SUMMARY: Boost and Human Mom do well; Tika--well--
It's been two weeks since our last class; the Power Paws instructors were all off at Power Paws camp last week. We didn't do camp this year, so we were on our own for practicing.
We haven't done much in the last couple of weeks. I did set up a straight tunnel in the middle of the yard (usually they're in U shapes around the sides of the yard to give the dogs somewhere to run and keep running back into the yard). This is because, at our last trial, Boost (a) didn't seem to understand about sending to the far end of a tunnel where the opening wasn't facing her, and (b) tends to come out of tunnels and chutes and then turn back to me instead of taking the following jump.
So I set up jumps past either end of the tunnel and practiced a little bit of both of those scenarios.
Did just some random jumps and things with Tika to try to be sure that she stays in shape.
Practiced a few dogwalks and teeters. A few table downs.
Wednesday night and yesterday morning it rained a bit around here. Not a huge amount, but enough to get the ground and the grass wet, and enough so that, when class time rolled around in the evening, when the temperature hit the dew point, everything turned wet wet wet--jump bars, grass, dogs, everything.
Typically in class I alternate runs between Tika and Boost, so they're both getting half a class worth of runs. Two weeks ago, Tika ran well in her first two chances, and then on the third one, she seemed slow and uninterested, so I put her away and ran Boost instead for the rest of the evening.
Last night, Tika ran beautifully in her first run, although it seemed to me that her rear end slewed out from beneath her on many turns. Still, she was bright-eyed, happy, and eager. A break for her while I ran Boost once, then the next time I got Tika out, all she wanted to do was sniff the ground around the start line. I tried to jolly her into paying attention and running, tried restarting her, clapping hands, offering treats. Sniff sniff sniff.
Well, sniffing can be a huge displacement behavior--"I'm stressed and don't want to do this." With Tika, it's sometimes hard to know, as she is SUCH a food hound, and a damp ground probably has even more interesting smells. But when I finally grabbed her collar and almost pushed her over the first jump, she ran with me, but not particularly fast or drivingly. Not droopy or sore looking, just--not all there. So she was done for the night.
She certainly had no issues like that at our last trial. Maybe class isn't exciting enough for her, or the runs are too close together, or, I think, maybe all that slewing around in the first run made her uncomfortable or nervous, or I dunno--just another sign that she's not going to be doing agility forever.
Boost, meanwhile, ran great! She had two bars down for the evening, and for once I was alert enough to catch her each time before she got to the next obstacle to give her a time out. Everything else was wonderful. Even better, *I* felt great last night--knee didn't bother me at all, I felt like I was hauling butt around the field, getting in what felt like aggressive crosses and such. This doesn't always happen, so it felt good all around. A couple of classmates even commented on it.
If only that all holds up for another week--our last USDAA, and last trial period, for the year next weekend.
THIS weekend, I'm off to a two-day seminar featuring THE Bob Bailey and Dr. Sophia Yin, who is another expert on dog behavior. A sampling of topics:
- "Dog training: Craft or Technology--is there a diffence?"
- "The difference measurement makes: Lessons from the treat and train project"
- "Your mind's saying one thing, but your body's saying another: The subtle differences in technique that make one handler exceptional and another so-so"