Sunday, May 3, 2015

Not Weaving and you can't make me

My agility trialing world with Perri came crashing down around my ears this weekend.  We started everything off with a beautiful FAST run, with 70 plus points earned, fast happy poodle....everything I love about running her!  I was feeling good after that.

Then was Excellent JWW.  The course wasn't easy, and it shouldn't be - this is Exc/Masters.   Perri and I made our way through it with zero mistakes, until we got to the weave poles.  She entered them.  She always enters them.  Then popped out and I just let her skim through them, we had already NQd so why stress her out?  We finished the rest of the course with one jump refusal on an ambitious blind cross that we didn't quite pull off - but otherwise...really nice focused work from my girl!

Open Standard was last of the day and it was a good, clean run....except she entered the weaves, popped...and that was it.  I asked her to do them again and she stressed down hard, stared off into space and would not. try. again.  That's it.   I was very disappointed.  But she couldn't try again for me, she was shut down.  I know Perri gives me everything she has, but she just didn't have another try at the weaves inside of her.

So what is it?  I keep saying, helplessly, "But Perri used to do the weaves!"  I am almost outraged, I am "this cannot be happening".  I cannot have another dog with weave problems.  It just cannot be true.  But it is.  And she is worse than Molly.   Why is it happening?  

I plan to have Perri evaluated for a physical issue, hopefully sooner rather than later.  I really do not think that this is the problem, though.  I had an "energy massage" done on her at the trial today, why not?.  I have no idea what that is.  But the person doing the energy massage got "stuck" at Perri's shoulder/thoracic spine area and was "stuck" there for quite some time.   She said that I might want to have her to a chiropractor.  She smoothed out the energy problem.   I need to research this type of massage.  

I think the problem is that Perri has been "wrong" too many times about these weave poles and with her low confidence, she is just too crushed to try again.  I have seen this absolute refusal to try something, no matter how simple, no matter how Perri might know how to do this thing...I have seen this refusal before when Perri is "wrong."   Wrong is death.  If Perri is wrong she will die so she shuts down because she cannot, will not, be Wrong.  It makes me so sad.  She has never been punished for being "wrong", she just does not have the confidence level that many dogs do.  

The trial today was bittersweet.   We had a one hundred percent clean run in Excellent JWW, we held our own against all the Masters dogs.  But when it came to those weaves, she entered...popped at pole #3 and shut down.  She would not re-attempt the weaves.

In Standard she was slow on the teeter.  I was worried she was going to jump off, but she did complete the teeter and I told her she was a rockstar!   She popped out as soon as she entered the weave poles.   We ran the rest of the course, though.   She got an off course tunnel, mostly because I didn't handle the discrimination because it didn't matter, I didn't really care which end she did.  She went into the chute, came back out, and would not re-enter it.

I feel 100 percent crushed.  I have to remember that this is not the first time Perri has had a confidence crash at an agility trial.  That soothes my troubled mind only as far as the teeter and chute go.   The weave poles, I am just beyond sad about.  My plan for now is some time off of agility trialing.  I pulled her entry from an AKC trial that I had planned on in three weeks.  (Molly will still attend.)   We will not train the weave poles for a week, and even longer since in a week's time we have a camping trip planned.  

It is so hard with Perri.  It is so hard to know what to do.  With Molly, the answer was to train it, to work on it.  Perri is so much more complicated than Molly.  

We left the trial and went to Middle Creek Reservoir for some hiking, geocaching and brain clearing.


  1. I'm so sorry, stress issues are hard. Does Perri know how to bark on cue? Or jump up? Or like little shoves? Basically is there a way you can get her "mad" and slightly energized? I have found that doing something like that helps my sensitive dogs and sometimes even following up with an actual treat. And if they're really shutting down then I try hard to just pretend they were right and even reward with full gusto as usual, without doing my "teasing" routine. If the dog knows the behavior well then they're not going to unlearn it just because I'm rewarding them for doing it wrong. Anyway, just something to think about and I hope you find a good answer for Perri.

  2. What I often do is make "sneaky claw hands" and pretend I'm sneaking up to her, or I have her do her crawl trick - this all activates her pouncing mind frame and that is GOOD :)
    But I love the idea of a bark on cue, I have a friend who did that with her agility dog and it did wonders, I'm going to get working on that!

    I have been thinking so much and I agree, I need to pretend nothing went wrong if Perri comes out of the weaves... I've been pushing my luck without even realizing it with asking her to repeat them at trials and I think I can get her mind back into a good place by praising even her errors as you say and pretending as though they didn't happen.

    Thank you :)