I am a mental mess after yesterday. It's one thing for Ein to act stressy and anxious. It's one thing for Perri to disconnect from me and shut down. But how can one handler with three different dogs have all three of those dogs lag and lack enthusiasm. I feel like it looks like I beat my dogs, or like I have absolutely no idea how to make anything fun for them.
Molly does stress. But she usually stresses up, not down. In no particular order, my neurotic brain is trying to come up with reasons for Molly's lack of confidence yesterday.
1. DTCCC is full of static, this is a certainty. Could I have shocked Molly by accident a few times throughout the day?
2. Molly had her rabies shot on Saturday. Was she feeling lethargic from that? (I googled it. This is a thing.) Was she still feeling mentally exhausted from the strain of being in a crowded pet store full of other dogs?
3. Before Molly's first run, she was not allowed in the ring area, nor was any other dog, because a highly reactive dog was in the ring. We had to go straight from the crating area into the ring. I don't like this. I like to warm Molly up outside the ring instead of walking straight from one room to the next and asking her to perform.
4. Molly's neck was bothering her? She did keep scratching and scratching at her neck, and she was doing a lot of head shaking. This was considerably alleviated after I loosened her collar a notch. But her collar was not tight. She wears it all the time. I know that the scratching and shaking were displacement behaviors, but could her neck be sore? Oh, how I am always worried about Molly's neck.
5. DTCCC has three areas. The lobby, the ring area and the back room. Molly goes here every week for agility class, but for class (and prior trials), we always crate in the lobby and enter the ring that way. At this trial we crated in the back room and entered the other way. Was Molly's already-tired mind blown to see her normal training area A) from such a different perspective and B) Lacking in agility equipment and normalcy? (We did trial rally at DTCCC in December and she was not as animated at that trial as I thought she would be, but she was not
6. Rally-O is just not as exciting for Molly as agility, and I have not trained any enthusiasm for the sport into her. She is not used to performing this exercises in a quiet ring with a bunch of people watching her, and off leash. She lacks experience and training, besides my own "I love this sport and want Molly to have a few goes at it here and there."
Is that attitude fair to my dog or the sport? I don't really think so, and I don't like myself for throwing her into something that she is not comfortable with.
At an agility trial, we warm up with heeling. We heel up and down the warm up area, the crating area and she is right there with me. She is into it. She does her fronts, finishes, 360's, her stay-walk arounds.
It is rip roaring noisy, there are dogs running past her, playing tug close to her, running in the ring and the practice jump.
She does not act stressed, or wilted or mopey. Her tail wags! And since you can take food in the ring in WCR, we did. She knew I had food with me in that ring and she didn't care.
All I can do is blame myself because I don't know what else to do. At an agility trial I'm cruising around heeling and working with my awesome pittie girl doing our thing and getting ready to blast around the agility ring. I do obedience exercises to get her focused on me and we both have fun there.
In the rally ring...what happened? My stress? Her stress? I don't like it. Whatever the reason, I don't like it. And since I am so hard on myself, I feel like I have failed my girl. First the A-Frame stress and now this.
Enjoy the journey, enjoy the journey, enjoy the journey...