Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Turning a Corner?

Perri and I are having a super cool week.

Since Perri's agility class will not be held for this Friday, I brought her to Molly's big girl class.  I did not know how it would go.  Perri has a lot of issues in agility class, and last Friday was not much of an exception (though she was a good sport for "rear cross practice.")

On Monday?  She was probably the best she has ever been at our training center.  She did not balk any obstacles.  The sequence started with a tunnel and she went right into it, followed by a no questions asked bar jump while I set the line into a difficult weave entry.  She nailed it and was weaving fast and even doing some one-step footwork in there.  She did the table, she did the teeter.  She did the triple jump followed by me rear crossing her chute.  WOW.  This is all hard stuff for Perri.  I was super proud of her!  One problem area that we struggled with was an Aframe/Tunnel discrimination.  I of course had to step out of the way of the Aframe so I would not be standing on the tunnel, but she was not committed enough to the Frame and pulled off with me and went into the tunnel.  We kept working through this, about twice per run (Perri did three!) and I was amazed that she did not shut down.  She was good sport and kept working!  This is a major problem area with Perri - we can't just work through something because it kicks up her avoidance behavior.  It was a really proud making moment last night that she was willing to keep trying.

Will Perri be perfect in class now?  Not forever.  Friday night was filled with good moments, but plenty of sad moments as well.  But I feel like our sad moments are being surrounded by more and more good moments.  Not one time either night did Perri totally shut it down and leave me to go sniff, and I was happy for the absence of that type of avoidance behavior.  She seems a lot more inclined to hang in there with me and do the sequencing - just not always at the speed that I would like.  Molly's instructor reminded me to reward Perri a lot more, because at this point she is not doing agility for the love of it.  Not yet.  But I feel like we are definitely getting there!  And I needed that kick in the ass to get the rewards in for Perri.  I am always failing to do this.  And as I said about the Obedience match - food is so much more than food for Perri.  My giving Perri food is telling her "You were right, what you did there.  That was what I wanted."   And that is what Perri wants most of all.

Foggytop Photography.  Babydogs first pro agility photo!

Rally Obedience class last night was another uplifting moment.  Perri actually had back to back classes.  My plan was to use lower value rewards for Platforms class, since Perri loves that class and doesn't need as much motivation there and then pull out the big guns for Rally-O.  When I gave her a sample of "the big guns", Nature's Variety Instinct Raw (Rabbit Formula), she bowed her head, spit it out and stood on her platform licking the air and giving glances my way.  And here I thought I had a secret weapon!  Guess I should have tested it out.  She was mostly shut down the rest of platform class.  Very discouraging.

For Rally-O class, now I was stuck with my plain little training treats.  This is usually never enough, and often even if I have cooked chicken Perri has more wilting moments than working moments, and my instructor comes and gives me something that she feels Perri will actually work for (and Perri responds by bouncing around with bug-eyes, screaming "At last!  Someone who understands me!).  So last night when I had a dog who shut down in the prior class, did not have much of anything to motivate her, I thought it was going to be a wash.  It wasn't.  Perri's heeling was some of her best and I had a lot more dog in the ring that I usually do!  Her recall to off-set front had some oomph! to it (and she had to recall out of a down!).  Her downs were still reluctant but she did them.  We did the heeling around the three cones, then two, then one and wow.  What a dog.  One of the other students complimented how much energy Perri had, our instructor said "Who IS this dog?!" (I agree!) and she made a point to come over and tell me how nice Perri's focus was and how much it is improving.

Obviously, I am on Cloud 9!  Having these two solid, good classes with evidence of forward progress right before my eyes was extremely beneficial for me.  It was just what I needed.  I believe in Perri, I really do.  I know there is a lot of dog underneath her strange poodle martian issues, and it was nice to play with that dog a little bit this week.

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