Sunday, October 30, 2011

Things that make you go hmmmm

So....the trial did not go that well.  Friday Legend refused the teeter, yesterday the dog-walk, and today the a-frame.  Except for teeter they other two refusals were early in the course when she is stressed and low on momentum.  We've overcome a lot of that stress but she's never been a dog to be relaxed and come blasting off the start time, not often anyway (sometimes she surprises me).  We have analyzed this to death and it really seems to be just a stress behavior-she drops her head and starts sniffing and everything.  I don't believe she is injured which is what everyone keeps asking, it just does not have that kind of presentation.  Plus, I can't find anything wrong with her. 

So, I needed a plan.  Today I decided if she didn't do a contact I would re-approach like usual and when she did it, celebrate, leave the ring and celebrate some more.  So that's what we did.  I think I will keep doing that at AKC trials for now.  When we get to the NADAC trial we will to the fun run if offered and I will take some of my runs as training runs. I want to just to one obstacle, contact and leave the ring or some variation of that.  I have no idea if that will help but I don't have anything to lose.  Ignoring it isn't working.  I don't think that doing more contacts at home will work either-it's not that she's afraid, she's just....well...Legend. 

Her jumpers runs were great, not super fast but ok for her and for the pretty tight course times we were given this weekend.  She only NQ'd on the run where I pulled her off a jump.

Lyric struggled with weave poles and general speed this weekend.  I think I need to go back to rewarding closer to the ring instead of at the crate.  Now she just associates going to the crating area with cookies and not so much the end of the run.  She did pick up one jumpers Q on Friday.  It wasn't all weave poles either, she also refused the table one day and crashed a jump. 

I was a little demotivated after the weekend, especially following our struggles at champs.  Legend had such a spectacular first half of the year and has slowly deteriorated some over the last few months.  But we've worked through a lot of problems and we will just work on this one now.  I don't know about getting that MACH this year but that's ok.  I want to get it when we are both running happy. 

In the meantime we will continue distance training.  We are having a really fun time working on some new skills (or really proofing and strengthening some skills we have started).  It's really fun to actually be working on something new.  I don't really feel like AKC courses challenge us that much anymore (maybe sometimes Lyric, but not so much me and Legend).  Don't get my wrong-we are far from having a perfect Q rate even if she did do all the obstacles.  I just mean I don't feel like there is much we can't do or need to work on.  I don't leave and think "oh, we should work more on that."  Other than the stress related issues there isn't anything she consistently does wrong.  It will be something different all the time.  But in NADAC there are chances courses that we literally can't do.  We need to train some new skills.  And I'm hoping that learning new skills and being able to work more independently will help continue to build her confidence so that she's not as stressed at either venue.  I really don't want to be one of those people that everyone watches and says why does she keep running that dog!

Anyway, wish us luck.  I'm going to edit some new fall photos to post later.  I feel like I have not taken any photos of my dogs in months!


Diana said...

I feel for you. Im sure people probably wonder what I did to my dog to make her hate the table so much. Your dog strees down, my dog stress up. Its hard to deal with. Im sure poeple think its great that my dog is fast but what good is it if we cant Q. I hope you can work out the problem. Good luck.

Greg S said...

We've all had rough trials I think. I remember once when Skye went 0 for 8 at a USDAA trial, how demotivated I was. Keep up with the training and maybe even go a couple weeks with no agility at all - sometimes that can re-energize both halves of the team!

Karissa said...

I think that those who have never owned a stressing dog will never fully understand what it is like. It is so easy to pass judgement when you haven't experienced it yourself.

I was lucky with Luke, my first agility dog. Absolutely nothing would phase him, stress him or shut him down at trials. He has always gone into agility with as much enthusiasm as he does while chasing a ball in the back yard.

I couldn't tell you why my next two dogs ended up being stressed by trials. Both grew up going to agility trials and never had any issues -- But when it came time to perform in the ring they both experienced massive amounts of stress.

I'd like to think it wasn't my fault. For Kaiser I'm sure his breed plays into it. For Secret, I'm fairly certain it's genetic since her brother is the same way. But regardless of the reason, it's still a large wall that we have to break down in order to be successful -- or even to have fun.

I think it's hard not to take it personally when we have a dog that stresses. And I know I always worry about what other people think when one of my dogs is having a "stress down" moment. Worrying about that probably only makes the dog worse. lol

My goal is always for my dogs to enjoy doing agility with me at trials as much as they do at home. I'm sure Legend is the same way -- So I figure the best thing to do is keep plugging away at it until we get there -- Knowing that some days will be better than others.

Kaiser had a couple of phenomenal runs at Champs, but he completely bombed three because of his stress issues. I still take it as a victory, though, because when we first started I couldn't even keep him in the ring with me. :o)

So remember the progress! Don't focus on perceived failures. And YAY for distance. :D

Nicki said...

Thanks for the support guys.

Karissa-you have taken the words right out of my mouth. Everything you said is exactly how I feel. Glad I'm not the only one but I wouldn't wish a stressed dog on anybody. It's certainly a labor of love but so worth it into end. How neat that u know Secret's brother. I know nothing of any of my dogs relatives or what they were like as puppies.