Saturday, March 22, 2008

3/20 Agility

Well I have to admit, Iris was better in class than I expected her to be. My brother's friend (who Iris does not like) was over the house, so she spent the day shuffled between the crate, the yard, and on leash with me. She was so edgy all day, I thought for sure I would end up with the hell hound during class.

Iris' attention was definitely more scattered this week than last week. For one thing, Tessie (Springer) was there this week, and for whatever reason, Iris does not like Tessie. Her barking at Tessie is much more forceful than at any other dog in class and I have a much harder time redirecting her. Poor Tessie has done nothing to deserve such a bad reputation!

This week, class was run a little differently. Instead of all the dogs working on different things at the same time, everyone had to wait while each dog/handler team went through the obstacles individually. Waiting quietly isn't one of Iris' strengths! I mostly did attention work and the space game. Also, I've found that hand targeting is good way to to distract her when she starts staring at the other dogs. If I can sort of "break" her stare, by either walking into her or asking her to target (depending on how focused she is) I can get her working again easier. She did really well as long as no one else was barking and Tessie wasn't the dog running.

Class started with a pinwheel (3 jumps at 90 degree angles). Katrin had the dogs that were most likely to bother Iris leave the barn while the calmer dogs stayed inside (to get Iris used to working around other dogs without completely blowing her brain). Iris' mind was all over the place. She rushed the barn door when she saw that the other dogs were out there. She felt they needed to be supervised. What would happen to the world if there wasn't an Aussie overseeing every activity? Then she took a little jaunt over to check out Carmen, who was such a good girl and ignored my nosey Aussie! Which was also really good for Iris who decided that the other dogs weren't actually doing anything interesting and came back to me. During this exercise, Katrin was having me give Iris a treat every time she checked in with me. I need to start doing this at home - rewarding every time she checks in with me during the day (with a treat, a game ect). By the end of the exercise, I think she was starting to focus a little more.

Next we worked on a teeter, tunnel sequence. Iris is definitely getting better about "wait" on the teeter (I know she'd love to see how much air she can get off the end of the teeter, but you know, Aussies don't actually have wings). After that, I walked her to the other side of the barn so we wouldn't be too close to the dogs working on the a-frame. We walked a little too close to the dog walk, and Iris said "oh hey, let's play on that!" Brat dog. She seems to really enjoy the contact obstacles.

While we were waiting for our turn on the a-frame, I had Iris lying down against the wall (she seems a little more relaxed up against the wall, maybe because she doesn't have to worry about what's behind her) and just worked on keeping her attention since we were waiting closer to the other dogs than we'd been. She did really good. Neil and Makin (Vizsla) ran right past us and Iris didn't react! I admit, at the time she was looking for treat crumbs on the ground so she didn't really see them, but she still didn't bother jumping up when she heard their footsteps. Yay!

Iris didn't have any problems with going up the a-frame. She wasn't too impressed with the idea of doing it backwards (it's more fun to run up and over than to inch her way backwards!) She was enjoying it enough that she bounded back for one more go after we'd finished. I know I should probably try harder to keep her off the contact obstacles unless I've told her to go up, but I'm just happy when she decides that she'd rather be playing agility than supervising the other dogs. We ended with the dog walk, which she has no problem running across. I just have to make sure I keep up with her.


Jules and Ikey P said...

Yay Iris and Blue!! Everyone is making such fabulous progress. It was huge to leave dogs in the barn and have Iris check it out and the check back in with you. And considering you are saying she had a pretty stressful afternoon? WOW!!

Cat, Tessie, & Strata said...

Hey! :)

I wanted to add you to the IASF blog readers list, but your e-mail is hidden on your blogger profile, so I wasn't able to do so.

Please e-mail me at undisputedkennels at yahoo dot com and I will add you back on ASAP.

A lot of reactive dogs have an issue with Tessie, believe it or not. She was not well socialized with dogs as a young adult and thus doesn't always "get it". While she's not outwardly rude, she is probably committing lots of minor faux pas that happen to really bother 'touchy' dogs.

Blue said...

I emailed you. :)

I think part of Iris' issue with Tessie is that Tessie moves around a lot more than the other dogs who are just learning the obstacles. Fast movement seems a lot more concerning for her.

You're probably right about her tuning into subtle signals the other dogs are giving. She's really sensitive to human body language. My dad's girlfriend has a dog that Iris doesn't really like, and that dog wasn't socialized at all when he was younger (compared to another dog she got along with right away, that dog has had tons of dog socialization since he was a puppy). I hadn't thought of that before.

Rio Rocket said...

Been reading your blog about your agility challenges. I'm learning a great deal from what you write. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I'll be starting agility with Rocket April 17th and my biggest fear is that he'll just want to run off and play with other dogs during class and not come to me when he's off leash so I'm REALLY working with him at the house to come/sit/stay with juicy treats.

Good luck. Your Aussie is just beautiful! Love those eyes.

Blue said...

Hi Rio Rocket!

I'm glad you're learning from my adventures with Iris. I am too! Writing things down helps me remember what's been working and what hasn't. I've been so lucky to work with some great trainers (Katrin and Julie!) We haven't gotten kicked out of class yet :)

You are going to love agility and I bet Rocket will too! Working on come/sit/stay now is definitely a good start. We have a few weeks off between agility classes coming up, and I'm going to do some obedience "brush up" with Iris.

I looked at your blog and Rocket is a very handsome boy! Vizslas are such cool dogs.