Yikes, we began the day with a repeat of the November trial for our first class. The first class was Fullhouse - in Fullhouse, Level 1 must accrue 19 points. A minimum of three (3) 1 pt jumps, two (2) 3 pt "circles" (tunnels or tire), and 1one (1) 5 pt contact or weave must be completed and the table is active the entire run. If the dog touches the table the run is over. I had planned a course that I thought suited Ike's cautious-cat personality - I wasn't trying to do anything crazy or overwhelming.
Like November, Ike shut down upon entering the room with the ring; the room seemed even louder than last time. Upon entering the actual ring, Ike tried to work, we did jump, tire, jump, A-Frame, and Ike FROZE. I literally could not get him to get off of the A-Frame at first. He finally was able to unglue himself and take a jump. I was trying to have him take the tunnel and he was still in complete shut-down mode. I should have just scooped him up AFTER the A-Frame and said thank you. The whistle blew and I scooped him up - he was so overwhelmed and distressed. I hate realizing after the fact that the kinder thing to would have been to end the run as soon as I was able to get him down the A-frame.
1. If I ask Ike to do something he thinks is overwhelming, he still tries. I need to be better about realizing BEFORE the shut-down that maybe it would be worth sitting a run out or leaving the ring.
2. After the Fullhouse run Ike was able to take treats in the scary room.
3. I walked out out to the pen behind the building and he was willing to play with me and a very cute BT who came out. (He was actually desperate to play with him! Yay!)
Note for future reference: If the first class of the day is Fullhouse, Snooker, or Jackpot avoid the A-Frame where Ike sees the full scope of all the people watching (this pertains only to indoor trials which freak him out more). I already try to avoid the dog walk as during the first class Ike tends to be in cautious-cat mode and we can lose quite a few precious seconds on the DW.
During the course change I sat out back in the crating room and gave Ike a massage so he would be a bit more relaxed. The classes were running high-to-low (levels), so while the levels 4, 5, and C were running I brought Ike into the room where the ring is to do some counter-conditioning and get him acclimated to the noise, people, etc. I sat him in my lap and tried to treat whenever the teeter banged or a handler was particularly loud. Ike handled it VERY well, and was watching everything and everyone. I walked him into the room where the vendors and food are and bought him some stinky mackerel treats.
When we went back into the ring room he was acting wary again. I brought him to the opposite end of the seating area and started asking him for some basics (sit, down, shake, other paw, jump up). He was able to do this, which he wasn't capable of doing prior to the first run. Yippee. I figured I had done enough and brought him back to his crate for a nap.
Well, it worked, Ike bounced back! Hooray!! We had an absolutely GORGEOUS Standard run (our first Level 2 Standard run). Jump, tunnel, jump, weaves - he did the odd pause half-way through the weaves to look at the crowd which I have seen him do in other trials but he continued correctly - Phew. I will have to think about how to prevent the pause during weaves. Ike does not do this all of the time, nor does he do it anywhere other than in trials.
He hesitated at the dog walk, but took it pretty confidently. His seesaw performance was phenomenal - he was really moving, I don't think he realized it was the seesaw and not the dog walk. I had him "wait" and he rode the seesaw down without freaking. What a good boy!!
As we exited the run a trainer for some of the other competitors yelled out "Good run," which I really appreciated. Later she came over and commented on my handling skills and specific handling decisions I made during the run and said I was motivational. That made me feel really good, and it should make Katrin feel pretty good since she is my primary trainer.
Unfortunately Ike did not Q, he was one second over. Ah well, it just goes to show that a Q isn't everything as it was an amazing run and I felt like Ike and I worked really well together.
Next class was Wildcard which Ike and I really excel at. We Q'd and placed first. Yay, Ike.
In Wildcard, the course is designed with three instances where the handler must make an obstacle choice. Typiclly one of the obstacles is slightly "harder" than the other. In Level 1 and 2 you must complete two easy obstacles and one difficult obstacle. You can not Q if you have all easy obstacles or all hard, or two hard and only one easy. Levels, 3, 4, 5 and C you must chose two hard and one easy.
Final class was Colors and Ike was just all done. It was 6:30 and we had been there since 7am. He stopped on the A-Frame and just stood there sight-seeing. Again with the bad handler decision. Colors is a course where there are two course designs that overlap. The handler must tell the judge and scribe which course they are running. If your dog decides to chose the other course, well you are basically screwed. I opted to run the course that included the A-Frame because I felt like it was easier to handle, with less chance of an off course. Well, I should have remembered that Ike thinks the A-Frame is a lot of work and it was the last class of the day. Oh well, these are the things you learn with more experience, you figure out what works best for your dog and change your strategies accordingly.
It was a good trial. I felt like I learned a lot about Ike and what works for him. I have more insight into strategizing for handler and games classes and that is the kind of thing you only get with experience in the ring.
4 weeks ago