Saturday Ike and I attended a novice seminar with Webb Anderson at the Clean Run facility. It was hosted by LEAP Agility Club.
It was excellent to have a chance to meet some people I know from the Performance Schnauzer e-list and be able to put some faces with online names.
Webb Anderson currently has 5 Miniature Schnauzers, so you could say he has a lot of experience with the breed. However, even he was a bit stumped when Ike shut down during the first exercise.
The seminar format was "All Request" which meant that we e-mailed the coordinator what we wanted to work on a week or two before the seminar and then Webb tried to address some of our issues. Our issues were motivation and confidence, without a doubt!
We talked a lot before we ever did any agility about how important it is to have a training plan. I agree with that, I think it makes you and your dog a better team.
The first exercise we worked on was Doggie NASCAR – a speed circle with jumps and tunnels. Webb immediately picked up on the fact that Ike slows down in tunnels because he can't see me and switched Ike and a Bouvier, who also didn't like tunnels, to six jumps in a circle. While Ike was better with all jumps, the entire exercise was more or less a disaster in the sense that Ike shut-down or freaked out. However you want to phrase it there was no doubt - Ike acted like his feet were stuck in molasses and his wee little ears were flat.
It was a combination of the facility, a big warehouse, some echoing, and the fact that all the other seminar attendees were in the room and only one dog and handler at a time. It was really discouraging. Webb and the other attendees were really supportive and tried to help me problem solve. I brought Ike's new sock which he flipped for at home and he wouldn't even look at it. I tried to roughhouse with him a bit like I do at home and he gave his high pitched bark that he typically gives obnoxious young male dogs. Loud and clear it says BACK OFF, I am not comfortable.
Webb suggested I might want to try live prey with him, but considering how he is about the g-pigs (he tolerates them running loose) I am not sure that will work.
After the doggie NASCAR debacle I was very much in the dumps. I need to leave my discouragement at the door and figure out what exactly precipitates these shut-down spells. I say that, because this is the second time recently that he has shut down that *I* have gotten depressed about it. IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!!! It doesn't do Ike any good for me to get depressed about his being freaked out. I need to be there to help him or stop putting him in that sort of situation! Ugh.
I went shopping at the Clean Run store and I bought a real raccoon tail pelt. I also picked up some mini-jackpot toys (a squirrel and a chipmunk). I am hoping I will be able to continue to release the terrier in him.
One of the high points for me was getting Ike to "bounce" back. I took him outside with the racoon tail, some Evanger 100% Rabbit and clicked and treated for speeding after the racoon tail. We ran a bit and in general were very goofy. When we got back to the crating area he was able to play with Webb there. Gasp. He was more excited about the raccoon tail than I have ever seen him about a toy (in a public place with creepy people no less).
The next exercise we worked on front crosses and Ike really wanted to play! Webb videoed our runs and showed us how Dartfish software works. Wow, talk about instant gratification and analysis - what a cool program. The Dartfish software allows Webb to video our runs and then immediately play it back and do all kinds of very nifty stuff including voice over analysis, etc. It was helpful to be able to watch to runs play simultaneously and see what you did differently that sped your dog's performance up.
The final exercise was a basic course to evaluate our skills. Ike blew the dog walk off, but nailed 12 weaves and the teeter, so I was okay with it. ESPECIALLY considering how he had bounced back. His A-Frame was continuous too - no perching!
One of the things that I think is pretty unique about this seminar is Webb had us write down one thing we want to work on with our dog and told us to give it to our trainer. I told Katrin yesterday that I need to establish what I want Ike to do for contact behavior on the dog walk and A-Frame. I also need to continue to build toy drive.
I decided that I am sticking to one day for trials except for the Seekonk CPE trial. With Ike's personality CPE is the best venue for him. I do NOT think it would be fair to Ike to do both days of the two NADAC trials that will be in Wrentham in April. I think that is what *I* want. I am also not entering him in tunnelers. I might never enter him in a tunnelers class again - not unless I can make him feel okay about it. After this seminar, when I think about Ike on a tunnelers course, I think it must be his own personal hell. That makes me feel terrible!!
I am hoping by developing more thorough and consistent behavior in general I can make Ike feel more confident. This is the last seminar that Ike and I are doing for a while. I am auditing a behavior seminar in March, but no more agility seminars for a bit. I think that is good news - I have a lot to process and work on from the last few seminars that I attended. We have a CPE trial on March 1st, but other than that the rest of February should be spent trying to incorporate what we've learned and working on ourselves!
4 days ago