Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh my dear odd dog….

Ike was “off” at class again tonight. Katrin had set up a very fun Steeplechase course similar to some runs on the Dig-It Fetch-It Herd-It blog. Ike started off like he wanted to work and it VERY quickly became a case of me BEGGING him to take jumps. Weird. He made a bee-line for his crate and Katrin said, “Let him go.” So I did.

While Callie was running I took Ike outside with his freshly washed monkey. He was willing to play a bit but did head for the car door that his crate is on. He was not shaking or in a figurative puddle like last week so I did some hand touches with him and asked him to come back in the barn. Katrin suggested I play with the stool while Callie was working to keep Ike engaged. I sat and did hand touches and I asked him to walk about the stool. Ike ADORES the stool-game. His little nub wags the entire time! He is SUCH an odd dog!

Ike was so fixated on the stool and offering behaviors around the stool – the stool was what was making him happy tonight. Katrin suggested I ask him to do a jump and then run to the stool. Yay, Ike. At first Ike was very much like, “Uh, no I don’t want to do agility tonight. Can’t you see I am melting?” Once he realized as soon as he did whatever I wanted we went back to play on the stool he started loosening up a bit. I did two jumps and then ran to the stool. Two jumps, tunnel, and run to the stool. Tunnel, A-frame, poles, run to the stool. We did a bunch of variations and Ike seemed to understand that 1. I wasn’t going to mentally torture him by doing extensive agility but I also wasn’t going to stop asking him to work; 2. If he did a piece of equipment we went to play on the stool.

Nancy arrived and I was very eager to send Ike to sniff her, but other than looking at Nancy he wasn’t interested in venturing near her. Katrin WISELY stopped me from literally walking Ike over to Nancy. [Sometimes I wonder about myself – the dog has barely bounced back from trying to mentally check-out to go hang with unicorns and I am trying to get him to go sniff Nancy!] I did c/t his looking at Nancy because in the past sometimes a look would become a bark! And considering how odd he was being I wanted to reinforce it was “cool” to look at Nancy.

Towards the end of the class, Katrin had me go into the center of the course and call Ike. The first two times as he came toward me, Katrin had me run to meet him and run to touch the stool. He was VERY hesitant – do I really have to go out there? The third time I had Ike come all the way out and do a “Front” before running to the stool. He didn’t hesitate half as long as the first two times before coming out to meet me. Hooray.

Since Ike was so intent on offering behaviors, and we were attempting to incorporate his offering behaviors into making agility fun again, Katrin suggested I put him in the car immediately after the last recall where he actually showed a bit of “Okay!” pep. By putting him in the car right away, he wouldn’t continue to offer behaviors when we weren’t “working,” and it will help add value back to agility again.

Oh my little off dog. Katrin says this is the learning curve, not a regression. I think it is so strange! I am befuddled. Ike did bounce back last night and obviously I need to think carefully about what he is currently valuing and how to reinforce what I want. Dang, always a new challenge. Of course, that IS part of the fun.


Diana said...

I dont know if this is your first dog or not but think of it like this. Sometimes its easier to have your hard baby first then when you have the next one, you realize it wasnt you. Diana.

Jules and Ikey P said...

Hee, I think you are right. He is my first dog that is just/all mine and I feel like I have probably made a lot of mistakes with him. At the same time I did and learned a lot of the "right" things with/from him. Ike's idiosyncrasies have made me a much better trainer.

Diana said...

I have a feeling you havent made any mistakes. You love your dog. Just like when you have your first baby. They cry all the time and wont sleep. You keep trying to figure out what you are doing wrong. Your friends babies dont act like this. It must be you. Then you have your next baby. And everything goes smoothly. They dont cry all the time and they sleep like they should. And then you are happy because you realize it wasnt anything you were doing with your first baby that caused the behavior. Its just their personality. And guess what, now your friends, their second baby is their "hard" baby. And you can sympathize. Diana