Yesterday Ike turned 7 years old. Gosh, it’s hard to believe seven years have gone by since he came to live with us. He is both such a good boy and a complete snot rocket, as dh would say. Anyone that knows Ike and attempts to interact with him gets the impression of a RATHER stand-off-ish terrier. The reality, at home with his loved ones, is that he is a complete mush.
He is pretty sure he is just barely below me in the household’s hierarchy and constantly tries to glamour us into doing his bidding.
What could be better for the birthday boy than Rally class on his special day? Here’s last night's course:
1. Halt, Fast Forward from Sit
2. Normal Pace
3. 270 Right
4. Spiral Right Dog Outside
5. Call to Front, 1 Step Back, 2 Steps Back, 3 Steps Back
6. Halt, Walk Around Dog
7. Turn Right
8. Left About Turn
9. Left Turn
10. Call Front, Finish Right Forward
11. About "U" Turn
12. Left Turn
Our first run through was pretty nice - although Ike was feeling VERY over-exuberant. We had a super Halt, Fast Forward from Sit. You could actually tell Ike was moving fast! On Call to Front, 1 Step Back, 2 Steps Back, 3 Steps Back he was THROWING himself into a sit. He was so over the top I had to laugh and "do-over" multiple times. When I asked for a Front, those sits were off by a mile! Since he tends to throw himself more to his right, Jennie recommended leaving my left foot forward a bit until Ike is settled. She said this should help push him to my right and thereby center him more. It seemed to work, so we will practice this at home.
Although I no longer have any intention of trialing Ike, Jennie wants me to cut down on treats in class. I have cut down significantly. I think I use maybe three little bits per run. Last night Jennie suggested I not cheerleader him as much. WOW. What a different dog - and not in a good way.
We started the second run with me being quieter - still verbally rewarding him and smiling, etc. but not as much cheerleading. Usually I talk non-stop (just about). After the 5th sign (Call to Front, 1 Step Back, 2 Steps Back, 3 Steps Back) Ike was starting to disconnect a bit from me. The next sign was situated at the entrance to the ring - also where people congregate and where Ike often gets creeped out. I lost him - he could not take his eyes off our classmates. He wasn't barking or being reactive but he couldn't focus on me at all.
As we continued the course he was very distracted until we got to sign 10 (Call Front, Finish Right Forward) where things went even further downhill. When I asked Ike to go around to Finish Right (which involves him going to my right and behind me to get into "Finish" position on my left) he offered to "touch" one of the Rally signs with his paw. "Touch" was one of the first operant behaviors Ike learned and when he gets stressed that is what he offers.
I felt terrible and Jennie quickly told me to go all cheerleader-y again. It was like a light switch was flipped - Ike was completely re-engaged. It makes me wonder if part of the reason the Rally trial at Masterpeace was such a disaster for Ike was because of ME; that I was much quieter than I am in class and that stressed him out.
Food for thought. I am going to play with being quieter during class - incrementally - and see if I can convince Ike we are still having fun, that nothing is wrong.
1 week ago