Thursday, December 23, 2010

Well... Hmm...

So last night we went to open agility at Family Dog Center. It was, unfortunately, the free-for-all that I so did not wish it to be. There was no course set up, just a smattering of obstacles set in no real pattern. There were only NADAC obstacles set out, so no teeter, table, spread jumps, etc. The good news is that people were more or less respectful of each other and we only worked one dog at a time.

There were only two other dogs there when we first arrived. Secret was very unconfident and put off from the moment we came through the door. When I walked her into the arena she started up right away with her "I'm not so sure about this" whine. I had set all the jumps to 22" before bringing her in from the car and in hindsight, this was an error. I should have just kept things simple for her -- But then again, she was so great on Saturday that I really didn't expect there to be such an issue.

I started out with the Ringzee and she did play with it, but it was more or less a halfhearted effort compared to what I get from her at home. That's kind of how the whole evening was. She did everything I asked of her, but there wasn't a whole lot of enthusiasm and definitely not a whole lot of speed.

At one point during our first session, Secret found a scrap of food on the floor. Oh yes, then she was done. Toys, what toys? I did manage to get her somewhat back to me by grabbing my bag of cheese, but again, she more or less just loped through the motions. The good news is that she nailed all of her contacts, got all of her weave entries and never popped out of the set of 12 poles. She just didn't do any of it fast.

I put her back in the car while I worked each of the boys in turn. When they were done, I brought Secret back inside and had her sit and watch for a bit. She alternated between acting like she wanted to attack certain dogs (like a young Boxer girl) and like she would die if she couldn't play with others (Ailie the Border Collie showed up near the end). She seemed interested in the young Border Collie, Zap, but didn't get a chance to meet him.

I ran her again (with the bumper) with the jumps set at 12". Perhaps the break helped her, or perhaps the lower jumps were just better for her, but she did seem to run with more enthusiasm that time. Still not as fast as we've seen at home, but it didn't feel so much like I was pulling teeth to get her to move.

Secret got to play with Micah the Visla for a bit before we left. Well, she thought she was playing. Micah just thought she was incredibly weird (which she was...). Eventually she annoyed him too much, so that was the end of that. But it was nice for Secret to meet a new dog that would put up with her oddities.

The evening ended in quite a traumatizing fashion for Secret. I decided I wanted to get an "official" measurement on her, so I went and got the measuring gadget out of the office -- Not a wicket, but a big metal contraption with a straight arm on it that slides up and down a stand with inches marked on it. Secret FREAKED OUT at the idea of getting near this thing. She was literally bucking at the end of the leash to try to get away from it. Now, Kaiser never much cared to be measured either, but he never put on that much of a show.

Using gobs of treats (some of which she spit out because she was so stressed), I more or less did finally get somewhat of a measurement out of her. It's pretty much what I had gotten from our "push against the wall" measuring method -- Right around 22 3/4".

I'm trying to reassure myself that her behavior last night was due to her being extremely tired. Why she was so tired is a mystery (still recovering from her shots, perhaps), but even when we went on our midday walk yesterday I noted that she didn't seem her usual lively self. She really crashed hard on the drive home and completely zonked out at home after dinner.

I am pondering my decision to drive down to Iowa for Secret's first trial in February. Our lessons up in Eau Claire will be very telling and I'm interested to see how things go. There are also two open agility dates at FDC in January that we will do our best to attend. Bottom line, if she can't work around distractions, she's not ready to trial. If I wait for the March trial at FDC, I can always just put her in fun classes like Jumpers & Tunnelers to ease her into trialing without making the investment of traveling out of state. We'll just see how things go the next couple of months... It's not like I have to send the entry tomorrow!


  1. Have no fears, she's still a baby dog after all and will get over the new things/new places the more you do them. Keep it fun for her and she'll relax and settle into working with you faster and faster. Go many places to train...a friends backyard, the park, in stores, parking lots, etc...keep your expectations low and work on her focus and williness to "play/work" with you when in new places. Distraction training doesn't have anything to do with agility...the more you do it though, the more she'll learn to ignore the distractions and work with you, no matter what you're working on...and it will definately translate into the agility ring in the end! Have Fun! Love the blog :)

  2. Thanks! I think what I went through with Kaiser (massive, massive ring stress for almost a year) has made me hypersensitive to such things. He was so confident in his training at home that I was completely unprepared for how awful things were when I started to trial him. I almost can't stand the thought of going through that again -- Kaiser has come so far, but it was a pretty depressing year to get there. lol One thing I did learn from Kaiser, though, is that I really shouldn't throw too much at the baby dog. Kaiser was signed up for 12 runs at his first trial. SO not doing that again.... Granted, running three dogs will limit the number of runs each gets to do, simply from a financial standpoint. :o) Secret will get eased into things in a much better manner than I did with Kaiser.

    I struggle because I always viewed Border Collies as "those crazy, fast & sometimes stupid" dogs when they run agility. lol Then I went and ended up with a thinker... Sometimes it's hard to out-think her and stay a step ahead. Fickle girl, but she keeps me on my toes.

  3. Oooh don't I know the thinker type! My Holly is a BC mix (with what we don't know) and thought I'd get lucky to not get the intensity that comes from BC's...nope! I adopted her as an adult, but it wasn't until she ended up in "the land of milk and honey" that she blossomed into a true BC mix!

    You'll do well with Secret! Our first agility dogs teach us so much that all others that come behind them win out big time from all the mistakes we won't make again :) I look forward to keeping up with all of Secret's successes!