Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weaves, Frisbees & Fear....

Secret takes up residence under my desk during lunch, hoping that I'll share my pretzels (I do...)

There is no real reason for this entry other than that I haven't posted all week and I feel bad. It's been a quiet, boring week -- But we have a trial this weekend in La Crosse! It is the very last trial that Secret will have to attend as a mere spectator! It does kind of stink that it's only a week and a half before she turns "official" at 18 months, but eh, what can you do?

The fear part of the title is something we've been battling since the beginning, really. It's always frustrated me that I haven't managed to find a way to work Secret through her fears -- Most notably, her major fear of loud noises.

We've had a couple of experiences this week that really have highlighted this, both having to do with trains on our walks at work. Mind you, she is not scared of train whistles or even the fast moving trains that go by 30' away from us on the trail. What gets to her, and absolutely terrifies her, are the stopping trains. Which has actually progressed to be afraid of STOPPED trains because she fears the noises they will make if/when they start up again.

Yesterday we had the unfortunate circumstance to get stuck on the near side of the tracks due to a stopping train. The last time this happened, the train made multiple very loud, scary noises as it stopped and Secret got really spooked by it (heck, even I jumped). Apparently Secret remembered this and as soon as she realized the train was coming to a stop, she was paralyzed with fear. Literally stuck in one place and refused to move. Usually when she is scared, I bring her out of it by asking her to do what she's very comfortable with -- Perform tricks. I tried to get Secret to do simple nose touches to my hand and I couldn't even get her to snap out of her trance until the train had completely stopped, and then she spent the rest of the walk with her tail between her legs until we were well away from that area.

Today we were once again on the "scary side" of the tracks (for whatever reason, stopping or starting trains are not nearly so scary on the trail side) when the parked train began to move. This one wasn't even loud, but when her eye caught the movement of the car, she darted between a pack of lumber to hide. I feel so bad for her that we still struggle with these fear issues and haven't found a way to work through it. I ignore her for the most part, not wanting to "reward" the fear, but it doesn't seem to help.

These odd situations are not the end of the world by any means, but they are a symptom of the larger problem -- Secret's "shut down" switch and my inability to snap her out of it. It's definitely something that will be a long-term project for us, I'm sure. I do worry how it might come into play as she begins her journey into the trialing world of agility, but I also feel that the experiences gained will only serve to help her in the long run.

I often wonder if her siblings have this problem, as they say often times that fear can be genetic... Secret has always been noise sensitive -- Especially compared to Kaiser, whom I swear you could set a bomb off next to and not get so much as a blink.

Anyhow, moving on...

I realized that I haven't talked about Secret's frisbee/disc work in ages! Considering how I used to whine and complain about her lack of enthusiasm for the disc last summer, I figured it was worth an update. She is a disc-loving fool now! We finally figured out the "go around" cue (not sure why it was important to me, but it was) and her catch rate is right up there with Luke's (when I throw them decently...). Even the retrieve has come right along, although she'll still lay down to chew on the disc if Luke is outside or when she starts getting tired. I'm getting better at experimenting with different throw styles and Secret is following right along. We've even started to play with "tricks" like jumping over an extended leg and whatnot.

Do I think we will EVER do competitive disc events? Not likely. At 45 lbs, I don't see doing vaults or anything like that (not to mention that I'm completely incompetent with this stuff), but it's fun to play with. Luke and I once won a toss/fetch competition, but Secret would still struggle with that due to her expecting to play tug with the frisbee each time she brings it back. :o) We're working on it, but right now I think her main reason for retrieving so well is that she wants to tug, so we'll go with it for a bit longer.

And finally, weaves --- A fellow blogger recently started to work on her dog's footwork in the weaves, as she stopped "swimming" when they moved up to 24" spacing. This inspired me to give it the old college try with Secret again. I admit that I pretty much gave up and just accepted the hopping, but I decided to see what would happen if we spent a little time working on it. After all, there isn't much else to do this winter.

So last night I set up the 2x2's in the basement and had them all in the open position. Secret surprised me and actually offered the single step right from the beginning! She did go back to hopping as I started to close the poles, so I think leaving them open while she develops muscle memory is going to be very important. It's also important to keep the sessions very short and only do them when she's "high", because the only way she's going to single-step is if she's driving through (this morning, for example, she was kind of 'meh' when we did a quick session before work -- So she went back to hopping until I got her properly revved up).

So that's pretty much all we're up to right now. Still no word from Debbie about our lessons in Eau Claire starting back up, but I'm pretty sure she said she wasn't seeing her doctor until the beginning of February, at which time she'd find out if she can go back to work. Fingers crossed!


  1. My pardons to Secret...but my congratulations to Luke :)

  2. Thank you! Both of the boys had a fantastic weekend! :o) I'll probably give them a blog post today if I can find time after editing all the video. Poor Secret had to sit in her crate like a lump all weekend, but for the last time!

  3. At least sitting like a lump is excellent practice for Secret...especially as she learns what awesomeness is from Luke and Kaiser :) Congrats on a great weekend!