Wednesday, September 15, 2010

back to blogging

seems like I come here when I have a problem.....and crazy how it is the same problem "almost",

Skye has made it abundantly clear she has no desire to learn or play agility no matter how stress free. So no agility for her, other than a crazy random tunnel when she escapes from the house while I am training Maya.

On to Maya who is now 17mo old.....until about two months ago we were smoking. She was doing everything with gusto, her flat work was great, she was fearless on the obstacles and she was just everything I could ask for and more. My arch nemesis the aluminum teeter made her cautious but it didn't seem like anything we couldn't get over. I taught her the teeter at home with the two table method and a wooden teeter, she will probably never have one of those amazingly fast teeters some dogs have, but to go from a quivering pile of teeter fear, to actively seeking it out and doing it with enthusiasm, well I am not going to complain. So we tackled the teeter at home in the backyard, now we needed to work on the aluminum teeter at my training facility.

For four months we have done nothing but find the "bang" with the aluminum teeter at the training facility I take classes at, she would gingerly bang it, and I would reward her, and when other dogs "banged" the teeter she would get lots of praise and rewards. I thought it was going well and we even progressed to her going over the teeter and me controlling the downside so it was slow and not as loud, but one evening a 150 lb newfoundland went over the teeter, the BANG! resonated throughout the building and Maya hit the deck so hard you would have thought a bomb went off. I immediately took her outside to decompress and get away from the noise. Then we went back into the building and I worked her a bit and she seemed okay.

The next class (we are in group classes) she was not herself. Maya is a talker, she lets me know when she is bored, excited to do something, wants food or go outside, with this amazing bark that sounds like a kid scooting their feet on a gym is awesome (in my best sarcastic voice). So anyway, during that class she didn't bark, she was not enthusiastic and every noise bothered her (I told the instructor I thought she was having some noise issues), she refused the dog walk and the A frame unless I really pushed her to do it. Other dogs (especially the big ones) going over the equipment clearly bothered her.

After that my instructor (who is amazing) has gone out of her way to make agility fun for Maya, we did more handling and jump work than contact equipment, and it totally made a difference, by the end of class she would go over the dog walk willingly again, but no go on the A-frame and we don't even look at the teeter right now.

So the plan for now is to work at home, to make our teeter at home the BEST THING EVER! and then we will make the teeter at home loud (probably attach a cookie sheet to the board and have it hit one on the ground), we have worked on the bang loud things at home game but she is not really digging it much....And we are going to the training facility during class but working in the back room and they are not using the teeter while we are there.

I am sad and frustrated, but it is going to be a very good learning experience for me.

Next time I will try to have some video.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The reason for my hiatus............
Found this in July.....
She was 10 weeks old and I had NO plans of bring home a puppy, but a friend wanted me to go look at a litter with him, and well she stole my heart.

I have to admit I had some misgivings, I had fully planned to get either a young rescue that had the temperment I was looking for, or get a well bred working dog. But for better or worse my heart won over.

She is now almost 9mo old and while she has some fear issue we are dealing with, I think she is going to love agility. She seems to get over her fears fairly quickly with a gentle approach.

We start our first agility class this week, a foundation class.

Here is miss Maya

I have not given up on Skye's agility career completely but it is totally up to her what she wants to do. I will probably bring her with me to training with Maya once we start doing obstacles and if she wants to do it that is great, if not she can just be my snuggle buddy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Control Unleashed

So we are getting with the program...

I have read the book twice, and I am gonna order the DVD very soon. Right now we are working on the default behaviors, basically when I stand still Skye comes and sits in front of me giving me eye contact. I am also doing LAT when we are outside and on walks. I think she is getting the idea. I am trying not to really give her commands at all right now, just reward her for things I want her to do that she does automatically.

I also want to get a book on TTouch (doing what I can with what I know for now). We have been doing some of the massage work on the mat.

Also....I am looking at a pup at the Shelter on Monday...not making any decisions right now but boy is he a cutie. It says Jack Russell Terrier/Dalmation mix, but I am not sure about the Dalmatian. I am pretty sure I want my next dog to be more smooth coated and smaller. He seems to fit the bill.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So what now?

The hardest thing for me is to realize that agility is something that I want to do not necessarily something that Skye wants to do....I know our biggest problem is my training does not work for her, she doesn't see it as fun. That is what needs to change. I am reading Control Unleashed, I read it fairly quickly a few weeks ago and now I am going back through it slowly and making sure I understand all the points. I plan on working on Karen Overall's protocol for relaxation, and learning about T-Touch. I am going to get the DVD for Control Unleashed and go through the program with Skye. After that we are going to go and just sit through some Agility classes and do the relaxation and focus games. I want her to just get used to being in the building without having any stress or pressure, Then we may do a rally obedience class for building up her confidence......

My biggest issue is of course the teeter in the building, I feel horrible that everyone has to make an exception (not using the teeter) for my dog, but I don't know what else to do.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our agility training

After our year and a half hiatus, I once again signed Skye up for classes, this was at a new facility which looked fantastic, rubber mats on the floors, climate controlled, full size courses.

We took 12wks of beginners obstacles class, went through contacts and some jump work (learning front crosses), Things were going great until our introduction to the building teeter, it was a metal teeter and it was LOUD, Skye was used to a boom board and went up and SMASHED it down like she always has, but this time it scared her to DEATH. Things just went downhill from there, we tried counter conditioning by giving her lots of treats when others banged the teeter but her anxiety only escalated. Then I thought she needed desensitization so we taped the teeter noise with my instructors dog, played it at home and Skye never even blinked, she would play ball, tug, all her tricks while it was playing full blast, Things at the building only got worse, she got to the point that she was shutting down when we pulled into the parking lot. During that time, I made a teeter at home and had no problems at all with her going over it, it was only the teeter at the indoor building she was afraid of.

After the 12wks of beginning obstacles we decided to take a break on group classes (sequences classes were next) and just work the building alone and make it all fun and no stress. This worked out fantastic. We would go to the building 2-3 times a week in the mornings when no one else was there and work on stuff and just play ball and frisbee. I decided to sign her up for the group sequencing class since she seemed over her issues with the building, I informed the instructor of Skye's teeter fears and she said no problem that I can take Skye out when they are working the teeter if needed.

For the first 3wks things went fantastic, on the 4th week we used the teeter, the instructor wanted to see what Skye's reaction to the teeter was exactly so she could help me with it. Of course Skye blazes over the teeter right away (not realizing it was the "scary" teeter) I caught it before it banged but she was a little freaked out. The instructor said to take her to the far side of the building and click and treat her when others went over the teeter, I was thinking to myself that I should just take her out of the building...but she seemed to be handling it okay at the time, she was still taking treats, and while she seemed a little stressed did not seem shut down.

After that night she refused to do agility for the next two weeks, I tried three times to take her to the building to play and each time she made it through the door then laid down and wouldn't get back up.

I decided at that point that we needed a break, and to start over at the beginning, I got the book Control Unleashed and we are going to work on that program for the next couple months and do some fun shaping exercises and just not even think about agility for a while, I may do some rally obedience when I think she is ready to go back to the building for group classes but that may be a while.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Training Skye

After getting Skye settled in for a few weeks we immediately began a puppy obedience class. She did really well and learned everything easily. At home I tried to teach her a few things and found that if she didn't know exactly what I wanted her to do she would get stressed out, this was a new behavior to me, my previous dogs would just keep trying until they finally figured out what I wanted. I have found with Skye, she needs to succeed immediately or she will shut down, she must always be set up to succeed. This is not always easy.

After the puppy obedience class we moved on to a beginner Agility class that was recommended to us, once again everything went really well with that class I didn't see any sign of her stressing out and she seemed to enjoy the class. She did have issues staying focused on me and not the other dogs (something we struggle with to this day).

After the puppy class we moved to the next level so to speak, once again working half size obstacles and learning basic handling skills over jumps. This is when Skye started showing the first signs of stress. One day she just decided, this isn't fun and she refused to take jumps.....Around that same time I was 6 months pregnant with my third child and felt like a break for both of us was probably in order.

A bit about my past

I have loved animals since I can remember, I was the child who brought home every animal I came across and wanted to keep it as a pet. I majored in Wildlife Biology in college and got a job as a zookeeper. It was my dream job what I had always wanted to do. I learned how to clicker train as a zookeeper, I trained a lot of different animals, from Chimpanzee's to Birds. Unfortunately most of my dog training experience was with "hard" dogs, and most of my methods, were involving corrections not rewards. I fully planned to use both methods with Skye, but I was soon to find out she needed almost 100% reward based postive training methods. In my case it was a hard to teach an old dog new tricks..on the human side.