Posted by Amanda Beasley on Friday, April 20, 2012 Under: Agility
Kenzie did great at her first trial! We did have a little fallback from the stress to deal with afterward (jumping at every sound), so we went back to the thundershirt/music regime for a few days, and then she was fine. On the way to the trial I gave a speech about how relaxed I was, and how it did not matter how we did, we were just there to have fun, etc. Once we got there and went to get measured etc, there were dogs milling around everywhere. She was stressed, but not aggressive, so that was good. I then massaged her while we waited for our first run. I left her with a bully stick to work while I went to walk the course, then came back to get her when it was getting close to our time to run. I massaged her at the gate while waiting at the gate after warming up. She completely relaxed on the ground for me to massage her, even while surrounded by pumped up agility dogs! When it was time to go in I showed her the toy, then tossed it behind me and went in. To sum up this first run, she was VERY relaxed on the field....slow, not zoned in, and loopy. I expected wayyy too much from her while planning our run (it was a gamblers course), so it was a rather rough run for us both. She did hit her dog walk contact though =)
For the following runs I decided to try to ramp her up beforehand, to see if I could get her back in that zoned in place, but it just didnt happen. She did get a little more zoned in as the day went along, we actually placed twice and got 3 Q's. She always ran with me, such a good girl, even if her mind was not all there. She was doing great in Snooker until I messed up and took her the wrong way!!! Ugh, I have been out of the ring for too long!
I mostly noticed that I did not have a strong enough reinforcer with me in the ring to get her to focus on me, rather than ALL THAT NEW STUFF OUT THERE!!!!! When we finished running, I had to have my mom at the finish waiting for me with a tennis ball so we could sprint out to the back area to play fetch.
So, I decided three areas can be improved upon:
1). Go to more trials so that it is not all such a big deal
2). Practice getting ramped up for agility, so that we both have that routine
3). Increase tug drive, so that I do have a reward with me in the ring
Okay, so how to do these:
1). Obviously just go to more trials. I'm not going to worry about this one too much, it will come with time.
2). I know that going into Kenzie's agility field at home is a major reward, so I decided to begin a routine of putting the agility leash on, asking her if she is READDDYYY????, then go to the gate, open it, then get her all ramped up and say "OKAY" when she reaches her most worked up, then enter the field quickly and put her on the startline just like I would at a trial. After a week of doing this, she now knows that she needs to be barking her head off and growling to enter the field, so that is what she does =D
3). Okay, so to increase her tug drive, I knew that I needed to put all throwing toys away, so that her play need was not being met by those. I also googled how to increase toy drive (yes even trainers call upon google occasionally). I found a great paragraph on how someone trained their dog how to tug by shaping it. She said she learned it from her teacher, but didnt say a name, so I dont know who to actually give credit to, just know that this was not originally my idea.
Begin by shaping your dog to pick up rope. Hold it in your hand, when she touches it, click treat, then when she opens her mouth and touches a tooth to it, click treat, then when she picks it up, click treat. Once your dog is picking it up out of your hand, then just close your hand over it, then let go when she pulls, c/t, then wait till she pulls a little harder, then a little harder, until she is pulling really really hard to get it out of your hand, and whalla! Your dog is tugging. I also will sometimes not pick the rope back up and let her bring it to me to start the game of tug-for-a-treat. I started doing this before dinner every night one week ago, and took it outside for the first time today. So I did our usual routine of getting her all worked up before entering the field, then went in this time with no toy, just a braided rope leash. We took off and did a quick course, then ended with me throwing the rope leash over a jump. She ran to it and I said "get it!" and she brought it right over to me and we tugged tugged tugged! When I let her win, she just kinda looked up at me and I said "GOOD GIRL!!!!", then grabbed the rope and started again. I let her win two times, then decided that I was going to win! I pulled and pulled and screamed YOU GIVE ME THAT TOYYYYYYY!!!!! (I got this from a very cute video by Susan Garret found on youtube). I smacked her up a bit and grabbed her like I do when we played, oh ohh boy did she love it!!! Once I did get it from her I said "LETS GO!" and ran her around the course the other way, then threw the toy again, repeated the tug game, then called it a day. I was SOOOO happy!!!! Before last week when we started training this, she had never tugged on a leash for more than a couple seconds, and that only half heartedly!
When I started training this stronger tug, I also started researching what kind of leash I wanted to have. I decided to get into leash making, and I have had a blast!
In : Agility
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