Saturday, November 15, 2008

ups and downs

We had our ups and downs in our agility class today.

After taking some of your advice and practicing during the week, I think we did much better on our targets. For some reason, Oreo will not take the treat off the target in class. He sniffs, picks it up, and then spits it out. Perhaps, he doesn't like the fact that his treat has touched a spot where other dogs' treats/noses have been. Maybe I need to start bringing my own target from home. Regardless, his nose was on the lid. Yea!

For one sequence, I just could not get Oreo to focus on me. He was agitated, distracted, and uncomfortable. There was a "strange" man watching very close by, along with a new dog, and a young girl running back and forth right next to us trying to get a cup of hot chocolate. Plus all our other classmates were in the process of moving from one side of the building to the other to get to the starting point, and then we were all kind of crammed in a corner of the building.

Oreo always takes a long time to get accustomed to new people and surroundings, so I think this setup and all the movement around him just threw him for a loop. After a few attempts to get Oreo started, I looked at my teacher, and told her that this just wasn't going to work. So, I ran with Oreo to the other end of the building, and ran him through a couple sequences away from everyone else, and fed him lots of treats. That seemed to perk him up, we were able to get back to his classmates, and he was playful for the rest of the class.

I am so lucky to have such a supportive teacher, who understood that Oreo needed a mental break. She also knows to back away, and give Oreo his space, whenever it is his turn. She really is wonderful at looking at each dog's individual needs. It is like she is the special ed teacher for dogs!

Oreo's behavior made me wonder if I will ever be able to do an agility trial with him. We may be able to do a perfect run by ourselves, or with a small class, but will he be able to do it in a strange place with strange people around?

I guess time will tell, but I will never put him in a situation that is just going to stress him out. If he's not having fun, we're done. Back to the backyard we go.


Diana said...

I dont know if you have many agility trials near your home. But you may want to start now. Just going , have lots of treats and toys. Make if fun . stay as far back for your dog to be comfortable and work from there. That way Orea has time to get use to all the dogs and noise but doesnt have to perform. Dont get worried, just be happey and have fun with it. It does sound like you have a great teacher.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

We agree with Diana - mom has been taking me to trials since I was 6 months old - we go and watch and I soak up the sights and sounds and get lots of treats from people. I already really like being there. We're lucky that we have so many trials nearby.

I also have had a lot of trouble adjusting to the noises and activity at my classes. But I am finally making more progress at being confident doing agility away from home. My instructor told my mom that it some times takes Shelties a long time to get comfortable. So don't worry yet. And when we start trialing, it might take awhile to get used to that environment too.

It was awesome that you took Oreo aside and worked with him on your own at the class. Mom needs to remember to do that with me!

Sara said...

Thanks for your words of encouragement. I am hoping it was just a fluke, since Oreo has been doing so well in this class.

I will keep thinking positive, and try and get him to some trials.

Lian said...

Other than doing to the agility trail, you can also take Oreo to some agility competitions to watch other dogs and if they allow you, you may want to bring his favourite toy to play with him by the ringside or some really tasty treat that you don't use normally and treat him.

Sara said...

Sounds like my experts are all in agreement - I need to bring Oreo to some agility trials and bring along yummy snacks.

I will ask my teacher what trials she recommends we start with.