Due to rain, our seminar was held in the building today. Major bummer. I really wanted to be outside, where Oreo has been practicing, and excelling the past few weeks.
There were 13 people taking the seminar, and the area where people sit is small. Unfortunately, it was in extreme close proximity to the startline of all our morning exercises. Within a foot. I immediately knew this would cause Oreo to stress.
And that is how the day began. We started with a full sequence. Oreo skipped a few obstacles, and missed an obstacle discrimination (which most dogs did). He was a bit nervous.
After our run, the instructor told me I was causing my dog to stress by the way I was handling him. I needed to run the course in a way that would put myself between my dog and the people. I told her that I try and do that as often as possible in trials.
She said that I should always do it. That is the only way I will build confidence in my dog. I must either get between them, or pull him away from the crowd.
She also asked if Oreo knew any tricks.
Yea. A couple. Maybe 5. Or 50.
She said at trials I should have him do tricks, as soon as I get him out of his crate, to get him focused on me.
All these things I kind of do. But it was good to be reminded of their importance and reinforced, because I don't do them consistently as I could.
We struggled through the sets she had set up. Mostly due to Oreo's stress level I think. I knew the skills we were doing weren't necessarily the problem. We had done similar stuff in class a couple weeks earlier. He did better than I thought he would, considering we were inside.
The set we did where we finally head away from the people, Oreo did great.
Unfortunately, that was his last. He refused to come out of his crate after that. He was tired. That was a bummer, because the rest of the exercises were at the back of the building, away from the people.
The instructor let me run her Jack Russell. I did that once. It was a serpentine sequence. He missed one jump. She was talking about the sequence later, and said that she trained her dogs to do serpentines, and they do them automatically, so she doesn't know why her dog missed the jump when I ran him.
I said, "I must suck as a handler."
Next time, I decided to run Misty!
At least then, if I messed up I wouldn't feel so bad. Misty did it twice, and for her first time doing agility in public in months, I thought she did great. She missed a couple jumps, but I don't aim for perfection. The instructor said, "That's enough for her."
The next sequence I ran one of my teacher's dog. I had run her on Labor Day, and we had done OK together.
I ran the sequence twice, and she was slow both times, and missed the same jump twice. I asked, "Is it me?"
The instructor said, "No. This isn't a good dog for you."
Someone else ran the dog, and the dog ran the same way. I thought the dog was just tired. She was soaking wet from playing in the rain. I had been feeding her treats before our run, and just before I brought her in, I could see her interest in treats waning.
Within a few minutes after her turn, she was falling asleep in her Dad's arms.
I just watched the rest of the seminar.
Overall, it was a long day for me and my dogs. Although Oreo was stressed, he was less stressed than he would have been 6 months ago. He put his nose on a stranger's palm, and also put his nose on my teacher's palm. This was with many people and dogs in close proximity. Some progress. I was happy with what he did today.
Now, I'm looking forward to our nice, short, relaxed classes. I think I was a bit stressed myself today. At seminars, I feel like everyone is watching/analyzing you. I don't feel quite as comfortable as I do in my class, where I know everyone and what to expect. Maybe Oreo sensed some of that as well.