UGH. I don’t like this class for us at all 😦 I’m just trying to glean what I can, muscle through, and get it over with.
So this was our 5th class and tonight we started with cone work. There were four of us working on our own cone on one side of the ring while the other four teams worked on shaping different surfaces on the other side. Rue was distracted from the beginning, but I managed to get three or four good reps between her taking off after a puppy on the other side of the ring and deciding that she wanted to attempt a set of 12 weave poles (honestly I think she thought she was supposed to go around the individual poles). I definitely noticed that if I cheerlead her a little or really say “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!” when she get’s it right, she’s much faster. I put her away after about 5 minutes of cone work….the rest of the class continued for at least another 5 minutes (way too long in my humble opinion).
Next we went to the surfaces station. It was apparently a “course” of cardboard, a plastic tarp, and a wooden board that the dogs were supposed to walk on. They were in a gently curving line about 5ft apart. The goal was to have our do lead us to the next “obstacle”. Rue kicked butt and was joyously dragging me to the next surface. After 3 or 4 reps on the course, we headed to the wooden plank and were to shape them to walk along it. Since Rue has done this before, I concentrated on her focusing downward on the plank and ending in a two on/two off postion. I have no idea how I’m going to train her contacts, but I figure this can’t hurt…who knows. We also were able to play on the buja board during downtime and Rue again kicked butt. She won’t tug on the board during class, but will do so at home. We just played “get the cookie” on it instead. I put her away for a few minutes after this.
Next up were recalls in parallel off-lead (meaning not attached to the long line as in previous classes). I asked to leave Rue’s lead on and just let her drag it just in case. Good thing because after the first recall which was excellent, she took off on me on the second and tried to ascend the dog walk and then the teeter-ugh. I was unable to get her back even after stepping on the lead. Against my better judgement, I let the instructor talk me into luring her back to me with food even though I was using a toy for the recalls. It got her back, but I knew deep down that I should have persevered until I got her to engage with me and the toy regardless of how foolish I may have looked.
The third recall was done with everyone and we were supposed to send the dog ahead of us once they reached us either by tossing a toy or sending to a food target. Because I really don’t want to use targets, I elected to use a toy. What I should have done was excused myself from the excercise because our turn was awful. She seemed ready to chase me so I gave my release word and she flew off to the side of the ring and straight on top of another puppy. I couldn’t get her back without grabbing her leash and then running away. I was told to drop the leash and get her to engage at which point she went right back to the puppy. Frustrated I retrieved her again with her leash, ran away with her and attempted to engage her with her toy to no avail. She completely disconnected from me and went into a MAJOR sniff-fest. The instructor came out to help me and again recommended that I lure her away with food. I told her that I didn’t want to do that because then she would “win” and learn that she was allowed to refuse the offered reward. I tried and tried and tried to get her back, but to be honest I was very dissappointed and frustrated and I’m sure Rue wanted nothing to do with that. I ended up picking up her leash and walking away. She finally gave me eye contact so I broke down and gave her some treats and had a little party. That was the end of class for us.
Miles finished up the class by assisting with a “monkey in the middle”.
After class, my instructor talked to me for awhile about different things I could try to help our relationship. She suggested:
– decrease daycare to every 2-3 weeks instead of 2-3 times per week
– I’m to take her out of her crate alone and spend a minute or two engaging in play or something with her before she sees Miles or anyone else
– bring her to work with me
– she’s a working dog and may never have the same kind of relationship with her that I do with Miles. She looks to me for work, not play.