I took Miles to run-throughs at an indoor arena the other night to see how he’d be with this type of venue. It was VERY crowded with dogs and people everywhere and barking dogs crated all around the ring except for one side. I had to wait for about 50 dogs to go before it was our turn! I brought Miss Rue in first to play with her and work on focus and tricks. She did great and didn’t care about the surroundings at all! I even shaped her to “bow” amoung all of the distractions–little scum 🙂
Miles on the other hand was very stressed when I brought him in to acclimate. I have NEVER seen him this bad–he was vibrating with fear and shaking all over, poor thing. I spent some time just doing TTouch and he calmed down enough to take food from me and do some simple tricks at which point we left and then played a little outside. The rules for these run-throughs were that you couldn’t use food, but you could use toys/clicker/etc. (there is a trial there this weekend, so they didn’t want food on the floor). I was a bit nervous about how he’d be when I went to bring him back in and I waited until the very last second to go get him. Much to my surprise he was excited to come out of the car and didn’t fight me to go into the building or into the ring. Anyway, here’s the video:
I should have taken more time and just played with him at first. He was fearful of the tire for some reason and I let him stress about it WAY too long unfortunately. I was happy that he was willing to come back to me and get frisky and seemed to want to work, but just couldn’t let go of his fears. I was conflicted between trying to nag him to connect versus just letting him look around and decide for himself that he wanted to play. Not sure what I should have done. He was happy to get his ball, but then didn’t want to come back with it. On the other hand, he tugged on it with me before the last two jumps. He also chased the ball towards all the scary people/dogs at the end which was HUGE for him. Furthermore, he carried the ball out of the ring to his treat bag, ate his dinner outside of the ring, and then barked at me to give him his ball back. So all in all I think it ended on a good note, but I wish I had been there for him more while in the ring. I’ll be renting a different indoor ring a few times this week and doing another set of run-throughs at another place next weekend. I hope I’m doing the right things….