Teetering on the brink

I thought it was due time to update on Rue’s teeter progress.  We had been making some good headway until just before we left for Christmas when I rented some time at an indoor facility with a friend.  Rue has been here many times and was successful on the teeter in class a week or so earlier.  She again showed no signs of an issue on her first rep, so we decided to add more pressure.  Melanie stood close to the teeter and Rue bailed at the pivot 😦  I’ve never seen her do that.  We worked different tactics and eventually got her back on, but she was slow and waiting at the pivot.  Hmmm.  Finally after working some other stuff with her, we used Melanie’s dog Austin as a “see one, do one” demo dog.  Austin did the teeter while Rue watched, then Rue did the teeter.  This went on for about 5 reps or so and by the end she was back to driving pretty hard across the board.  Of course now I had to leave for NY the next day with only a few potential opportunities to practice.

Fortunately I have made some contacts in NY and was able to get both ring rental time and run-through exposure.  I rented some time at Sugarbush Farm shortly after Christmas. Rue did just fine on the teeter when it was just me and worked well for food and her tug toy. The owner came in to chat during my practice time, so I asked if he’d play judge for me and stand near the teeter. At first Rue had a difficult time and bailed at the pivot. I put her right back on and she was fine. She did several reps among other short sequences and this was all working for her tug toy, yay!

Feeling good about things I elected still to head to High Goal Farm for their New Years Eve run-throughs. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while might remember that I brought Miles here for run-throughs last year and he was like a deer in headlights. It is a relatively small and loud indoor space with matting for the surface. The ring is surrounded on three sides by crating space. Both times the run-throughs were the night before a very popular trial, so the facility is very lively with a lot of folks setting up for the weekend. I have to interrupt this post about Rue to say that this year Miles was AMAZING! He couldn’t give a care about the environment or the teeter or anything…heck what’s better than agility?? Plus we got to bring his orange ball into the ring, sweet!

Rue certainly seemed unaffected by the environment and happily played with me outside of the ring and performed well at the practice jump for cookies. When we entered the ring, she was initially a bit slow on her dogwalk (maybe thinking it was the teeter??), but then was blazing on her second attempt. She did a couple great aframes and got a wicked 300 degree soft side weave entry 🙂 After all of those successful things, I set her up for the teeter…she refused. I put her back over a jump and then she got on the teeter but would not move past the pivot. Unfortunately, they called time on our run as she was stuck on the pivot point. I did the only thing I could think of and that was to pull her off the teeter in a playful way and then ran her through a tunnel and over a jump to the exit. She tugged aggressively at the end of the run outside of the ring. Huh.

I’m still not convinced that this is a fear, but something has shaken her confidence with this obstacle. Or maybe she just doesn’t love it enough. Is it a choice she’s making? I do know that Rue deals with pressure by avoiding. I also know that she doesn’t like to be “wrong”. And she sure doesn’t appreciate surprises! In any event, I have a problem on my hands. Now as much as I love to have a project and as much as I love finding the solutions to problems, I sure would appreciate it if I could have a different obstacle to work on this time 😉

So bummed, frustrated and concerned on New Year’s Eve quickly I found myself inspired, energized and excited to accept my new challenge on New Year’s Day. I went swiftly to the local hardware store and returned with an 2x10x8 board and a 6″ width section of PVC piping. A few screws and wood scraps to anchor the PVC to the board later I had myself a mini teeter and the ability to play the bang game in my mom’s basement…woot!

The plan was/is to get lil’ Rue to love the teeter more. I taught her correctly how to perform the obstacle, but I don’t think she ever really liked it. She’d do it because she was “supposed to”….not exactly the kind of attitude I desire from her. I am currently working her bang game on my home teeter every day. The end is nearing parallel to the ground, but I am very conscious not to increase the height unless she’s really leaping up on it and slamming it down. A cool aside to this project is I’m realizing that she’s actually beginning to respond to me pushing back on her chest as a way to fire her up! I’m not sure if that’s a product of my tug and retrieve games that I’ve been playing with her or whether she’s just really wanting to get on the teeter or what. Either way, I’m stoked!

I’ve pulled her from all of her upcoming Standard runs too. I will not ask for any full teeters anywhere until I am certain she’s ready. For now we’ll work on getting more trial experience along with those JWW Q’s. I feel it will not be long before she’s begging to do the teeter again 🙂

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