Meltdown Take 2

It was going so well… and then.

Well as in… we made it down to class last night (which a feat within itself–leave work early, rush home to grab agile gear, toothbrush, athletic-type shoes, frozen dog treats–all while on phone w business partner ignoring real life partner; cram dog into car, jump onto toll road and I-5 South; drop and call back biz partner multiple times; make stop by tenants house to load in 50 lbs of my succulents and pots into car; stop by Mexi restaurant and accidentally order Chimichanga burrito; get to Agilitee, stuff face with deep-fried burrito while getting on athletic shoes, digging out leash and treats, forgetting poo bags; rush into class just on time). Phew. I wonder why my dog(s) may have stress issues…

So, it went really well in the beginning. We were doing a jumpers course. Which seems pretty advanced to me for us being delegated to “Pre-Novice” and all. The first go was reasonable, but the second was chock full of nasty front crosses and I would have predicted that I would have made a total hot mess of the whole thing, yet somehow we pulled it off quite well, front-dizzying crosses and all. Forest was so good, flying along, happy little guy.

Then we got to the course. I’ll spare the details save that we progressively screwed up on more and more obstacles and finally it devolved into him running away from me up the dog walk, or A-frame, and staring blankly at me. Obviously, he is not happy with me.

I am not sure what is going on, but I think its a combo of a few things;

– the stress level is not helping our cause. I need to seriously get a meditation CD or something for the drive down so I am not all wired when we get there. And I need to plan ahead better so I am ready to leave right after work and not rushing around the house like an idiot then jumping into traffic wondering what the hell I am going to eat. Pack my clothes, agility bag, snacks, etc. on Sunday night. Get it together.

– I think what might be happening on the field are two things simultaneously: One, I dont think he likes it when we mess up consecutively. Or maybe I just dont and I telegraph it to him. We get frustrated too easily. Its either gravy or ever-crescendoing disaster. Two, I am not sure if maybe we are rushing into the “whole course” thing… I havent been treating him as much on his contacts, though I have been treating him consistently on the teeter ever since we kinda skipped that whole “here’s how you ride it down all by yourself” part. Regardless, he “Sticks” on any contact obstacle. Does it, well, then stares blankly at me as I try to move him off of it and away to the next obstacle… I havent been treating him after the weaves either–at least as part of the course anyway. During practice I always do.

So, not sure how to handle exactly, but have a few ideas…

– working at home how to “break!” off of sit, down, then contact obstacles

– maybe treating randomly/intermittently during course at class (not sure about this one, need to talk over with trainer). Would treating in between obstacles and/or for moving off of obstacles help or confuse the issue?

– working on relaxing and not stressing during class

– reading Control Unleashed

Or I could just chuck it all out the window and keep slogging away at it. I dunno. I am just tired and I think Forest is too. We will be missing class in a few weeks due to my work travel. Maybe it will be good for him to have a week off instead of me rescheduling. We’ll see how the next two weeks go…

I do need to remember the good parts. Beautiful jumpers, good weaves (all 12!!!), brave teeter. And a good quote I read on the  Levels Group this AM:

“A partnership means that each is aware of what the other needs, not ‘you should keep working for me’.  (If the dog is not ‘in the game’,) the game needs to have its rules changed, so he/she can play it. A game means ‘something you enjoy playing’, I would say. A thought:  Less is more.”

Meditation tapes here we come.