Falling Behind and Good Things

I’m so far behind on posting its getting embarrassing. The short version is we’ve had two awesome consecutive weekends of trialing. First was up in Camarillo at USDAA, then AKC nearer to home this last weekend at Walnut. I love both sites and all went very, very well. I couldnt be happier with Forest’s attitude and performance over the last two weekends. He’s been happy and “up” and full of energy and focus. In a total of ten runs over the two weekends, I can only think of one run that I was less than happy with. And last weekend at AKC, we ran all Excellent, and while we only Q’ed once, all of our mistakes were minor and mainly related to my handling, rather than lack of training the basics. Whew (and finally!!!). His weaves were great, his contacts were great, and again, his attitude was just awesome. Our first run on Saturday AM was Time to Beat (first in the video), and I honestly think it was the fastest he’s ever run for me at a trial. I know for a fact that it was the fastest weaves he’s ever done at a trial.

I realize this sounds gushy and that we will have some steps backward again, but I am just thrilled with the fact that he seems happy to run with me. That’s all that matters. He will learn to be the best agility dog he is physically and mentally capable of, and we have come a very long way in only two years. I am lucky that he is my first agility dog. An easier more biddable dog would not have taught me nearly so much.

Now a bit of a rest for him. Not too many trials in our near future, he’s due for a break and its getting hot down here.

Speaking of biddable dogs… On the Phineas front, he simultaneously amazes me and infuriates me. He traveled up to Camarillo with us and was a perfect traveling pack member; sleeping in the car, hanging in the X-pen, working happily off-leash for me (gotta love USDAA) in between Forest’s runs and sleeping like a good dog in the hotel room without incident (other than making me crawl under the hotel bed multiple times to retrieve his Holee Roller–eww). He is lovely to work and train with and his enthusiasm and speed is something I am still getting used to.

However, he is also getting into his bratty teenage phase and his newest thing is to bark at all things foreign and/or potentially threatening. This dog has had a LOT of socialization, but apparently not enough for him. I am hoping this is just a phase. He is a “hard” dog in a lot of ways. He is bullheaded and needs to be constantly managed to keep him out of trouble. The good—and weird—thing is that I have some sort of sixth sense about what he is up to. I was just thinking that exact thought a few mornings ago and then suddenly realized he must be up to something naughty. I walked out of the kitchen and into the living area where I found an entire roll of toilet paper shredded across the living room rug. I could only laugh.

I do worry with him that I am possibly perpetuating his high energy levels by allowing him to be “busy” constantly… He goes to day care 5 days a week and blows off steam a minimum of one day per weekend. He does not have a lot of down time. But, god help me if I did not have the day care option with this dog. He would be eating through walls instead of playing 6-8 hours a day. He did nap in a crate for a few hours midday until recently which I think was a good way to get him to settle, but starting a week or two ago he hasnt been down with the nap time. I need him to learn to relax, but in order to live with him, he needs to burn of steam. On an energy scale of 1 to 10, 1 being obese Bassett Hound and 10 being the wildest of Border Collies, he’s probably an 8 or 9. He is intense and it takes a lot to wear him down.

So, I am still obviously figuring him out. We did start our “official” contacts training tonight with him. I need to get out the video camera and start documenting our progress. More on that to come, this is enough of a brain dump for now…

Will try to keep up a bit more in the next few weeks.



3 thoughts on “Falling Behind and Good Things

  1. Great post. I totally get what you mean about Forest– I may never go to trial with my first agility dog, Mustang Sally, but she has taught me soooo much and taken me in a totally new direction in my life, because I had to learn to work with this “difficult” dog. Easy wouldn’t have gotten me where I am today, either! Sally is also like Phineas– she is a very busy girl. I recently read an article about dogs who were over stimulated every day, for example, playing fetch with ball obsessed dogs on a daily basis. The article pointed out the long term negative effects of these always adrenalized dogs, and the toll on their health. I can’t remember where I read the article, but if I come up with it, I will post for you.

    Recently, Sally and I have started a new training, called getting easy, where the dog learns to self relax and stay relaxed in the face of distractions, whether the distractions are exciting or scary, etc. Sally is an adrenalin junkie, and getting her to control herself is a big thing for us, instead of me trying to control her. She has made great strides already, and I must say that the training has really deepened our bond.

    About 2 weeks ago, I adopted a 4 year old border collie, Scout. He is very soft in comparison to Sally, so I am learning how to deal with a dog on the other end of the spectrum. Good thing that we can continue to learn new approaches!

    • Hi Terri, thanks for your comment (and sorry for my slooow reply!). I have read about that article but havent read the article itself. If you do find the link, please do send it.

      I am familiar with training “relax” as well, though I have to admit I am too lazy to do it. I am easily overwhelmed with all the other stuff I “should” be training, and that one gets bumped way down the list. Though it shouldnt.

      We did have a good afternoon yesterday though. I came back from being away overnight and was worried the dogs would be bonkers after being with the dogsitter. Instead, after getting their greetings out, they all settled down–including Phin–and joined me in taking a 2 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. I was shocked. So, maybe he is learning to settle. Or maybe he was just exhausted! Either way… 🙂

      And congrats on your new dog! Hope to hear more about him.

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