Overwhelmed + Inconsistent = Hitting the Wall

We’ve been pretty agility-free around these parts for the last few weeks, but I think that’s okay. I started reading Control Unleashed over the weekend, and it made me feel a bit better about where we’re at, plus affirmed one or two of my suspicions about some of our “hitting the wall” issues. It also helped me realize that I am definitely one of those people who loves to do their homework, but maybe that’s also just my way of avoiding the actual action plan. I like to dive in, read, read, research and read more, take classes, give my semi-educated opinion…. but when it comes to building a plan and sticking to it, not so good.

Ie, I fell in love with Sue Ailsby and her Levels training. Have I made it past Level One? Nope. (To give myself a break, I did take her clinic at the beginning of the move-new job-holidays-death in the family-hurricane, so hoping we can get back on track eventually with that.)

I also seem to have absorbed so much info and so many different styles and schools but don’t have the real foundation—so I am frozen in fear of where to start.

However, it just so happens that one of the local dog sports facilities actually gives a Control Unleashed session (5 or 6 weeks long!). And it starts this Wednesday. So, off to agility tonight (with greatly increased rates of reinforcement!!!) then our first CU on Wednesday! Seems like a lot of classes, but with my lack of consistent training in between, it may actually not be too bad.

I think that will be a great program for us to focus on for a while, then we can come back to other stuff. I need to not beat myself up over this and also remember I am training adult rescue dogs with various ingrained issues, not pliable puppies I can mold to my every whim. Plus, where’s the fun in that anyways?!?

More traveling this week/end, then a Sales Meeting in two weeks, then hopefully I can get back to my life and back on track.

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And So It Begins…

I soon was doing research online about dog training to deal with this wild hair/hare(?) we suddenly found ourselves with. And quickly fell into the positive dog training realm, which morphed into the clicker realm, which then dovetailed into agility. Well really maybe I found agility when searching “what to do with hyperactive spastic dogs”. This little innocent-at-first-glance dog needed exercise. Like a LOT of exercise. Like at least an hour a day of running like a maniac down the beach, up the mountain bike trails, lapping the dog park (which was generally avoided due to anti-other dog issues), across the street to the empty lot to eat decaying things, etc etc.

I knew what agility was, but it seemed pretty nerdy. I knew about crazy dog people as they were simply an extension of the crazy horse people I grew up surrounded by (sorry to my poor parents who put up with our hobby-cum-childhood-obsession). And so was skeptical. Plus how the hell are you supposed to get your dog to run through those poles like that?!?!? But figured, hey, what the heck. I am jobless and a dork so how much more of a dork can I be by trying out a few of these classes?

We drove out to Escondido to the first San Diego agility trainer I found online. She had a decent website with a lot of content–which in my Marketing-centric brain is usually a sign of at least legitimacy. Our first class was scary, I remember. The trainer was very strict and rather serious, and there were a lot of “rules” and a lot of standing around and explaining of things. Not a lot of action. Which at first was okay because even though we were in a beautiful fully-fenced-in arena, I was still terrified that the second the leash came off he’d be off like a shot. Somehow, between the food-motivation and leash help we mostly managed to semi-keep it together. There was a woman in the class who had a Standard Poodle, and I let Forest sniff his butt, and the lady turned and snapped at me “DON’T let your dog do that!” Eek. Okay crazy dog people.

So, for whatever reason, we kept going. We even somehow ended up with this funny little clique of us three ladies who all started agility at the same time. These ladies were so far from my typical friend circles (ie. they were 10 and 20 years older than me, weren’t wearing Volcom and Vans or have full sleeves or expensive hair cuts) but they were nice and normal and I could dog geek out with them. It was a nice change.

And so we went every week, then I got competitive and went twice a week for a while. And then I got a job. Lame. Well not really for obvious reasons, but it threw my dog and agility-focused days off track for a bit. Now we just drive down to my very serious yet very nice and extremely knowledgeable trainer for lessons every week. The drive is over an hour but I look forward to it, every week.

And now there are heavy dog crates that we drag around and sketchy hodgepodge training obstacles in the patio and dog treats spilling out of the cupboards and freezer and car consoles and pockets and I drive out to places like BFE to go to Fun Matches (when I am allowed by my trainer). This whole silly thing is frighteningly addicting. Thank god P has not only begrudgingly let me appropriate his rightful dog, but tolerated me turning into a crazy dog lady. So far…