Weekly Training Update (Feb 29)

Lilly had another training date with Pitsch last Saturday. She did well playing and doing flatwork with him nearby. She might have even been a tad less bossy than last time. Maybe it helped that they were playing with his frisbee and not her ball. Things were going so well, in fact, we decided to try a little agility on our home course. Bad idea.

Lilly went first, jumping a little, weaving twice. She did it, but was VERY slow. Then, when it was Pitsch’s turn, Lilly literally turned her back on him. I asked her to turn around and watch, and she deliberately turned her head away, then she went into the early stages of a full shutdown.

She stayed a good distance away from me. She would not come, without lots of pandering. When she did come, she would not do tricks for me at all. That’s a sure sign of stress.

She realized, however, that Betsy had food too, and suddenly, Besty was her new mommy. She shook. She smiled. She sat nicely.

She completely ignored me.

So, we went back out front, away from the agility stuff. She did rebound some. Worked a tiny bit, but then she ran to the back of my car and wanted into her crate. So, I let her crate up, and she laid there quietly as Betsy and I wrapped up our visit.

So much for my wondering about it being time to push her. Wrong! Bad mommy!

BUT, there were some highlights. Once she settled in, the hair on her neck and butt went back down, and she played in a more even temper with Pitsch. When we were working his stay/relax, she had incredible control of her speed (very slow so as not to set him off) and position. She worked the entire time off leash.

She’s perfectly happy to do flatwork (heeling to both sides, turns, flips, switches), or as Leslie McDevitt calls it in the book “box work.” She’s not wild or fast or zoomie. She just is. And, while she was working, her tail swung low and slow in a relaxed position.

When it was her turn to be on her mat, she mostly stayed put with a very relaxed body and face. I even recalled then sent her again and again to her mat, and she happily did so.

While I felt pretty sick to my stomach about pushing her and causing a shutdown, I also snapped the photo below, which shows she’s adjusting to Pitsch being here well. She did bare her teeth at him a couple times (resource guarding me). She did growl at him a few times, but nothing terrible, and he’s so good natured that it doesn’t even faze him. So, that’s a bonus.

But, I think she likes him a lot. Not many dogs can get this close to her. Granted, she’s at home, where she feels comfortable, but still. It’s nice to see her this relaxed (and happy) around a high-drive, high-energy dog.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Roxanne Hawn - February 29, 2008

I wish I could incorporate play, but that’s one of our other problems that I hope to fix using CU methods. Lilly won’t play in front of other dogs either. She will only work for food if other people and dogs are around.

I might be able to get her to recall over a jump with him nearby since that would look different to her. Maybe we could recall them both over their own jumps to us.

She will do some work for others. I’ve let kids at Gigi’s class work her there, and she thought that was funny. But, I don’t remember any of our trainers trying to run her as a test dog or anything.

We’ll have to see if she’ll work for Betsy.

Elayne - February 29, 2008

Maybe next time you could try starting out with the flatwork until they’re both relaxed a bit then bring a single jump out front away from the agility field. You could work on Lilly having speed over just a single jump as well as Pitsch working just the single jump while Lily relaxes. Try to make a game of it for Lilly, asking for a jump then playing with her ball, or whatever she likes to play with. I spent many weeks playing ‘Fetch Agility’ (take a few jumps then go chase a ball & bring it back) with Cody and he loved it. There were some other good exercises in the CU book where one dog was running past another dog and that might be good to try if the single jump is too much for her.

Will Lilly run for other people? Maybe let Betty try sending her over a single jump then playing with her as well. Cody would run for just about anyone and sometimes it was a stress reliever for him to run with someone else if I was inadvertently putting too much pressure on him. Of course this won’t work if running for other people stresses her out.

I push too far in training sometimes too but sometimes it’s a way to figure out what your limits are.

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