I almost didn’t go to agility tonight because I was so tired but I hauled my ass off the couch and drove the 45 minutes. And I was so glad I went because we had an awesome class. Tonight we did the A-frame for the first time! And Maia did it! We didn’t have it set up to its full height, of course – it was barely angled at all, but enough to allow the dogs to crest the top and then drive down the other side. Maia is not a drive-y dog – she prefers to stay close to me, like velcro. This is good in some ways but not in others. However, she was doing really well at hauling down the frame for cookies.
We also worked on the basics for rear-crosses, which starts with the dog sitting while you walk in a circle around them. You want them to watch you, and to turn their head and catch you on the other side only when you have passed the halfway mark behind them. Maia and I have not worked on this forever but she picked it up quickly when I first did it with her so I know we’ll get that back.
Last we had a jump, a tunnel that curved and popped the dog out to take another jump in line with the first one. The idea was to send the dog through the tunnel and then stop next to the last jump, collecting your dog after they did the jump. Dogs are smart and they are so attuned to body language. The first attempt for me sending Maia through the tunnel ended with me stopped dead, and therefore so did she. The second attempt I turned my shoulders and feet and therefore Maia turned in that direction as well. Gah! Third time through, I wasn’t trying to send her but rather driving with her to the tunnel, picking her up on the other side and then driving over the last jump. Success! We did that twice, and then the next time through I stopped at the second jump. Maia took the jump and immediately collected to me. This is an instance where having a velcro dog is great – I will not have any issues of Maia taking the wrong equipment or heading off on her own. However, we are going to have to work hard on the ‘sending out’ aspect.
One of Dana’s friends was watching the class and came out on the floor to help us put equipment away afterwards. Maia had sniffed him through the fence and been unconcerned for the most part. Then she did a few ‘woofs’ at him during class when I was setting her up where she could see him, but they were single barks and not serious. When he came out on the floor she was apprehensive but Dana took her and some chicken and got her right up to him and touching him with her nose for treats. I stood to one side and just watched.
Ever since being told by my daycare that according to them, Maia is shy (shy!) with strangers, and hearing Jen’s example of how calm Maia was when Jen looked after her for a few days, I have been trying to be very conscious of what my body language is and what emotions I am portraying when Maia meets new people but it’s hard. I need someone on the outside to watch and then help me refine. (Which, by the way, is why I wanted outside help and why being told that I know what to do, I’m just not doing it was not helpful.) So watching Dana take Maia through that fear was very cool to watch.
I splurged on books last week and am checking the mailbox every day to see if I have a notification from the post office. I feel like Calvin and his beanie (Calvin and Hobbes reference, anyone?) but I have ordered dog training and behavioural books and I have high hopes that not only will they be more satisfying than Calvin’s beanie, but that I will learn some techniques for training Maia that resonate with me and work for her.