Thursday, August 12, 2010

Class #2

Class is hard work!

We got to class a little early to get Jonah used to the room...but it didn't really work.  He was still very afraid.  Dave came with us today, and Jonah kept trying to go over to him, to the point that eventually Dave just had to leave the room.  Whether we were heeling at a walk or run, stretching, spinning, practicing on the board, or even sitting, downing or staying, Jonah simply wouldn't look at me or listen to my commands.  I have to admit I got pretty frustrated, which only made things worse, but he wouldn't eat or play with the toy I brought him, and when I tried extra hard to be enthusiastic and happy it didn't seem to help.  He was just so scared he simply didn't want to please.

He likes targeting a lot, so he did well with this.  We practiced touching a few times while staying at the target and then releasing him to go away from it.  Then I would ask him to touch from a distance.  He was still distracted, but focused better than earlier.

In general, I found the leash was hard to handle.  He's so good off leash I never practice with it at home.  Then, in class, it's always getting tangled and wrapped around our legs.  Of course, it came in rather handy when all he wanted to do was bolt towards Dave and the door, but in general I can't wait until he can be off leash at class (and hopefully not afraid by then).

In the end he actually did better.  Our teacher dropped the teeter so it would bang on the ground and Jonah didn't mind at all.  Last of all, we did the tunnel and he went right through with no problem!  This was the one thing all day where I really saw that our work had paid off.  He was so frightened of the tunnel last week, but today he showed no sign of fear and jogged right through.  Phew.  That said, he might not have flinched at the teeter noise and he may have gone through the tunnel, but still in between activities he was not in a happy, relaxed state.  In fact, he wasn't his happy self for a few hours after class.

So, I don't really know what to do.  I want agility to be a positive experience for him, and I think it is at home, but not in class.  Since I don't have the equipment or experience to teach him myself, we need to go to a class, but I'm worried he's going to shut down from wanting to do agility if going to class keeps being so frightening.  Today didn't seem to be any better than last week, so I don't know if we should continue going back.  Would another facility be a better match for us?  Will he get better if we just keep going?  Is he just not going to be an agility dog?  Or is he not ready for agility yet?

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