Friday, August 20, 2010

Class #3 and Other Travels

Before class even started, Jonah got to go for a trail ride.  He was initially confused when I got on the horse, and he barked a few times, but once he settled he was a total star.  We hacked around for about an hour up and down hills, mostly walking but Jonah even ran along when we trotted.  At the end I took him over to the water jump which he adores, and he jumped the bank in (about a 2' drop), and immediately laid down in the water.  Happy boy!  He kept dunking his head in so it would splash, and then he would come up blinking because he had water in his eyes.  After rolling around and getting every single hair thoroughly soaked, he raced out of the water and rolled in the sand, becoming incredibly disgusting.  Thrilled and disgusting, though.  Once we got back and I'd put the horse away I gave him a good hosing, which he was not thrilled about ("What's wrong with being filthy, Mom?"), but he was at least presentable for class.

I took a minute before going into class to remind myself that it was my job to stay positive the whole time.  It took some effort sometimes (mostly to stay calm when the teacher would snap at me for not following directions I hadn't heard--it's SO loud in there, but I think she assumes we're all just unable to pay attention), but I would say I maintained a good attitude about 95% of the time.  That's a huge improvement from last time.  And Jonah showed huge improvement, too.  I'd say he went from being frightened out of his brain about 95% of the time last week to 30% this time. 

There were still times when he would simply not comply:  when we were running around to warm up he slammed on the brakes whenever we got near the door;  sometimes he would show no interest at all in food; there were points when you'd think he had never learned a sit or down command. 

And yet, there were these brilliant moments when he was right there with me.  We did a new spinning exercise and he totally got it the first repetition--AND managed to maintain focus on it the whole time, while everyone else in the class needed special attention and practice.  He raced through the tunnel like a real agility dog.  We shaped the dogs walking through the ladder and he understood that faster than any other dog in the class, and the teacher told us he was smart (high praise, from her). 

Most of the time I would say he was somewhere in the middle.  He would do the exercises we were asking, but he lacked enthusiasm.  Still, the fact that he actually did them was a huge relief.  At one point, he had to go practice having his two front paws down off a stair and touching a target.  Of course, we were assigned to the scary stair in the far corner of the room, where there were no lights and he was as far away from the other dogs as possible.  At first he was far too stressed to focus, but after a minute he settled nicely and really 'got it.'

So, I was still exhausted as I was leaving class and Jonah was still very anxious to exit the building, but there was clear improvement.  We're on our way!

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