December 1, 2011
Enter your password to view comments.
March 22, 2011
After last week’s stressful agility class, I braced myself for our classes last night. I thought Tara’s reactivity levels would still be high, but I was hoping for slightly more relaxed behavior. In order to tip the cards in our favor, I took her for an off-leash hike before class to get a little extra exercise over a typical walk. I also started her back on fish oil supplements last week. I have noticed a correlation between the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids she consumes and her behavior. While it doesn’t necessarily make her less reactive, it seems to reduce the number of over-the-top reactions she has and her ability to recover afterward. Every little bit helps!! I also made sure to have extremely high value treats (meatballs and baby food) and arrived early to get her settled and relaxed in a crate before class started. I had been covering her in the crate, but I decided to see if it made any difference leaving her uncovered yesterday. She did snark at 2 or 3 dogs who came near her crate but she immediately stopped when I told her to leave it, even when I was all the way across the building. She doesn’t care for dogs staring at her in her box or playing too vigorously in front of her.
Other than the crate reactivity, Tara was awesome! She was relaxed and focused on her work. She had no issues with other dogs coming within a few feet of us while waiting our turn. It probably didn’t hurt that the Dachshund from last week was absent either! She did watch a different log-haired Dachshund handler team very closely while they were running their sequence. She was flicking her tongue (a stress/calming signal) as she was watching, but she redirected easily and gave me eye contact.
We struggled with some of the agility handling we were doing last night, but we managed to work through it together. I think last night was a huge success for us!
March 21, 2011
Last Monday, Tara and I began our new session of agility classes. We are taking Contacts & Weaves and Handling 2. Usually, Tara is fairly at ease at agility, at least in comparison with other new places. She relaxes and focuses on whatever we are practicing. She can even be in close proximity to other dogs while lying down, which is practically unheard of for her. Sometimes I almost forget how reactive she can be.
Our class last week was a good reminder that I need to stay on my toes and even with all the hard work we’ve done, she is still a reactive dog and probably always will be. From the moment we pulled in the parking lot she was on high alert. She was very environmentally aware and keeping very close attention to where other dogs were and what they were doing. She was not having full-blown reactions. She was not barking and lungeing or making a big display, but she was very uncomfortable and I was having to watch her every move. With every break we had, I did some simple focus work or gentle massage to calm her.
We made it about 1/3 of the way through Contacts & Weaves when another dog, a Dachshund, escaped from her owner’s control and started zooming around the ring. This was the second time of the night that she had gotten away, but this time she ran head-on at my Tara while she was weaving. It was way too much for Taa to handle and she lunged out of the weaves and began to chase the smaller dog.
In a split second, horrific images of the Dachshund’s demise flashed through my brain. Somehow, though, I had the presence of mind to recall Tara who turned on a dime and raced back to me. I was very shaken by the event and after giving Tara some treats for coming immediately when I called, I took her outside for a walk.
I do not blame Tara for what happened, she displayed normal reactive dog behavior in protecting her space, albeit a bit over the top. I’m ecstatic that she came when called and with such enthusiasm and speed that instructors and classmates all commented and praised us for it. I did need the reminder and wake up call that I can not take this lightly and she is still a reactive dog who still needs plenty of active work to get her to ignore other dogs and look to me for protection and instruction instead of taking matters into her own paws.
A week later, I can also see that we are on the right track. A year ago there is no way she would have responded to my recall and I think it is a testament to our relationship that she did hear me and chose to come to me instead of continuing to chase that dog. And thank goodness for that, I’m not sure I could have caught her if she hadn’t responded.
Here’s hoping for a slightly better night tonight at class.
March 11, 2011
Leave a Comment
When the weather is bad, neither Tara nor I want to spend time outside for our usual walk. Yesterday was just such a day. When we started our walk it was lightly showering, but after about 5 minutes it started to come down harder. It continued to rain harder till it was a full on downpour! Tara tried to walk under the umbrella with me for a bit, but she was having trouble finding the right position since she is so long. She could have most of her body under, but her nose or her tail were getting hit by the heavy drops falling off the edges of the umbrella. We cut our walk short and headed straight back to the house.
On days like these, I’m glad I have a few jumps and weaves to practice agility in the house. We worked on weave entries and Tara did fantastic! She was hitting her entries around the clock and made no mistakes. I was even working on varying my position around the weaves to proof her finding the entry on her own. I can’t wait for the ground to dry out so I can work with some more space. I found some exercises on cleanrun.com that use only four jumps, two tunnels and a set of weaves that I’m really excited to try. I only have one tunnel, but I think I will replace the second with a hoop, it’ll just change the exercise a bit.
Another rainy day activity I like to do is ball work. We were first introduced to work with an exercise ball in our basic shaping class at our agility training facility. Basically, the dog sits, stands or lies on the ball and you can do various exercises to increase their balance, strength and flexibility. You have to start out slow with less than 5 minutes on the ball because it works the dog’s whole body. Over time, as they work up to it, you can increase time so it becomes an excellent way to exercise inside! Think of it as weight training and core work for dogs. I try to do ball work with Tara at least once a week. I have an egg-shaped ball that we work with. It’s important to make sure the ball is big enough for the dog’s back to be straight, so there are special “peanut” and “egg” shaped balls that you can use. In the video of Tara’s ball work, the ball looks too small for her because her back is curved up. It had lost a lot of air at the beginning of our session because the stopper kept rubbing against the wall. Once I re-inflated it, it is now big enough for her.
If you’re interested in trying out ball work, there is a DVD, “Get on the Ball 2,” from cleanrun.com that you could check out. I have seen clips from it, do not have the DVD yet. I’d like to buy it in the future to get more ideas for things to do on the ball.
March 6, 2011
We will never know for sure what Tara’s “real” birthday is, but someone at a shelter gave her March 6 as her day. Today, she is 3 years old and has been with us for 1.5 years. It has been an amazing ride, and I cannot imagine life without her.
She has come a long way since I first saw her photos on the rescue’s website.
She loves to play at playgrounds.
And even slides down the slides.
She’s learned to live with her kitty sister, Suli.
She’s been hiking at Great Falls.
And just about every other local park.
She’s learned to play with reckless abandon.
She’s had her first and many more snow days!
She’s even visited Washington, DC.
She’s posed on many many picnic tables.
And climbed a couple trees.
We’re so happy to have her.
Happy Birthday beautiful girl!
February 23, 2011
Leave a Comment
I’ve been trying to do some more agility practicing at home lately now that we have a bunch of jumps. I used the one wing-less jump to work with Tara. The purpose of one jump work is to teach her to collect – pick up her feet and get over the jump! She started at about 16 inches and we worked up to about 26 inches. I didn’t notice till I watched the video that she hits the bar with her tail a lot! This is something I’ll pay more attention to in future sessions so she can learn to keep her tail up.
January 27, 2011
We had a pretty big snowstorm yesterday, so my class was cancelled this morning and I worked from home. I decided to use my free time this afternoon to build some agility jumps. So after a nice long walk and some play time in the snow with Tara, we drove down to Home Depot to pick-up a PVC cutter. As it turns out, Tara also got to come in the store! I never thought to ask whether they allowed dogs before, and today on a whim asked as I walked in and it turns out they do! She was on her best behavior, and I was so proud of her being in a completely new and different place! Enough of my ramblings…
DIY Agility Wing Jump
3 – 1″ thick 10 foot PVC pipes (332 inches PVC total used)
4 – 1″ elbow connectors
12 – 1″ T connectors
8 – 1″ PVC caps
Clip and Go Jump Cups (cleanrun.com)
Cut PVC into following sizes:
8 x 4″
8 x 8″
6 x 30″
4 x 2″
1 x 48″ (jump bar)
Assemble as in the photos: