Monday, July 25, 2011

The Table or bust!

Well, I guess we busted.   That was my whole goal for the summer.  Try and fix Miley's table problem.  I really thought if she felt comfortable in the building and place where the trial was, she would get on the table.  I guess that wasnt it.  Now Im at a lost of what to do.  Maybe Im putting to much pressure on her and me to fix this problem.  But Ive tried ignoring it and that didnt work either.  Its just so disappointing.  Her contacts are beautiful , even her teeter is now fixed.   Maybe I do need to run someone elses dog to take the pressure off me and Miley. 

Sunday didnt start off to well. It started with excellent Jumpers.  We have run excellent jumpers 33 times ( I finally got up  the courage to go back and count them up) and no Q's.  Do you think there is something wrong with me?  What is the big deal? Why cant I run a stupid course?????
I had planned to FC after #8 but I stepped to far to support # 6 and then couldnt make that FC.  Well, looking back I should have gone for it but I didnt and she didnt take the jump.  She went around it but I was able to bring her around and get back on course.  Then we dropped the bar on #12 and I said the "d" word. Dropping a bar should not make you say the "d" word.  She went into the weaves and pulled out. What the  heck??  Then dropped another bar.  Ugh. I couldnt believe it.  I felt like we are a mess. I was disconnected from my dog after dropping that bar, thats where my mind stayed. Not good.

I just wanted to go home. What was I even doing here?  I decided to just go to the park, since it will be hours until our next run.  I stayed at the park for 2 hours and took 500 pictures of ducks.   I know, silly but I need to work on my camera skills.  I did much better with only a few dark pictures. 

( not ducks where touched by the dog during these pictures)
When I got back to the trial site I felt much better.  It was nice to not think about agility for a couple of hours.  Then I was sitting next to this lady.  She started talking about her dog. She runs a corgi.  She said, " I dont know why my dog is so pooky in the ring.  I know that  dogs pick up on your emotions and stuff but I love going to trials. I love being in the ring".  You know what I thought, "Really, why?".  I didnt say that. I just let her talk. But it got me thinking about my own feelings about being at a trial.  I dont "love" being at a trial.  Its feels stressful to me. All these people I dont know. What if they want to talk to me and I say something stupid or something that makes them mad. ( dont laugh,its happened to me and then people talk about me behind my back).  What if my dog gets in another dogs space by accident and they fight.  What if I break a rule, like having your dog ring side when no dogs were allowed ring side. Oops, I didnt know.  There is tons of waiting around.  I have to drive hours to get to a trial, stay in a nasty hotel and then at the end of the day when Im exhausted, I have to drive hours home.  So maybe that is my problem.  I dont "love " being at a trial.   I decided to just run my next run.  Enjoy the run for what it is. What ever happens , happens. (thunder and lighting started during open standard, ugh)

This felt like a great run.  In my mind it was wonderful. Miley was so excited at the end, spinning and barking. During the run it felt like she was reading my mind.  How could she make that weave pole entry and get in the correct tunnel entrance if she wasnt?  LOL  But after watching it on video, it doesnt look great at all.  Is it just because its me and Im watching myself?  Hmmmm.

It was a long drive home.  Driving thur pouring down rain.  I finally got out of it and then drove into another storm.  That one was worse.  You couldnt see, everyone slowed down to 20 mph and flashers on. People pulling over to the side of the road.  Thank goodness we got thur that too.   So happy to be home!!!!


Sara said...

I thought both runs were awesome. The table thing really seems to be getting better (to me). She didn't circle as wide or as long compared to your last run. I thought she was going to get on, she ran toward it with such confidence....and then, nope..."let me run around a couple times first". Those weave and tunnel entrances were incredible, that is good training paying off.

I don't find trialing to be much fun either, mostly because my dog finds it so stressful, but also because it is A LOT of time. I always am thinking...hmmm, I could be sitting on my deck reading a book.

Lian said...

Your Open Standard run was lovely. Eventhough Miley did a couple of circle but she got on the table and stay fir you. I think that is good.

I know the feeling of being stress at trial. Our emotion definitely affect the dogs. I was like that when I first competed. I was nervous and stressed and always worried about me doing something stupid to break the rules. To be honest, I am stressed about silly little things every now and then.

Can you bring a friend or someone that you trust to go to trial with you. With a companion that shares your interest will help you relax and discuss a course? I find that very useful.

Anonymous said...

Diana, Her table was SO much better. Everything else on the run looked just great. About the table: does it make a difference if you send her to the table vs. going and standing by the table? Just a thought.

I pretty much got over worrying about what agility people think. If they dislike me or talk crap about me because I am a terrible handler, or my dog is annoying (she is), I couldn't care less. I do have some agility friends who seem to take the whole thing way too seriously and it kind of puts me off. I am trying to hang out more with people who just want to have fun. I started agility with a dog who rarely stayed in the ring with me. For three years. So every run I get with my sheltie girls has felt amazing, because they want to work with me and they love to run. I do get frustrated because I know Hannah could be really good if she had a better trainer and a decent handler. But she just has me, so we muddle thru as best we can.


Dawn said...

My sister who read your blog says maybe you'd like to read a novel called: "The Art of Racing in the Rain". It's a book written by a 'dog' and is about how dogs see things. Her favorite quote: "When I am racing, my mind and body are working so quickly and so well together I must be sure not to think, else I will definitely make a mistake."

She says she hopes you feel better about all this agility stuff soon...and not to be too hard on yourself.

I agree!

Nicki said...

Is there NADAC where you live? The people are always really nice, the atmosphere is laid back, there are lots of runs in the day and no table. You might like it more. It's sad to be so miserable at a trial. I hope it gets better. Miley loves agility and that's awesome. I wish Legend loved it more.

Marie said...

I can certainly understand setting goals to "fix" something and then not see the results you hoped for. :-(

For what it's worth, you are an encouragement to me to keep training. I think that there is improvement in Miley's table issues, but I know it's not where you'd like it to be...yet. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

If Miley will run with another handler, do you have an agility friend that Miley is comfortable with that could run her at a practice to see if she stresses at the table?

While not a great feeling to see one of your dogs run better with someone else (been there, done that) it might be nice to see whether or not the issue is the table or maybe the stress being carried into the ring and then move forward from there.

As for the agility people who talk about people behind their backs. They aren't worth your time. You two ARE a great team and all of the effort you have put in shows. That is the only thing that you need to take into the ring with you. Leave all your own stress outside the ring, it will probably still be there when you finish your run :)

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I agree with everyone's comments! I too think Miley is doing much better with the table at trials! You are so close now.

I don't enjoy trials either. I don't like sitting and waiting all day for my turn. I used to love just going and watching runs for a couple hours and going home. I don't like the trial atmosphere or the life and death importance people put on an activity that is not even remotely life and death. Even though Ricky seems to be doing well with 8" I still haven't decided to go back to novice preferred.

Ignore negative people - you and Miley have come such a long way and are an inspiration to me

Kathy said...

I think you are fine and you are just trying hard, and you care...just seems that you need to be as easy on yourself as you would be to a friend or to your dog, you are fantastic, you know so much, you have so many skilz,...I dont know why there have not been more Q's but I also think that if you do it for Q's then it would be a very frustrating sport. I do not think you do it for Qs and I am soooooooo in awe and impressed that you have kept picking yourself and Miley up and keep on ought to really give yourself a lot of kuddos and a ton of self praise because that takes courage and CHARACTER and guts, you are my hero!!! I find trialing very stressful (for me) and hard, maybe why i have not been in a rush to trial-the whole getting there on time, hauling out the piles and piles of crap to either stay out of the heat or the cold, the listening to all the people tearing apart everyone else, dishing out pronouncements about how everyone else is just not doing it right-even though they have no idea of where that handler/dog team started out, the people who are stressed and get angry at their dogs when things go wrong and the pressure of having to go out there once and not feel like you are letting your dog down if iyou give unclear signals, if you are stressed worrying about giving unclear signals, lOL, worrying about making it rewarding for the dog while upholding your criteria, when to uphold the holy criteria and when to bend so you keep the motivation, ;-), yep I stress myself out.

Morganne said...

What a beautiful Standard run! And although she got a refusal at the table, she didn't do the wide circle zooming.

Do you have DOCNA in your area? Maybe try entering a trial where you don't care about qualifying? Would that take some of the pressure off?

Soleil is entered in a DOCNA trial in a couple weeks for her first time in the ring. I don't care about DOCNA and I can TIR so it will be a good place for her to debut.

BTW, last weekend I also said D...!!!! when Summit dropped a bar. He dropped the triple in Standard on Saturday (so no QQ), then dropped the bar on the triple AGAIN in Standard on Sunday!

Cedarfield said...

Please don't get discouraged you're making progress all the time with Miley and dont forget, she's your first real agility dog, there's bound to be a lot to learn. Can you believe I've been doing agility since 1989? And I'm still learning new stuff every single day.
I have to agree with you about hanging out at trials, though. It's a lot of down time, especially with one dog. I tried going to a lot of trials last Fall thinking that if I went to enough of them I was bound to get the 6 QQs I need for nationals but all it did was mess with my head and make me wish I'd stayed home.
I meant to ask you if you do much USDAA? If not, you should try it. There's a lot less sitting around and you will see some awesome handling which is how I learn best.

Cedarfield said...

Please don't get discouraged, I can see you're making progress even if it isn't always apparent to you.
have you had a chance to work with Karen Holik at all? Or have you read Linda Mecklenburg's handling book? You can even buy her Foundation seminar from Clean Run which I really reccomend.
It is really boring to hang out all day for two runs. As I mentioned, USDAA is much more fun and I'll be doing more of that as soon as I get the rest of the QQs I need for nationals.

Elayne said...

Her tables don't look so bad really, I think she's improved quite a bit. I've been meaning to do a post on how I retrained Lola's table but haven't had the time. I can give you a quick outline and maybe you can get some ideas of things to try.

First off I renamed the 'down' cue to 'splat'. If I were you I'd even rename the 'table' cue. It's possible Miley's built up an association between the cue 'table' and the circle stressing. In the video she doesn't appear all that stressed but almost looks like she's responding to the 'table' cue with circling without really thinking about it.

I found places/situations in the real world where Lola wouldn’t lie down and I retrained the down by turning it into a fun game for her. I had to lure her with food into a down to start out but quickly faded the lure and used a tennis ball (high value reward for her) to quickly reward her. I really engaged her during the ‘Splat’ game, I ran with her, used an exciting voice, whatever I could do to get her riled up then I’d yell ‘Splat’ in a happy, excited voice and as soon as she hit the ground I’d release her and throw her ball right to her. It’s important that you’re clear and consistent with the release word right from the start.

I played ‘Splat’ a lot in different places until the game itself was very fun and reinforcing for her. Sometimes I added the other dogs in for competition and whoever laid down first got the toy. Then I had the table top on the ground and started asking her to ‘Splat!’ on the table, always keeping it fun and action packed. Again I’d add the other dogs in so they were practically pushing each other off the table. My idea was to make lying down on the table fun and reinforcing in itself.

Once she was happily playing ‘Splat’ on the table in the yard I started taking her to fun matches and I brought sardines to reward her. This was a very high value reward for her and she only got them for doing tables at fun matches and eventually trials. I did this because the tennis ball wasn’t a high enough value reward for her with the stress of the fun match/trial environment.

The whole process took about 3 months but in the next year of competition she was about 90% successful compared to maybe 10% successful before the training. You may have to experiment a bit and see what Miley responds to but in general I'd work towards making the table a fun game in order to reframe her negative attitude about it. And always keep the training fun and light, even if she has mistakes. Keeping things fast paced worked for Lola because she's a very 'sticky' dog but you'll have to experiment and see what works for Miley.

Sophie said...

I thought your Open Standard run was awesome! Watching the video, I thought she was going to miss the weave pole entry and the tunnel entrance - but she nailed them both. You've obviously put so much time and effort into working on this, and it's really showing!

The circling at the table didn't seem that bad at all. I agree with Elayne - you should try re-training a completely new table cue. It looked like she was driving to the table until you cued it, so maybe a new go-direct-to-table cue would work.