Agility - just keep coming back

Posted by: Tara

Agility - just keep coming back - 09/14/13 06:03 PM

Well, after some time off after the Lori Michaels seminar last spring, I'm starting agility classes with Tara again. I think that if I can just stay relaxed, she will not have any trouble, but the agility field has become a trigger for me to get really worked up and worried she's going to react to the other dogs - and of course, then she does. She's been excellent around other dogs recently - ran with two new dogs this week and even met a completely strange dog on leash at the farmers' market this morning (accidentally). So, I need ideas for keeping myself from getting to stressed out when I get to the agility field so that we remain calm throughout the class. I'm going to try using some lavender, doing yoga beforehand and concentrating on breathing. Anything else I can try?
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 09/14/13 09:55 PM

Positive self talk. You have to try to change your response to the field. All those things will help relax you but will not change your outlook. Have you thought about a rubber band on your wrist? Every time you feel yourself starting to stress snap the rubber band to remind your self to chill out.

When you have a reactive dog it can be a vicious circle with you in the middle of it. I also think there is so much negative emotion from other people about our reactive dogs that we tend to have more baggage about it. I have decided that I don't care if some one thinks my dog is misbehaving. I simply concentrate on my dog and helping her to feel more relaxed. By staying focused on her mood it helps to settle mine. MAy does not like other dogs in her face and tries very hard to keep her distance. Sometimes it does not work out that way and we get a snarl. I really don't care if Fifi's mom gets pissed. That helps me keep it in perspective.

I think it is good you are going back to class. Can you also visit the field with Tara when there are no classes in session to practice your behavior?
Posted by: Tara

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 09/15/13 11:44 AM

Thanks, Kathy. I know it's all in my head. Tara can totally handle it if I can relax - she has been awesome lately - being the decoy dog for other reactive dogs and demoing in other training classes and videos without a glance at the other dogs. The dog people around here all tell me I'm overreacting and that even when she has had issues in the past, it hasn't been as bad as I see it. Really, her reactivity is so diminished these days I should be able to walk onto the field with no problem! I'm not sure I have time to get out to the field another day with classes, but I'll go a little early today to get her out and working while they baby dogs are on the field and I can keep a little distance to calm myself. I think I know all the young dogs and Tara has met at least 4 of maybe 6 total so I'll be more comfortable with that to begin with.

I should really scrap this response and go with the positive talk confidence.

Tara and I are going to rock today. We are going to be focused on agility and just having fun with each other. We are going to run fast and play hard. wink
Posted by: Tara

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 09/16/13 02:32 PM

We had a great first day back to agility yesterday. Armed with my plans for staying calm, I managed to stay mostly relaxed. I felt my blood pressure climbing on the drive to the field so I focused on my breathing. I was a little early, so I got Tara out and played with her while the baby dogs were still on the field, which helped me get into the agility mindset a little. We're a little rusty on our handling, but we were working as a team. After the first run, I put Tara in her crate and was walking back to the instructor and handlers and was thinking about all the things that went wrong in that run (no weaves and others), but decided to only point out the things that went well to try and focus on the good (she didn't leave me! we finished! we got that part that looked really tough when we were walking it!). The rest of the day, I was focused on my dog and running the course rather than worrying about her interactions with other dogs for once. And for the first time ever, our last run of the day was our best run (with an awesome weave entry and full 12 poles)! Instead of a slow decline in motivation and teamwork, we were working together the whole time.
Posted by: Kayos

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 09/16/13 09:12 PM

smile This makes me really happy for you!!!!!
Posted by: Tara

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 09/17/13 02:36 PM

Thanks, Kathy! I am really looking forward to our next class, which unfortunately won't be for two weeks because I'll be away this weekend.
Posted by: Tara

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 10/01/13 06:25 PM

We had another class on Sunday. It was very low stress - Tara knew all the dogs running and only dog she didn't know was the instructor's dog in a pen. Our first couple of runs were a little rough - we were very disconnected. Again, our teamwork improved through the class. I do have some video this week that I will post if I have time to actually download it from the camera and edit it.

I think I need to come up with a new warm-up routine to get us both mentally prepared to actually start the run. Any ideas? I'm thinking a few tricks and some good play right before every run.
Posted by: Tara

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 10/01/13 11:09 PM

Here's one of our runs from class this weekend. Not our best - I screwed up my handling both times, but we got it done.

Posted by: TimberWolf

Re: Agility - just keep coming back - 10/03/13 12:59 PM

That is awesome Kristin. Looks like she did very well. A bonus is that you, too are getting exercise doing this smile smile. Great job!!!