Saturday, March 15, 2008

Trial; a-frame shame

Lucy ran in five classes at Morning Star today. Walter stayed home because I find it much more relaxing and enjoyable having only one dog to worry about when running in two different rings.

The first event was Advanced Jumpers, held in ring 1 which is very wide open. She ran in this ring once before, back in January and was a total scatterbrain. Well, history repeated itself and we were both total scatterbrains, with no connection whatsoever. I had to keep calling her name to try to keep her with me, and having to worry about trying to keep her with me didn't help me remember where we were going on course. It wasn't much fun for either of us and we sure gave that judge's arm a workout.

The rest of her runs were in ring 2 which has solid walls on three sides unlike the wide-open ring 1, and normally she's done fairly well there.

First up in ring 2 was Starters Standard #1. She did well except she ran past the frame and took a snaked-under tunnel to come back to me, incurring an off-course.

Next up was Standard #2. Again, she ran past the frame but I called her back and she took it without getting an off-course, and since refusals on contacts don't count in Starters she picked up a Q.

Then it was Starters Snooker. I went for a fairly flowing course rather than points, doing the #4 tunnel twice followed by the #7 12-weaves which she really slowed down in, popping at the last pole. (I just popped her back in to finish them off.) In the closing, she ran past the frame but came back and did it, but pausing at the top. We would have made it through to the end of the closing except she kept entering the weaves at the second pole. Anyway we had just enough points for a Q which finishes off her Starters games title.

Finally it was Steeplechase. What a disaster. It started off on the wrong note when two teeny bopper girls volunteering as ring crew right next to the start line were giggling and looking at Lucy just as I was finishing setting her up. So of course when I released her, what did she do, run right over to them with wagging tail to see what all the fun was about. Sigh. Ok, pick her back up and off we go. All was going well until we got to the frame. The frame was in the course twice, and both times she refused it. The first time I had to resort to the "look what I have" method to get her to take it. The second time, as soon as she saw it was the frame she went running off down a line of jumps. Would have been an amazing "go" line for a gamble, wow. When she came back she clearly wasn't interested in the frame so we didn't do it and finished the last two obstacles of the course. Oh yeah, and she wasn't into the weaves in the Steeplechase either.

I've known for a while that Lucy needs to take some time off from trialing soon to retrain her frame since I've abandoned 2o2o but haven't trained anything proper in its place. (That's what I meant by a-frame shame -- bad trainer, bad, bad trainer.) I've been hoping to just sort of wing it until then.

At this point I'm not suspecting her a-frame stress/avoidance is due to injury. In class a week or two ago she was doing just fine on the frame (although it may have been at specials height). She was also doing fine on the 12-weaves in class.

I think what's happening is (a) she's not fond of the regular height frame, especially doing 2o2o on it; and (b) she's not fond of the lack of any kind of performance criteria so the frame is a big cloudy uncomfortable mess in her mind. Throw in the general stress of a trial situation and she's not a happy a-frame camper. Also throw in that five classes in a day is too much for her at this point. (She was sleeping in the car between runs which is great but she didn't seem to fully wake up towards her last runs.)

It's too late to withdraw from her next two trials so we'll give them a go. Before her next trial I'm going to try using her Most Favourite Reward Ever (canned dog food) in conjunction with the frame and see what happens. Canned dog food worked wonders in getting her happy on the teeter and dogwalk (with which she had absolutely no issues today, yay) so we'll see what it does for the frame. Of course, the canned dog food is just a bandaid until the end of this round of trials at which point I promise her she gets a time out to retrain a happy frame (there are some great training ideas here and here).

Classes entered: 5 (Advanced Jumpers, Starters Standard 1 and 2, Starters Snooker, Steeplechase)
Qs: 2 (Starters Standard 2 and Snooker)
Bars knocked: 0
YPS: didn't track it
Title earned: Starters Games Dog of Canada (SGDC)


Jasmine said...

Lucy a scatterbrain? I've yet seen that.

Congrats on your SDGC title!

Elayne said...

Congrats on your title!

Lola has a lot of stress with the table so if I’ve got an NQ anyway and she does a nice table I’ll sometimes leave the ring to give her a big reward. If you can get a good frame out of Lucy it might be worth a try even if you lose a Q. Good luck with your training, it’s hard to deal with a stressy obstacle but maybe with enough canned dog food she’ll change her mind about the frame.

Elf said...

Well, what fun with the AFrame! I had exactly this sort of thing in mind when composing my song for today.


LucyandWalter said...

Yes, Lucy and I have our fair share of scatterbrain moments. Sometimes in flyball too - you are bound to witness one sooner or later, Jasmine's human!

Thanks for the title congrats; it was kind of dampened by the frame issues, but still, I'll take it.

That's a good idea about leaving the ring mid-run to reward a good performance. At this point I'm hoping I won't have to, because it would be so hard to do if the run was clean up to that point. With the amazing brainwashing power that canned dog food seems to have over Lucy I'm hoping it won't come to that, but it will be a good tool and definitely something to consider.

Elf: Hey, those are some great lyrics! I'm feeling your a-frame pain.