Sunday, March 4, 2012

BAT: Setups 2 and 3 & Reflections on Classes

So, we continue to work with Sagan on BAT setups. The second one I tried with with Sadie, an SBT from my agility class. Sadie has a certain zest for life. Behold:

I tried an altered protocol with Sadie.  I have this hypothesis that Sagan's reactivity on leash comes mostly from frustration.  Though he does/can feel threatened and trapped, I think most of it is frustration.  So they played off leash before agility class.  Then at the end of class, I let them meet nose to nose on leash.  Success with this short encounter.

The third set-up I did was with Sagan's previous obedience instructor, and three of her pack:  Cooper (a Newfoundland), Tess, and Bert (a terrier mix).  Sagan met Tess a long time ago, but had not met the other two.  We did all of this classic BAT setup, mostly without food.  There were minimal snarks when noses accidentally touched, but nothing inappropriate.
We did some nice side-by-side treating, and then Sagan got to meet Cooper off leash.  Boy, did they romp and wrestle (for as long as a large Newfie can romp and wrestle) :-)  

Rally class continues to go well, though Sagan REALLY hates this lab (mix?) named Leon in class.  I can't quite figure it out, but he is settling down SOME in class now.  Class is packed right now with six dogs and humans, so it is a management challenge each day to ensure he is safe and not getting pushed over threshold.

Agility also continues to go well.  Nichole (who owns Sadie, pictured above) taped several of our runs. Sagan has not been super focused here or in rally lately, but you get the drift:

We've also been teaching the weave poles at home, using guides and channels.  The weaves are currently 3" apart....  with no guides, Sagan squirts out about every 5th run on a miscellaneous pole.

So Sagan is almost 15 months old.  This has been a whirlwind of a ride so far.  I find myself periodically switching between being super proud of him, and still getting caught up in "the dog I thought I was signing up for."  If that sounds sad, and a little pathetic, it probably is.  Sometimes I think I've failed him somehow, and sometimes I think he came messed up.  Regardless, I really feel like I need to view our classes right now as a culminating accomplishment, rather than a means to an end.  The reality is that I may never compete him.  The thought upsets me not because I am competitive, but because the reason he may never be competition ready is....I don't know that I have the gumption and time necessary to help his reactivity.  It is my top priority right now, but I feel like with my skillset and problem-solving abilities, there is only so much I am going to be able to do.  I feel guilty because I'm sure he *could* be a good competition dog.

.....sidenote......No wonder so many dogs from busy families end up in the shelters.  I'm fairly certain Sagan could have been one of those dogs.

I love Sagan to bits, and we are managing quite well.  I only wish I didn't feel I had to "manage" him and that we could just enjoy these classes together.

Alright, so as not to end on a negative, here's 2 stars and a wish, which I started earlier and need to keep doing.

2 stars:
1) Sagan's people reactivity is virtually non-existent about 95% of the time.  And with the 5% worry, I can tell it is going to happen and prevent the situation.
2) Sagan's recall in agility is getting better, and I don't have to tote him around by his collar all the time to keep him with me.  Excellent.

1 wish:
1) To have Sagan's reactivity limited to a dog invading a small bubble of his personal space.  That his bubble decreases significantly in the next few months as we work these protocols.

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