Ryan was a superstar at agility last night. He is so consistent and FAST! I really *really* hope that doesn't change (doubt the speed will - it's the consistency that I'm a little worried about as he starts loving the game even more). He missed one contact and backed himself right back onto it, missed a few weave entries but then redid them within 2 tries perfectly and was just so good about responding to all of my cues. We would do the same sequence with front crosses if I could get there and rear crosses if I got behind and he responded just as well to both. I think he is ready to be signed up for Regionals! I love running him. He is happy all the time and will take whatever reward I have to give him with enthusiasm. He has never lost his brain more than a quick 'lie down' break will fix and even that rarely happens.
Abby's brag has been that she is going for runs with me a lot on a trail that used to be impossible to bring her on. Half of it has fencing on either side to protect the plants and I think that used to make her feel trapped when joggers or bikes would come through (even though the trail is pretty wide). I still don't trust her 100% but (knock on wood) she has been *so good* lately. She hasn't even glanced at people and has even ignored a horse and a few exciting fetch playing dogs.
I chalk it up to maturity, a lot of desensitization and "look at that" games, having a brother as a punching bag (sudden wrestling seems to coincide with stressful situations), and me being a lot stricter/sterner with her. If she ignores me and takes off to scream at an exciting dog she gets a very stern "lie down" for about 10 seconds and then I release her. So far she has never gone back to whatever was happening before her little time out. I think I used to be afraid of traumatizing my "poor little rescued scared shy dog" with any strict tone or correction of any kind. It was only when I noticed that not all of Abby's reactions were fear based and that there were a lot of times when she was just plain being a bitchy jerkface that my interactions with her started to change a bit and she really started to improve. I don't want this to sound like I started jerking her around by the collar and scruff shaking her - nothing like that! I think it's more that I used to be so soft with her and not clear enough with my expectations for how she was to behave. Once I started expecting certain things (no, you do not *ever* chase people or scream at-bite dogs playing ball) those things started to happen.
I also cannot speak highly enough of the book "Control Unleashed". So many good ideas in there!
I was looking back at some stuff I wrote while looking for a 2nd dog and how I thought it would let me appreciate Abby more instead of trying to force her to be the "bring anywhere" dog that I wanted her to be. It really worked! When I want a dog to bring somewhere with lots of people or dogs or anything, I grab Ryan. I don't feel sad anymore that Abby isn't that kind of dog - I appreciate her for the many many qualities that she has (super athlete do anything you ask velcro dog who is 100% attached to just me? that's my Abby!). I feel very lucky that everything has worked out so well.
Love my nutty mutts!