Class number 2 today, and Inara did even better than last time! We had to go into the bathroom straight upon arriving in class. That didn’t surprise me or bother me, though – I think Inara will just always be one of those dogs who announces her presence upon entering a room with other dogs. We then had to go into the bathroom maybe 5 more times the rest of the hour. That’s a huge improvement! The last 3 times we only were in there for about 10 seconds, which was great. I figured out that it’s the Corgi in class that’s setting Inara off when she does go off. It stares at her and is barely under control. It was also very vocal this week which didn’t help. Ginger put a barrier up in between Inara and the Corgi and that made a big difference. I really wish I had video of Inara pre-Relax class and Inara now. Ginger was commenting that even her FEET looked more relaxed, and she was right. Her toes weren’t splayed out, digging into the mat like they used to do. Her breathing was more normal. And her tail was wagging, but at a nice mid-line level, not flagged over her back. She really seemed to enjoy herself today, and a couple of the times she barked it was at me in play. I was totally okay with that (and Ginger was as well) because it was nice seeing her be able to relax a bit and engage with me. Ginger hopes we’ll be able to compete by the end of May. There’s a competition then and it’s apparently outside, so she thinks Inara would be even better outside than in a building. I’m just totally loving this dog that Inara is turning into!
So my instructor, Ginger, encouraged me to sign Inara up for a C-Wags class ( http://www.c-wags.org/ ) because she really wants us to compete. I was nervous about being in a class w/”normal” dogs but she said there was only one other dog signed up.
I got an email from her the night before class started: “don’t freak out but there are 5 other dogs now.” Holy crap. She said she still wanted us to take it if I was comfortable doing so. So I said what the hell and off we went.
Had a slight panic attack as I pulled in because there were dogs EVERYWHERE. A class had recently let out and mine was about to begin. So Inara of course started barking non-stop in the car. I parked at the WAAAAAAY far end and just walked Inara around until the dogs all went in or left. Then Ginger poked her head out and said she’d come get me in a second once she had the other dogs/owners settled in.
So we walked in and of course Inara started barking like an ass. Ginger wanted to try a new tactic with her though – if she barks and acts up, give her a non-reward marker (mine for this is “sucks to be you!” said very cheerfully) and take her into the bathroom where she can’t see the other dogs. Because she is so hypermotivated to see them and interact with them, this ended up being an AWESOME “punishment.” If she barked more than once, off we went to the bathroom. Ginger had stuck me right by it so it was very convenient. But it worked SO WELL. Inara caught on really quickly and after I dragged her into the bathroom she’d quiet down in just a few seconds. So it was great because we actually got to really participate in class!
Inara seems to be a bit more advanced than some of the other dogs. We worked on sit/walk around your dog and down/walk around your dog. Inara is great at that but a lot of dogs were having problems. Then we did sit/down/sit all in heel position. Again, Inara rocked the house at that, popping up and down immediately, while others were struggling. We worked a bit on some heeling games to teach the dogs that it’s a good position to be in. And we worked on the dogs relaxing a bit in that environment. Then we worked on the dogs staying in a sit for a polite greeting. Major FAIL, . So we’re taking major baby steps with that with Ginger starting about 5′ away and only taking a step forward if Inara stays sitting. She was only able to take one step. Ginger said we’ll work on that one a WHOLE lot because she knew that would be the hardest one for Inara.
All in all it was a FANTASTIC class and both Ginger and I were shocked at how well Inara did. I’m really excited about her progress and maybe we’ll get to the point where we can actually compete at some point!