Holy amazing weekend, Batman!

So Inara had a crazy amazingly good weekend!  It was busy and stressful for her but she handled herself spectacularly.

Friday night we started a new class at Fortunate Fido.  It’s an intro to C-WAGS Rally-O.  We’ve not done any Rally-O before so this is new stuff for us.  Also, there are other dogs in the class, which Inara is learning to deal with well.  However, this time there are FIVE – count them, FIVE! – other dogs.  Holy crap!  The most other dogs we’ve dealt with is three.  Fortunate Fido isn’t huge, so having six dogs in there is cozy.  Ginger had a ring gate up between us and the closest dog (I think more for me than Inara, LOL), but it was still nerve-wrecking!

Ginger had us come in first so we could assume our position by the bathroom.  I kept her in the bathroom while the other dogs came in, but she was still VERY worked up.  Lots of barking and ignoring my existence for about 10 minutes.  Once she settled down I opened the bathroom door but we stayed in there, just clicking/treating for attention.  Eventually we were able to move into the little hallway outside the bathroom where she could peek out to see the other dogs but they weren’t in her constant sight.  We continued working on focus and played a lot of Look At That.  After maybe 30 minutes we were able to do some of the exercises, out in full sight of the other dogs.  By the end of class, we were actually doing a Rally course out in the middle of all the other dogs!  We had five dogs around us and Inara was doing a small Rally course!  I nearly died of joy.

And then Saturday there was a big dog event, the Doggie Doo, where vendors and doggy professionals can set up tables and the dog-owning public can meet everybody.  There are TONS of dogs there, not all of them under great control *wink*.  But Ginger asked Inara and I to help out with a demo of shaping.  Oh dear.  Terrifying.  But we’ll give it a shot.

We got there early before there were too many other dogs.  Before long though, the hoardes arrived.  And Inara had a melt-down.  Okay, that’s a lie – she had several melt-downs.  But you know what?  She recovered each and every time.  I was able to regain her attention.  And we did our demo successfully.  Within a few minutes, Inara had been shaped to push herself on a skateboard.  And we did a little Rally course as well!  In front of an audience of both people AND dogs!  I was completely beside myself!

Isn’t it amazing what our dogs can do when we give them a chance to push beyond their (and our?) perceived limits?

9 or 10 week old Inara, snuggler from the beginning!

Graduation Night!

For Inara, that is.  🙂  We graduated last night from our Attention At Heel class at Fortunate Fido.  It ended up being such a super fun class!  I really never thought we’d have so much fun heeling and practicing turns, but we really did.  Inara was consistently bouncy, with a waggy tail and playful attitude, even though there was another dog in the class.  She especially loved it when Ginger broke out the jumps – at one point she was just jumping back and forth faster than I could click and treat!  She didn’t care about the c/t – she just wanted to jump!  LOL

We rarely had to do any Sucks To Be You Sequesterings (STBYS).  Most of her barking was very playful and when we were having downtime letting the dogs rest.  She wanted none of that resting business!  She wanted to WORK!  I didn’t do the STBYS for the playful barking at me – I saved those for when she was just blatantly barking at the other dog for attention, but that only happened a handful of times throughout the whole 6 week session!

Through this class, we worked a lot on teaching the dogs that the heel position was a great place to be – we would do maneuvers that kept the dogs moving and active, and by using targeting we’d eventually end up with them back in heel position, with a big c/t for that.  We practiced sidestepping both directions, backing up in heel (Inara actually does that pretty well, one step at a time!), tons of different turns (cripes, who knew there were so many fancy turns in Rally competitions???), jumping, figure 8’s, etc.  It was never dull, for the handlers or dogs!

I know I shouldn’t still be surprised by how far Inara has come, but I can’t help it.  Ginger and I were lamenting the fact that we don’t have video from the first day of Relax class so we could do a true comparison.  That first day was rough – non-stop barking and lunging, no attention on me, and she couldn’t even see the other dogs!  Now she’s able to work around other dogs and remain focused on me as long as the dogs stay about 10′ away.  She cannot yet sit still and watch other dogs jump and race around, but that’s okay.  We’ll get there.

I’m finding that a great reward for her is the opportunity to jump up and touch my hand.  She used to just jump up with her front feet, leaving her back feet on the ground, but last night she decided to leap straight up with all four feet to bump my hand!  Her head was even with mine!  It was so much fun!  And I’m thrilled that she’s enjoying targeting so much since we can’t treat in the trial ring, but I can have her do that.  🙂

We’re starting a new class tomorrow night.  I’m a little nervous about this one because there are 4 or 5 other dogs in it and it’s going to involve a lot of movement because it’s a C-WAGS Rally class.  We’ve never tried Rally before but I think it’ll be a lot of fun.  We’ve just not had a class with that many other dogs in it.  Ginger is going to give us our regular corner by the bathroom so we can easily do our STBYS.  I’ll keep you guys updated!

I’ve begun kind of interning with Ginger, which is neat.  I’m helping her return phone calls and schedule appts, and I’m tagging along on private appts.  I’m doing a shaping demonstration for her on Saturday at a big dog event, which is scary!  I hope we don’t get performance anxiety in front of all those people!  LOL

Well, I will try to keep this updated more frequently with our progress.  I appreciate all the kind comments you all leave!  I like knowing that some of you are getting hope and ideas from my blogs.  Let me know if there’s anything in particular you want covered!

Inara with the greatest dog toy ever - Tuffy's "Rant the Ant"