Friday, February 24, 2012

take the good with the "bad"

At agility today, Roxy decided she only wanted to wander around the course when it was our turn to run... she had no interest in actually running, or even walking around, with me.  But she did run with our instructor, and she greeted every person that came within a few feet of her with tail wags and butt-offerings ("Here's my rear, please scratch!"), including a complete stranger.

And on the way home we stopped to get gas, and Roxy didn't bark at the gas station attendant and responded to "leave it" when I asked.... which has been something we've been working on, but haven't had a whole lot of success with.  After all, the gas station attendant is a monster who attacks the car, and Roxy doesn't like it one bit.  So, this was a proud and happy moment for us.

I guess I'll take a dog who occasionally ignores me on the agility course (the "bad") if it means a dog who happily greets strangers and doesn't make the gas station attendant pee his pants (the good)!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

roxy's learning to play

Roxy and I have been playing agility for a little over a year now, and she really seems to enjoy it. My goal has been to keep things light and fun. I want agility to be a positive experience for her, a happy outlet for energy, and another way to help build her confidence. So far we've been pretty successful, although there are times I get a little frustrated when I can't figure out what is going wrong, but I've learned that when I get frustrated, we get nowhere, so instead of getting frustrated, I just run around the agility course with her, pretending there isn't actually a course to run. Anything she does is fair game and then we're done for the day. It helps me get my frustration out, and makes sure to keep it fun for her without much pressure to do certain things.

So, with agility we've started playing a bit more, in general. I'm experimenting with different techniques to get Roxy to play with me more, so I can transfer them over to agility and help build speed and drive in her. The first thing I did was put her play bow on cue.  I say "Roxy, play paws!" and she play bows.  I use it to get her excited, because "play paws" is how I get her excited to play with me at home.  It's transferred over to agility class a bit, but I really want to find other ways to get her excited (partly so I don't have to get on my hands and knees anytime I want her to run fast, but also because it's good to mix things up with her and use different motivators!).

So, I've been working on getting her interested in playing with toys that don't involve food (like tennis balls, tug toys, stuffed toys, etc.). Some days, I come home from work and she's beyond happy to play with a tennis ball. Usually she only wants to play with the one that Buster has, but nevertheless, she wants to play with it, which makes me happy! When we play, it's not a formal game of fetch or tug or anything -- it's playing however she wants to play and however she's having fun doing it.

So, here's a short clip of her playing and chasing a tennis ball. Although I don't think she's really too sure how the game works yet, she does seem to be enjoying herself, at least a little bit.

This is a huge improvement over her previous interactions with tennis balls, which included the patented, "Why you fro dat fing?" look with the long-winded, "I aint gettin dat," sigh.

In addition to playing with the tennis ball, Roxy has also been learning how to tug!  Prior to a few months ago, the only thing she'd tug was her flirt pole.  That's literally the only toy she'd play with, besides from de-stuffing toys, and that isn't a team sport for Roxy.  Her normal flirt pole is taller than I am, which makes it a bit cumbersome to use while running a course, so I made a small flirt pole, but she wasn't quite as interested in it, so I still need to troubleshoot that.  In the meantime, we started playing with the easy "Tug-It!" toy, which she wound up tugging into 2 pieces in a matter of 30 seconds (thanks to turkey sausage!), so we moved on to the advanced version, which she enjoys and tugs with, but hasn't destroyed yet (whew!).  I also have a rabbit fur tug style toy that we can put food in, but the interest in that is still short-lived, so we'll keep working.  Either way, I'm happy she's tugging on something small enough to bring to agility classes.