Friday, January 22, 2016

One Day at a Time

It seems like Barley and I were just starting classes at the new training center, but this week marked our third week--which is half a session--there. I'd like to say that we've overcome the challenges of the big window by now, but it seems like each week brings something new.

In Week 2, one of our regular classmates was out of town, a new classmate joined us, and another of our regular classmates came with a second dog to take the place of the missing dog. Barley handled the changes in dogs very well. Barley always has the floor to herself when it's her turn, so we didn't have to worry about having close encounters with them and could just work on staying calm while they worked.

But the new dogs brought new challenges. Since one person had two dogs, one was crated while the other was on the floor. The dog we're used to has been working on staying calm in the crate when his mom is out of sight, but he was very vocal about being left in the crate while his sister came out on the floor. His sister also somehow got her mouth caught in the bars of the crate during one of Barley's turns and started screaming. Barley immediately stopped in her tracks and started to shut down. I stuck her leash back on her and we started doing some of her relaxation and focus work while the dog was freed and checked out by her mom and our trainer.

The other new dog wasn't an issue at all. He's young and high energy, so we all left the room while he took his turns so he had fewer distractions to work with the first night. Barley and I worked on just relaxing in the storage room off of the main training floor.


Last week and this week, the windows have continued to be a challenge, but our trainer's been giving us some warm up exercises at the end of the floor with the windows to help Barley get used to looking at me for cues rather than admiring her reflection or investigating the headlights in the windows. This week, our trainer had 4 jumps set up in front of the windows and we worked on sending to the jump and calling Barley back to my side for a treat before sending to the next one. We do variations of this any time Barley gets a little wacky and doing it in front of the windows was a good way to remind her that I'm supposed to be the interesting thing in her environment. After we did the drill twice, she was much more focused and was able to do a whole course--with well timed treats at the window end of the room.

Barley had an up close encounter with her new classmate this week. I had Bar set up on her mat in the storage room and I stood in the doorway, so I could listen to the feedback our classmates were getting. At one point, our new classmate got distracted and decided to wander over our way. I wasn't able to get the door shut before he got through. He came bouncing towards Barley, ready to play. That's usually the behavior that sends Barley into a tizzy, but she didn't snarl or snap and she didn't even get a mohawk. She also didn't tell him that she wanted to play, but she remained calmed while his mom came and collected him. And I took steps to make sure we could get the door closed faster should he mosey on over our way again (and the poor fellow had a door shut in his face twice that night!). I was so proud of the way she reacted. 

We haven't settled into the new routine as quickly as I'd like, but as always, Barley reminds me to be patient and take training one step at a time, one day at a time. 



24 comments:

  1. Oh wow! Good girl Barley for handling that dog in your face! When that happens to us, I never know if they will snark or what. That unpredictability can be kind of scary! What a good girl for staying calm!

    Also, that poor dog who got her jaws stuck on the crate! I've had that happen to me at work with groom dogs and it's always terrifying!

    It sounds like Barley's classes are challenging but really going well!

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    1. Barley has never not reacted negatively to a dog running up to her before, so this was a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure if she was calmer because the other dog was bigger than her and she doesn't often encounter bigger dogs or if she has a crush on him or what, but she was very good! Thankfully, the dog that got stuck was fine and got freed almost immediately, but the noise was enough to send Barley into a bit of a panic. I am really proud of her for handling the challenges so well!

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  2. Go Bar! I have a solution to make sure you are the most interesting thing. You should borrow the Ariel onesie ;-)

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    1. I think that would embarrass her more than my new ski mask thing.

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  3. Good job Barley, baby steps and you will get there. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Patience isn't my strong suit, so Barley is very good at reminding me I need to work on that ;)

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  4. It has to be so frustrating with all the issues she has. We see some dogs like that in nose work and it is incredible, but they just keep working at it too.

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    1. I'm not the most patient person, so it can be since I often expect to see major changes immediately and that's not really how training works. But mostly, it's rewarding to see her make progress.

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  5. Good job, both of you! I really admire the work you do with Barley. Reactive dogs are tough!

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    1. We're big fans of your work with Mr. N, too--I love seeing all of the different situations, from hiking to working with kids to visiting stores, that he handles like a champ!

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  6. Wow. That's a lot of small steps in the right direction I would say! Congrats to both of you.

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    1. Thank you! I couldn't be prouder of my girl!

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  7. Nice job, Barley, for staying calm! You are so right, patience is key!!

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    1. Patience is key--it's just a key I seem to keep forgetting ;)

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  8. Good job Barley! In the classes I teach, it's a challenge for many dogs when new dogs come to the class. Sounds like Barley is doing great with all the distractions! Baby steps are good!

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    1. She is doing great! We have the very best classmates, so that helps a lot.

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  9. I can see those windows causing issues. I am surprised Barley is the only dog who has issues with them. Or maybe other dogs do as well? There is a reason that most obedience clubs don't have windows. Great job on training away from the distraction.

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    1. For some reason, the other dogs in our class don't even notice the windows. Some of our former classmates had to move to another class for scheduling issues and the ones that have dogs that have levels of exuberance similar to Barley's said their dogs are fascinated by the windows, too.

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  10. It sounds like you and Barley are coming along well, especially considering all the different challenges you've had. It also seems like the class you are in is great as far as working with you and helping as much as they can.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. We couldn't ask for better classmates. They are the perfect illustration of it taking a village to raise a "child." We're very thankful for all of them.

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