Same little course, same training field, new criteria.
Today we went up and I had treats with me, and before we ran at all, she didn't have the chance to go into the ring and romp around with her toy, which she likes to do (usually she snatches it from me on the walk up and then runs up and waits for me with a "hah, I beat you!" look). We started it just like it was a trial. The first time in, she was stressed again and I could tell. I really should try and video the next session. She kept breaking her start lines, so we worked a lot on that. I decided I wanted: a 'heel' up to the spot where I put her in a sit stay (and for Psyche that's not a very formal heel, just beside me, offering eye contact, her bum usually swings out more then it should for obedience); a sit at the start line, no stands; a held start line stay to the second jump out, AT LEAST; and at the end, I wanted her to come to me when I said, "Psyche!" and then jump into my arms when I gave the cue, from there I'd set here down and release her to her toys.
After she warmed up to the idea that we were doing that whole thing that stressed her out again she gained a lot more confidence. And from there her biggest issue was the start line stay. They aren't fun to her, and so that's something I need to work on. She gets all serious-dog while waiting, and although all I really need is for her to stay, I don't want her thinking that she has to be all serious and gruff at the start line and having that mind set for the rest of the run. So we're going to start doing some start line stay stuff outside of the ring. Any suggestions?
We spent a lot of work on that, and at one point even just start line stayed to the third jump, then I went back, rewarded and released her to her toy and ran out after her. She seemed to like that, so maybe we'll have to throw some more of those in.
Then I threw a curve ball at her. When we went into the ring, I sat her and stood with her for a few minutes, like we often have to do while waiting for the scribe to be done, the jumps to be set, or the chute to be fixed. That has been a problem for Psyche and I for a long time. It's like she works up the courage to go in, and then while she's waiting decides it's too hard. So we worked some on that, and the first time I did that, she was back to stressed. When I start lined stayed her she broke it to go sniff. So we worked on that some more. And she started to get a lot more comfortable about it.
Now, I'm starting to feel a little crappy about purposely stressing my dog out, but I do it at trials too, without even meaning to, and I can't reward her how she needs to be rewarded there, so this is better, right?
So the plan is to do this one more day at home, and then I think we'll head to the club's training field. I'm eager to see if it's got the same effect there as it does here.
And just for reading all of that...