Cooper and I started a pre-agility class a few weeks ago. The idea for the course is to establish the foundations you need before you can really get into agility. Fool that I am, I thought we’d nail the class – after all, he’s smart and we have a great relationship. Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way!
I underestimated just how freaked out he would get. The new place, a room filled with unfamiliar people and dogs, strange equipment… He tucked his little tail, trembled, and whined the entire first hour.
It turned out to be a blessing, then, that we were working on behaviors he already knew. We practiced having our dogs sit at our sides, wait, loose leash walk, and make eye contact. All of those behaviors he knows well, so it helped that I wasn’t asking him to learn something new while trying to help him feel more confident in the scary setting.
At the end of that first class, the trainer broke out a pile of ropes and wanted us to each play tug with our dogs as a reward and for a little break. All the dogs got super into it. Except Cooper. He sat and stared at me. He was done. He wouldn’t get up. He wouldn’t lie down. He definitely wouldn’t take the toy. He reached his limit, and it was on me to realize that!
Weeks two and three got progressively better. I wouldn’t say that he’s confident, but he’s definitely more confident than he was that first week. And that’s all I can ask for, incremental improvement.
Anyway, I figure if this guy can do it, we can do it, too! (BTW, I can’t remember where I saw this originally or else I’d love to give that blog credit. So if it was you, thank you for the inspiration and smile!)