Let's start this thread with a little story about our day yesterday...
Has anyone reading this heard of trigger stacking? Well, if you have, then yesterday - as a whole - was Oscar's version of a perfect storm.
It all started off with the rain yesterday morning. Oscar has a problem with rain...I don't know why, but he just does. He doesn't like to walk in it, doesn't like to walk in puddles, sometimes refuses to go out of a building if it's raining. It's perplexing b/c he LOVES the hose and doggy pools, but I appreciate it for what it is; one of his many quirks.
Anyway, so it started with the rain. On top of the rain, he had a vet appointment yesterday morning to have blood withdrawn. He was an angel in the car the whole trip, although each time the windsheild wipers went on, he gave me "the look" like, "Really, you HAVE to use those things?" Once we got ot the vet, I had him wait in the car as I went in to scope out the environment...there was a guy who walked by the car with a beagle in his arms and Oscar didn't make a peep, so I was feeling pretty good that we would get in and out without any problems. I had kindly asked the vet staff that I wanted to bring him in only if/when a room was ready so we wouldn't have to sit in the waiting room, which is rather stressful for him...so, when a room was ready, I brought him in. Well, apparently I speak a foreign language because one of the staff was just standing there staring at him when I came in, which made him go berko! Bark-bark-bark, lunge-lunge-lunge. I kept him moving and we got into the room without too much drama...
The vet came into the room and he barked at him, eventhough the last time we were there he was totally fine with him. UGH! He took treats from the vet and did a couple more barks and when I had to restrain him for the blood draw, he was not happy, but willing to comply. I felt so bad for him, but I didn't coddle him. I continued to tell him, "Oh, silly Oscar...I don't like blood shots either...tee heee! We're almost done...I hate mornings too..." All-in-all he did OK. Could have definitely done without the stupid lady staring at him though. What is wrong with people! BLARGH!
Fast forward to our evening walk and I thought it would be a good idea to walk around the block and see if a dog that Fanny likes was tied out, like normal, so I could do some BAT with a decoy dog. Well, that backfired in my face. Sure, the dog was out, but what I never realized before is that this dog SUCKS at giving calming signals. So, there I was with my adolescent butthead male dog in a staring contest with this adult male dog (intact, BTW) and they had quite the barkfest. If someone would have handed me a rubber mallet I would have beaten my head into my neck right then and there.
So, on top of these three events, off to Focus and Control class we go...
Lastnight was the second class in the installment of Focus and Control and, well, Oscar didn't do so hot at the beginning because of the shitty day he had been having.
The new "stuff" we worked on in class last night:
1.) Leave It
2.) Whiplash Turns
We started off class by doing mat work...well, Oscar wasn't having that (AGAIN!), so we did a little awareness walking as all the other 5 dogs/people did mat work. He did quite well with auto check-ins.
After that, we moved onto box work where the instructor put all of us into designated spots. Last week we were at the end of the line so we only had one person and dog on one side. Last night the instructor put us inbetween two dogs (BOTH males with male handlers) and we started to do auto check-ins while the dogs were on leash. Oscar did good, not great, but not bad where I was concerned. We progressed to unclipping the leash and that's when the shit hit the fan. Oscar and one of the neighbor dogs saw each other and went to sniff...Oscar's language was good - as was the other dog's - and then something happened (shame on me for not noticing) and he and the other dog went bezerko. I got him back rather quickly and we tried again. I got a couple of auto check-ins then he noticed the other dog - on the other side- and just started barking at him.
It was obvious that Oscar was in over his head so we had him move to the end of the class again and resume working. He did much better there, but I felt like an idiot for having put him through that. NOT what he needed.
The good news is that this was at the beginning of class and his recovery time was wonderful. We did more stationary exercises after that and Oscar shined like an A+ student. Eye contact with distraction, leave-it, targeting...all things Oscar knows quite well. So, that was good, good, good!
Oscar ended the class on a high note. He was very comfortable with the instructor to let her come up and pet him and gave her a couple of hand targets. We all walked out of class together and Oscar didn't have a single problem with the other dogs moving about with their humans.
Aaron will be flying solo with him next week as I'm off on vacation. I'll be thinking of them dearly and hoping that they have a wonderful connection and trust one another to get through class without any hiccups.