Scentwork, obedience class, and a play date!

SCENTWORK

Yesterday was a long and hot day, but it was a happy one. We went back to Ladybug’s very favorite scentwork class. It’s too bad it’s only once a month. 😦 I’d skipped our morning walk as we had obedience class and a play date afterward, but this was a mistake. She was so overexcited for class, impatient for her turn, and thrilled when she got something right. I’m actually not sure if she understood that she did something right (meaning something we wanted her to do) versus she thought she was being allowed to play and explore. Either way, it was great!

We pulled up quite a bit late, thanks to some ridiculous rush-hour traffic…on a Sunday morning. What the heck? Instead of being stressed, I took her for a quick stroll while waiting our turn. First up was the car search. I was quite excited as Ladybug nearly exploded with joy at doing it last time.

This time, though, our teacher increased the difficulty. Instead of bits of chicken lunchmeat stuck to the car, Ladybug had to find a small piece of cloth scented with cloves, truffle oil, and one more thing. She was confused at first, decided she wanted to say hello to another dog, and looked at me quizzically. Since I didn’t know where the scent was, either, I was lost. Ellen pointed out that the item was in a wheel, so we went backward. Bingo! Ladybug pounced on the bit of cloth, tore it out of the wheel, and shook it with glee. (Fair enough, as she was allowed to shake and play with the scented sock last time.) I asked if I should give her a treat as a reward, but Ellen said Ladybug had decided to reward herself with a play. 😀 Fair enough!

We went inside the barn and practiced the very beginnings of a “freeze” to how that our dogs had found the scent. Ladybug was given a plant pot with a bit of scent taped inside. She was supposed to put her nose inside the pot, get a click, and get a treat.

Well! Little Miss Ladybug had different ideas. She wanted to pounce on the plant pot, bite it, shake it, throw it, paw at it, and jump after it. While hilarious and endlessly amusing (for both of us), it sort of defeated the purpose of the activity. Ellen suggested holding the plant pot high enough that Ladybug couldn’t do those things, and it worked.

Ladybug went outside for a short walk. When we came back, she sniffed at the cars next to the barn. Ha! She wanted to do another car search! Even though finding squirty cheese (the second round of car searching) didn’t interest her as much as the chicken last time, she still thought it was great. As soon as this hot weather fades, I’ll have to let her do a car search again. 😀

Ladybug was very impatient for her turn each time. I guess that’s an unexpected disadvantage of her becoming comfortable enough not to need an entire side of the barn to herself. Last time, we had several short walks around the property plus some grand games of chase, tug, and follow the flirt pole. That helped to tire her out and (for her) make the waiting time pass by more quickly. Plus, she was so excited about playing with the sock that she had no interest in anything else for quite a while. I did let her play with a toy for a bit, but she desperately wanted to go into the work area.

Her first turn was both confusing and amusing. She had to find a scented article inside a taped-up box, and there were about eight options. I think last month she only had four to six boxes, and one side was open. I think Ellen knew that Ladybug had found it, but I didn’t see the change in her behavior. (Still learning to read her.) After getting praised, she got so prancy that she tried to play with all of the boxes. Oops! Last time, Ellen had told me where the box was. It was much harder this time when I didn’t know, but it was more realistic for scentwork trials. (Ladybug won’t be ready for that for quite a while, but never know. She certainly shows interest.)

She seemed confused when entering the ring both times, but Ellen said not to worry. Last time we expected her to pick up the sock and play with it. This time, she didn’t get the immediate reward of play, and it was harder for her to find the article.

She was still excited, though! She was quite sorry to follow me back to our area (thoughtfully blocked off with gates and blankets to minimize distractions as Ladybug probably would have spent the morning lunging and trying to get into the working area), but we had a good play.

OBEDIENCE CLASS

It was blasted hot by afternoon, and my daft little dog refused to drink water. Why? Dunno. I tell her that God gave her sense, but she chooses not to use it. 😛 She was VERY unhappy with me when I dumped water over her back to cool her down. Look, if she won’t drink the water, what am I supposed to do?

She’s still ready to trade me in for a nicer model. 😛

Since we now have a few months until the silver exam (sigh), I’ve now taken the canny collar off for good. I still keep it in reserve if we have to walk on a narrow path crowded by cars and/or other people, or if Ladybug gets out of hand. But, ideally, I’d like her to be done with the collar permanently. Now that we’ve weaned her off the collar 95% of the time, she absolutely hates when she does have to wear it. She won’t look at me, freezes, and her entire body stiffens with sulky indignation.

I can’t bear for her to fear me. Even if it’s annoyance rather than fear, she clearly hates the canny collar. I’m not above taking it out now and then when her pulling gets completely out of hand (particularly when there are lots of cars), but I’d much rather she learn to settle down on her own.

So…for the first time since the bronze exam, we did our obedience class with just a regular collar. She was great! She flipped out when we practiced relaxed isolation, but the teacher and I discussed ways to help her get used to it gradually. There’s a dog (another poodle!) who won’t give her space, but for the most part she’s handling it well. Or, to be more accurate, the dog’s mum keeps crowding Ladybug. Not really sure why.

PLAYDATE

We visited a water park (here, a nature park near water…not an American water park with slides) with our new flyball friend and her adorable springer spaniel, Lucy. The little dog has a tail that never stops wagging! I’m not sure if it’s a springer spaniel thing or a Lucy thing, but she makes me smile. She also shoved an entire piece of bread into her mouth at once (leftovers from someone’s duck feeding).

Oh, and little miss Ladybug has now decided our friend, Tracy, is a great target for attention. She jumped up asking for fuss. I nearly told her off for jumping (I don’t like that behavior as so many people won’t appreciate it), and then I closed my mouth. After all, we’ve worked long and hard to get Ladybug to trust the flyball team. I guess it means I have to allow some naughty behavior in the process. 😛 Ladybug got treats, fuss, a little flyball mini practice session…and even a little jump into one of the van crates! I stood there open-mouthed. Ladybug has been terrified of crates ever since she was thrown into one as a baby. Her pal Lucy was in the next one, so she decided crates were the fun place to be. Wow!

(Little miss babybug has decided she needs attention. More later!)

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