In my previous post about Gracie - I talked about how she had nervous issues at her last trial. Since then Mom has just let her be a dog - observing her in various situations, and watching what she likes, doesn't like, what motivates her, de-motivates her, makes her nervous, calm, stimulated, etc.
Well last night Gracie was scheduled for practice. Mom wasn't quite sure they were both ready to -jump into the fire. But Mom came up with a plan. She took to practice nearly every toy Gracie likes, and all different kinds of treats - and a secret weapon, an empty little zip lock baggie.
Wouldn't you know Gracie and Mom were set to run a Grand Prix course in practice - the same one I ran on Saturday at the seminar, created by USDAA judge Mike Wagner. At least Mom knew the course real well, but would Gracie be able to handle it?
Mom got the baggie ready, set up Gracie at the start, and used the crinkly sound to lure Gracie through - yes, you guessed it - the ENTIRE course! She only started to run off once, and Mom got her right back. Huffing and puffing, Mom and Gracie finished the course, and probably would have Q'd if it would have been competition.
It was so great to see Gracie do what we all know she can do - awesome running dog walks, terrific a-frames, and amazing weaves - and one of the fastest downs on the table we've seen. What a good girl!
Gracie is a real smart little girl - and we think that she likes more difficult courses, that present many more challenges for her and handling skills for Mom. But that makes for a real challenge in competition - those starters course are SO open; with not much handling at all - makes for many more ops for her to get distracted.
We know she isn't nearly over her 'competition' nerves - the environment is so much more stimulating than practice. There is still much work to be done. So we're gonna get her in some show 'n goes; and continue to take her to my competitions and work with her outside the rings. And we're going to keep utilizing the - secret weapon! All with the hopes that she feels much more confident doing agility, in different environments.