At training last night Ticket almost tipped me over the edge … pushing my patience to the limit knocking 90% of bar jumps to the ground. She was not focused and she was racing me. I raised my voice (which is not like me) and finished the evening (for Ticket) on a negative … it’s a bit hard to finish a jumping course on a positive when all the bars are on the ground! I’d have to say I was almost tempted to throw in the towel and stick her on the “retired” list … but my stubbornness won’t allow me to let this challenge beat me, plus I've invested far too much in our relationship to let this go now.
Ticket trained nicely on Tuesday night and we actually moved together on course, like one. She was tuned in and I felt we had a real connection … then last night you would have thought she was a different dog. It’s the inconsistent and unpredictable behaviors that make her really hard to work with, sometimes to the point where it leaves you feeling quite frustrated and for me, close to tears.
I know it’s not all my fault … yes, sometimes I am late with a cue or front cross, yes I sometimes don't move quick enough, yes I should work on rear cross skills more … but hey! Give me a break! For goodness sake, I am trying and I AM consistent with my handling commands and it’s not all my responsibility … we are supposed to be a TEAM and that means there’s more than ONE of us!
I do see moments of brilliance and potentional in Ticket and that keeps that dim light glimmering at the end of the tunnel … but I tell you, it’s a bloody long tunnel!
Ronda Carter gave me two options when Ticket performed like this at the end of the seminar weekend a couple of weeks ago … she felt that Ticket was a very capable jumper and that she handles jumping nicely when she wants to, therefore she doesn't need to learn HOW to jump. She offered two options:-
“Band Aid” Handle and stay behind this dog … don’t get too far in front of her so she doesn’t race me and limit her potential abilities & speed and also the development of my own handling skills;
Zero Tolerance. If she knocks a bar then she pays a price … i.e. immediately after the knocked bar (not after the bar after the knocked bar) she is returned to her crate and can watch other dogs being trained and having fun. This, along with a few other things to mark the wrong performance, should teach her that she is not allowed to continue to have fun unless she keeps the bars UP. This could be a long process, as any re-training process is.
What to do? Obviously Option 1 is a bit of a cop-out and Option 2 is the only way to go if you’re serious about competing … so, I guess I’ll be emailing Ronda shortly for suggestions on the Zero Tolerance program!