Bi, the wild child
Remember when I said that if Bu was a person, she would have been a mathematician. She just likes things to be clear and always the same and predictable and precise. And Le would be an actress. And I guess To would have been the best therapist ever - she is just sooo good in both listening and making you feel better with a big hug 🙂 She even successfully tamed my crazy puppy and finally got to adopt her! 🙂
And Bi, well, Bi would be in prison. Actually, she would be a returning prisoner as nothing really can get her off her ways... - rewarding or not rewarding, redoing or giving her a timeout or even ending a session, especially if it means watching other dogs run... - nothing really gets to her as she finds everything really fun. So training her has been pretty tricky, especially as herding quirks really creeped up on us and seem to be her automatic, beyond the brain/training, response to some cues.
She started this season really well - her bar problem got much better + I switched from toys to food and that helped her keep her head together better. But - it didn't last long... Eventually, she realized it's still the same thing even if I use food - and started with her herding behaviors again... - Things like not taking a jump straight ahead, but circling it and stopping on the other side to watch me, not coming to hand when called to right hand (left hand of course is no problem...), but doing a big circle around obstacles first etc. - things we've been dealing with her whole life, but it actually got worse rather as better in last two years. Anything new I try (like new come to hand cue, special threadle cue, food instead of a toy etc.) works magically at first... - and then not at all anymore. And I have to admit that after 9 years of trying, I'm running out of ideas on what else I can try...
So we got to a point when running her is just not fun anymore. She has great skills and can be brilliant on some courses - and on some parts of every course - what only makes it even more frustrating as already on a course seeing, I know which parts we won't be able to do because they will trigger her herding response. And while I normally see any problem as just another challenge and don't get frustrated about problems at all - I am getting frustrated about this particular problem at this point... To the point that trialing her is just not as fun as it should be. So I decided to give her a little break from trialing and only do things that don't make us frustrated. That also means I will give her EO spot to the next one in line and only run with Le and To afterall.
You can see beginnings of our problem at 6:12 of this video. This is her run in finals of EO 2012 - that she would have won easily - but had to do a little circle at one point... She was actually still clean with that circle, but it cost us lots of time obviously, so good old Bu won it instead 🙂
It was still funny at that point - but not so much anymore, so I think we both need a little break to gather enough power to fight with herding demons for next 9 years again then 🙂
I can totally understand you. I thought I would never lose hope or never ever get desperate or give up on any of my dogs… But training MikMik was like climbing a skyscraper and then suddenly just when you get on top you fall back down so hard that it almost kills you. And then climbing back up and falling back down, that climbing seems to last forever but the downfall is so quick you can’t even understand what happened. Until I got to the point when it wasn’t fun anymore and I wanted to quit agility with her… Several times. But I couldn’t as it just feels so good whenever we reach the top of that skyscraper. And when she does want to run she can be brilliant. Some dogs are really special but I am thankful for her, she is so special to me, afterall agility is just a game and there are always other games to play.
Yeah, it’s really frustrating… -- even more so as the ups are sooo good!!! I think a break can sometimes be a really good idea! MikMik is still so young that I have no doubts her confidence will still grow and there will be less&less downs!
I couldn’t relate more Nina… <3
Thank you for sharing!
Oh, Silvia…I remember the EO run WELL. At the time I thought its lucky that Bi did not take any obstacles but putting it in the context of the rest I understand why she didn’t…I think…
Do you think it’s stress/overstimulation type of neuronal short-circuit? And are you going to try herding with her? it helps in some situations for Weims to go hunting -- makes them way relaxed and ready for other things. BC are different yes, but maybe this may work?
Yes, I think it’s over-stimulation… It’s always right hand and that’s the hand I hold the toy in, so I think anticipation makes it worse. I tried using static toys only and food only and always in a bowl, not in hand -- but it still came back though… The trials aren’t worse as trainings -- it’s all the same for her (not a dog of details).
I like the herding idea -- I agree that might help yes. It’s a bit tricky though as there aren’t many herding options around here and when I did try she never noticed the sheep. Only looked at me and had no idea there are some animals there. She only herds some particular (barky) dogs -- and obstacles…
If you can’t herd animals you could try Trieball with her to see if that gives her an outlet. That way the herding behaviour can be put on cue and hopefully separated out from agility behaviours.
And just to add, I know this frustration well. My first agility dog Mu has been retired from competition. He had his moments of brilliance but I could never repeat anything with him as he would decide to get really creative and just throw random stuff out (shaping was always pretty easy with him but locking down the behaviour was something different). I never really figured out if he was actually reading my cues or just was really good at guessing what’s next. And since I can’t repeat anything with him I could never really proof properly. And like Bu holding off on a reward never really got the point across. He had reactivity issues on top of all of that and once I pulled him from competition I found that his reactivity was much better, so clearly going to trials was that bit too much for him to handle even though he didn’t seem obviously stressed (not that I think Bu has any reactivity issues, but dogs react to stress in many, MANY different ways). I have since switched to disc dog with him and he is way happier and it’s way less stressful. We play agility at home with no real goals, just to exercise his overactive little brain, and it’s much more fun. Fortunately, I still have Raafi to run agility with and he is really excelling, so I don’t feel too bad about pulling Mu. Sometimes it’s ok to walk away!
Thank you for sharing! She sure is brilliant in so many ways, I can understand it must be SO frustrating to have something like this messing it up on the agilityfield… Though I haven’t had this problem, I can totally relate to the feeling of frustration, knowing what skills the dog has, but then there is something else that prevents the dog from being the best he/she can be… For us it was the trial environment, for you it’s the herding. Though our skills are on a totally different level than yours, I would think our feelings are somewhat the same 🙂
Agility should be a fun game, so enjoy your break 🙂 You sure deserve one after working so hard to deal with this challenge for so long! 🙂 I guess it will be really nice to let go of the frustration and just enjoy running Le and To at the EO 🙂 Best of luck!
Yeah, just did one small trial with just Le and To and it sure was relaxing! 🙂
Great! Perfect preparation for EO!
I will cheer for you in front of my computer, and REALLY look forward to watch Wii vs Le, not sure which one I will cheer for then, though, ha ha 😀
Have lots of fun!! 😀
Well, good for you for releasing yourself of the frustration! Bi seems like the kind of dog to not think anything of it and since I have no doubt her life is really awesome no matter what. I don’t see time off from agility bothering her too much? Bim sure loves agility, but I think if I just took him swimming or played frisbee or went hiking every day he woulnd’t really miss agility. So long as he got to do something he would be happy!
Hard to believe she is 9!!!!????
Yeah, I think she will be happy just watching agility 🙂 And we’ll still do some DWs and weaves for fun.
I just went back and read this post. It made me sad, yet also a little encouraged that the best in the world can relate a little to my similar struggle. Although I have never had the success you’be experienced even on the local level, nor am I anywhere near the trainer or handler you are. My almost 8 year old border collie and I have been through so many setbacks both in and out of the ring. Although I love all of my dogs for their unique personalities and gifts, Andi, my bc, is truly my best friend which made me more determined than ever to find a way to “train through” every issue. Every time it felt like we were turning a corner and winning the battle, something new would come up -- sometimes they were physical issues, other times training issues, but for a while now it hasn’t been fun anymore but I was heartbroken and did not want to “give up” on her. I thought about quitting agility totally because if I couldn’t compete with Andi, I didn’t want to do it at all! Sounds a little dramatic, but I guess I sort of am. Anyway, I finally realized that it was only hurting our relationship to keep pushing through something that made us both so frustrated. So, for the first time in over 7 years I got a puppy. That’s Izzy and that’s how we ended up in your class bc I REALLY want to get it right this time! Meanwhile, Andi and I have been freed up to new adventures and finding new things we love! She has become my dock diving, Flyball, disc, coursing dog and still my best friend! We couldn’t be happier, I even think she likes have a “kid sister” to boss around! Thanks for sharing this!!! Congrats again on your awesome EO!!!
Yeah, I don’t give up easily… Afterall, I started agility with a Samoyed! 🙂 But it was different there -- he presented me with challenges I needed to work through. It took years and lots of patience, but I could see the trend, the progress, the options. With Bi, I feel there is just a wall. That there is no training that could break this triggered response… I’m sure she would love dock diving or flyball though, too bad we don’t have those options! She loves frisbees though, but I can’t throw, so it’s safer we stay away from it 🙂
Here is a link to the competitors are the recent World Trial. No one got in from Slovenia, but their is a group of 9 dogs from Switzerland. Perhaps you could get together with one of them to show Bi what it is OK to herd. https://www.worldsheepdogtrials.org/competing-nations/
Bi ignores sheep completely, she only looks at me. She would need LOTS of time to notice sheep I think and Switzerland is a bit too far to go there regularly just to get her notice sheep!
Wow. I very much understand this issue. I have recently decided to (most likely- just on “a break” for now) retire one of my dogs for this issue. I have video of him doing the same thing you posted in the video several times- sometimes not causing faults, and sometimes happening up to 4 times on course and causing eliminations from too many refusals. My first BC had this issue, but we were able to work through it by the time he turned 5, but then he had a seizure at a competition, so he retired at age 8, so not sure if the behavior would have ever returned. I always wondered if it was something I was doing wrong, but my other BCs never had this issue aside from these two. My first one got better over time, and the other just got worse over time. It’s a tough one for sure, and so instinctive so some dogs. Really hard to “train out of them…”
Yes, I had a bit of that with Bu as well, but it was possible to avoid it with some training and handling tricks. Not so with Bi… And I never had anything like this with To -- super grateful for that!!! 🙂 Bi rarely did it 4 times on a course, but she would sometimes go under jumps or DW on her circling way and got eliminated for that 🙂 -- But even when we got no faults for it, it was simply no fun for me.