Sunday, December 13, 2009

Worried Wall-e

We went to a fun match on Saturday. Wall-e was super happy at first, bouncing around inside the arena as we waited around. Then the snow slid off the roof of the arena (pictured above), making a big noise. Wall-e's heard that noise before when we trained at this arena last year, so although he skittered away, he came back to me to bop my hand with his nose and took the reward I offered. But then right after, the snow slid off again. And then again. Wall-e must have thought the sky was falling or something. He was in complete panic, TERRIFIED, and started shaking.

After that, I left the arena and went back to the car to let him recover. After a few minutes, I headed outside and was going to shape him to walk over to the arena, but I wasn't planning on actually going inside in case the snow fell off again. Going back and forth from the car to the arena, I shaped him to go to the front door of the arena, relieving the pressure each time by letting him go back to the car.

Then the snow slid off the arena again, just when we happened to be close by. Wall-e freaked out, just like before. I let him go in the car again.

But when I tried getting him out for more shaping later on, he wouldn't even take a step closer to the arena. He was scared to death...I've never, ever seen him like that before.

Poor guy. He didn't even want to say hi to the other dogs, which is so unlike him. He just lay in the car for almost the entire fun match. As much as I felt sorry for him, I had to stay cheerful around him since he's so sensitive to the tone of my voice.

Major deja vu how this is almost EXACTLY what happened with Mika at a fun match at this same venue, two and a half years ago. (Not that I don't like the venue -- I do!) Except with Mika it was the bang of the teeter, and the problem had started a week before when we went to practice for the fun match. Still, it's uncanny how alike the situations are.

Like Wall-e, Mika didn't even want to go near the arena. I ended up carrying her in. I made a mistake by technically forcing her to go inside when she didn't feel comfortable...I definitely didn't want to do that with Wall-e. At least I've been through this kind of thing before, so I know what to do now with Wall-e.

We haven't done any agility since the fun match because it's our break from agility for a couple weeks that I mentioned last Wednesday. I'm hoping that Wall-e hasn't generalized the bad experience at the fun match to agility in general. With Mika, years ago, she didn't even want to go over a jump at home after her bad experience. But then again, Mika generalizes almost everything, and Wall-e isn't too good at generalizing. I guess that's a good thing in this case!

It probably won't end up to be a big problem (-knock on wood-) since we don't go to any other venues that are dome arenas, other than this one. I feel bad that Wall-e was so terrified, though!

(I'll talk about Mika's runs in a later post. She had a blast though and gave me some good laughs!)


  1. OH dear poor Wall-e, it is so hard especially when you work hard and try to make sure your dog gets good experiences and then something so out of your control happens. Hopefully this will just be a little bump.

  2. Sounds like what happened to Mayer with the loudspeaker. If it happened once, I think he'd of recovered then and was the second time that set him over the edge. He was better at his next show, though will need confidence building for awhile. A trainer friend of mine sent me a note with an attention game to relieve pressure when things like this happen. I'll forward you her note, it might be helpful in this situation...

    Good luck and Merry Christmas!


  3. Poor Wall-e! He did look stressed in the photo. I doubt that he will have a long-lasting reaction though. It sounds like you did a great job of dealing with his worries. He'll realize he can count on you in stressful situations and he'll be fine! Sorry he missed out on the fun match and I'll look forward to hearing about Mika!

  4. Thanks everyone, I'll let you know how he is at the next fun match in January! (I won't be running him though, only Mika.)


  5. Aw, poor little guy -- I hadn't realized the full extent of what happened :-(((

    I have a hunch though that he won't let this get in the way of his love of agility. He loves it too much and you'll do a great job of bringing him back, especially after Mika's experience with The Teeter.

  6. Oh yeah the other thing I was going to say is it should help a lot that he already had a strong history of very positive experiences there.