Haven't blogged in a while, but things have been going pretty great. We've had two trials so far this year (one on February 2 and one on March 2), both at an awesome indoor venue that we'd never been to before. I was SO pleased with Mika and Wall-e's performances at both trials!
Mika was so relaxed at these trials (well, compared to her usual self); she didn't show any signs of reactivity except for a growl at the February trial. It was great to see. And in the ring she had a really nice balance of control and drive! And Wall-e amazed me with how he was running; he was running like a Masters dog, with tons of skills in his toolbox. It's definitely all coming together for him!
One thing I have to work on with Mika is start-line stays. She stays wonderfully, but it's beginning to stress her a bit. She used to stress at the start-line years ago, back in 2008, which is when I ceased to start-line stays and began starting with her; then I re-introduced start-line stays in 2009 when her speed increased and I needed that head start on some courses. She didn't have a problem with stress when I re-introduced the stays then. I still use a mixture of both stays and no-stays at the start now.
At our last trial, I led out two jumps in our first run (Steeplechase). In our second run (Masters Jumpers), she entered the ring a tad bit more stressed then her last run because she had to wait for a bit longer for her run, and there were other dogs milling around (including a lab, one of her greatest triggers). Anyway, at the beginning of our second run, I told her to sit, resting my hand gently on her back as she did so, to give her a bit of comfort (because she still had a bit of stress). But when I told her to "Wait" and I started to lead out, she got up and shook her entire body (a sign of stress, and one of her methods that she used to try to relax herself). I said, "You're okay! You don't want to stay? All right," and I started with her instead. The rest of our run went uneventfully (we Q'd), but it was a bit slower than her usual, which was likely because of our stressy start. So yeah, we're going to have to work on start-line stays, but I do need them on some of our runs. Just increasing the value of stays, and leading out, will do the trick, I think. We've been working on them at meals, which are high-value reinforcements for Mika (and Wall-e!). We'll also work on them whenever we rent the agility arena next (we've been renting places once a week for the past couple of months), and at future fun matches throughout the year.
Anyway, that's all for now! Hope everyone is doing well! :)
P.S. One more note...SPRING IS COMING!! It's starting to get warmer! :D