Class this week was amazing. Gimme is about ready to come out of her false pregnancy - two clues: ignoring the "baby" for long stretches and being more playful. At this point she is more playful than her usual. She's always willing to play at home, but not so much in strange places. So I've been using her extra playfulness to get her used to the idea of playing away from home.
Last Thursday during the day we went to the fort for a walk. During our three mile walk, I got Gimme to indulge me with some personal play (no food or toys) six times. She's always been more reticent to do personal play, so I was experimenting. She has this scootchy little chase game she likes. I was even able to use play to reward short bursts of heeling (6 steps).
I'm discovering Gimme doesn't much like a frontal approach. I wish I'd never followed Ursula's advice about teaching her to give me my space by using body pressure - which I was told would only affect her in public. Afterward Urs admitted it would affect all her interactions with me. We've gotten some of her physical pushiness back, but not all of it.
The other thing I found was, she is very happy to be pushed away with my left hand, but not my right. I don't know if she's worried about my right hand (the one I've had trouble with this summer) or if I was guarding it and my posture was different. So I'll have to keep an eye on my own posture and whether I'm more frontal next time.
On Thursday for agility there wasn't anything really special about the agility itself. What was special was our tug play. I brought her Skinneez Squirrel and we tugged four times in the first session and once in the second. Last class I started some tugging and concluded the reason Gimme wasn't willing to play more was because she always lost the toy at the end. So I planned to let her win by dropping my end and playing chase and keep-away. I tried it several times and Gimme would bounce away once and then wait for me to take up my end and tug some more.
So now I have some more variables to try. I want to try letting her pull me around the floor while we tug - which I hope will feel more like winning to her. And I think I'll try some personal play for a few moments after her "release", so it won't be such an abrupt end when she gives up the toy. I also want to read all my notes from the Denise Fenzi seminar on personal and toy play to see if there are other options I'm forgetting.
In any case, she was tugging so much and so ferociously, and everyone was suitably impressed. They'd never seen this side of her and so it was a lot of fun to see their stunned looks. I do have to say I see a definite down-side to toy play - it is a lot more work. I got a much harder workout.
This weekend we also had a four-hour workshop on advanced sends. It was mostly about sends to the backside of the jump and the options you can use with it, as well as sight lines for movement and how to teach the dog to understand the cuing. As usual Blynn did a great job teaching it and has a nicely incremented approach using back-chaining to teach the dogs. And, also as usual, she is fabulous about explaining stuff until everyone understands.
It was really advanced stuff and we didn't do as well as we usually do. There were a couple of incidents, due to other handlers, so she spent the day always concerned about the other dogs. It was enough of a distraction, so to keep her focus I used the PB go toob for most exercises.
Also I don't think Gimme fully understood the introduction to the back side send (I have always handled it in class), so she wasn't really ready for the advanced exercises. To be honest most of the dogs were in the same boat, but most of them didn't have a history of doing it with handling to overcome.
Gimme was tired all the way home, but then brought me all her toys, one-by-one throughout the evening. Now I've promised her some training and play time, so I better get to it...