I have been having a tremendous amount of frustration with her in agility lately. I know that she has the spunk and heart to be a good agility dog, but you can't force a dog to do agility. Many nights I came home from class with the thought that maybe she just isn't cut out do it. Maybe I should quit making her do agility. But I know she can do it and I know she has fun doing it - you can see it in her face when she is running full out on course.
I just need to change what I am doing. I have created a dog that thinks she needs to have a reward all the time. If she doesn't get that reward, she doesn't see the point of playing. So I have been changing things up in our training.
First, I have stopped having food rewards on my person. Instead, I hide stashes of food around the field, and we run to the food for her reward. This way she never knows where the food is coming from or when. I also make sure I have a good variety of treats -some plain ones like cheese and some high value ones like stinky tuna.
Second, I have stopped keeping her in her crate so much. Maggie does not like to be in her crate. She is very social and is happiest when she is out with everyone else. When she is in her crate she just mopes. So, how motivating is it for her when after a good run she gets stuffed back in her crate, isolated from everyone? Not very.
Third, I need to quit comparing her to other dogs - to both the other dogs in our class and more importantly to Bosley. I need to remember that each dog is different and everyone comes to class with their own set of issues and goals.
So far what I have been doing seems to be working. Our last 2 agility classes have been the best classes we have had in a long time. I am also learning when to quit training her and give her a break. Last night, everyone in our group wanted to work on distance exercises. I knew that this would frustate both me and Maggie, and since she had been doing so well all night, I didn't want to end on a bad note. So we skipped that and did a bit of weaving instead.
I hope I am on the right track with her. I don't want to give up on her - she deserves so much more than that.