I don't even know how to start this post.
Seppel and I had a terrible weekend, that ended up working out okay in the end.
This past weekend my IPO club put on a seminar with Joel Monroe - an amazing trainer.
My training director and friend suggested that I work my new dog Stuck in obedience and work Seppel in protection because she wanted to hear what he had to say about Seppel's work.
When I brought Seppel out for protection on Friday he immediately started making his garbled growling noises. Joel asked me if he could do a hold and bark and if he would be dirty. I said he can be dirty but he can do a hold & bark. I sent him in and he immediately tried to bite the sleeve.
It pretty much just snowballed into a terrible time after that. It was really embarrassing to have a dog who I know is trained and knows what he should be doing, but chose to turn into a stress ball instead. This was in front of everyone else at the seminar and was very frustrating. In the hold & bark it's like he went into barrier frustration and no matter what would not bark. To top it off he seemed to get really stressed out.
I was bawling on the drive home that evening and the mood continued into the next morning. I was dreading working him in obedience and even started to get anxiety. I almost decided I wasn't going to work anyone at all. I took him out and he seemed a bit flat for his toy, just as I was beginning to lose all hope I got some food out and his eyes lit up. I took him out to the field and we did a little bit of heeling - he was great. We did some back-tie play and I was able to show his retrieve and jump. Joel suggested that if we weren't ready for a full IPO1 we should do Tracking and Obedience. It gave me something to think about. We went back out for protection that evening and kept everything light. We didn't worry about getting him to bark, just played around and even did a side transport. It ended really well and I felt my confidence get built back up.
Honestly, I went through so many emotions this weekend. It was absolutely terrifying walking onto the field Saturday afternoon after such a terrible protection session the night before. I had so much anxiety about having to do it and so much fear that my dog would let me down. In some ways it was very empowering (after the fact), that I was able to go back out there even though we had such a bad time the night before.
I'm sure the raging question is - if Seppel isn't very good at IPO and if more often than not I'm having a bad time, why don't I just retire him?
Honestly, I am getting closer to that point. If we start having more bad days than good days, I will stop. It isn't worth it to ruin our relationship because he's not really meant for this sport. However, I guess what helps to keep me going is all of the good days and good moments we have. When I look back at where we started and see where we are going now and feel like it's just within our reach. When I really sit down and realize how much he's taught me and how far we've gotten, I am just not ready to just throw it all away just yet.
There are a lot of things that no amount of training will change for this dog. I get that and I am trying to really put into perspective what I want to nitpick and what I realize I will just have to accept.
Since this past weekend I have set a goal - I want to go for our IPO1 tracking and obedience in the Fall. I am working out a tracking schedule and plan to buckle down and really get him tracking and hitting his articles. For the obedience portion we need to learn how to retrieve over the A frame and do a send out, as well as build duration with his heeling. I think this is an attainable goal. The protection portion will either take care of itself or will be something else we will have to work on. Ideally I want him to earn a full IPO1, but we will just have to wait and see. I feel so thankful to have such a wonderful club to work with and wonderful people to help get me through the bad times and the good times. My IPO club and the experiences that have come with it have been invaluable.