Apologies again to any followers I might actually have- my life's super busy with work, music, and dog stuff so I try to post when I can.
Last Saturday Delilah and I drove 3 hours to Raymond, NH for a barn hunt trial. I honestly had no idea how'd she do. She has a very high prey drive but she also obsesses over clumps of hair, dust, spots on the ground, and light/shadows. I wasn't sure if she'd look for the rat or just fixate on those stupid little things and ignore everything else like she does in agility. We couldn't make it to the practice in NH on Friday night. I brought her to the pet store on Friday to show her some rats and get her excited but of course that was the day all of the animals were out of stock. So we just had to wing it.
She was so confused at first- we were sitting at the debriefing before the first trial and she was just staring at me because she didn't know what was going on. She actually did okay with reactivity- unless people came over to talk to me or she heard other dogs barking, she was pretty well behaved. And there were actually a lot of reactive dogs there so at least she wasn't the only one!
The first trial was her instinct test. I was holding her in the starting box and let her go, and I saw she was about to run over to start chasing the clumps of hair on the ground so I yelled, "Delilah, let's go!" and started running towards the rat tubes. She ran after me and sniffed the first tube, ran to the second and got very interested. I called "rat" and we were right! She got the fastest time out of the small dogs, a ribbon, and her RATI title. I really had no idea how she'd do and was so happy that she found the rat instead of chasing hair/dust/shadows.
Unfortunately, the second trial we did was the Novice trial, and she didn't do as well. I released her from the start box and she went right to the fence and started chasing hair. I did EVERYTHING- I called her, yelled, clapped, ran around, looked like an idiot lol. She completely ignored everything I did- I couldn't touch her or we'd be DQ'd. I had been so hopeful and my dreams died right there. I was really frustrated and embarrassed. I watched her chase dust for two minutes until our time was up.
The last trial, I thought she'd do the same thing again but I figured I already paid for it and drove 3 hours to get there so we might as well try again. Nope, she did the same thing. I was able to call her away once and I got hopeful again because she ran towards me through the tunnel (in novice the dog has to do three things: go under a tunnel, jump on a hay bale, and find the rat). But then she ran right back to the fence and started chasing... things... again.
I think the judge noticed that I was disappointed and told me that once she "gets it" she's going to be amazing. It's the same thing with agility though- she would be wonderful if she didn't fixate on the hair/spots/shadows on the ground and ignore everything else.
Now I've definitely made up my mind to call a vet. behaviorist before continuing with agility or barn hunt though. If my terrier won't even go after a rat because she's fixating on these stupid little things, then there's definitely something wrong with her. I really hope we can figure this out because I got a dog to do things with- and if I can't train her because she fixates and can't take her places because she's reactive- well, I'm not going to get rid of her or anything but I didn't get a dog to leave at home all the time. So I don't know, we have stuff to figure out. It's just hard being online and in real life seeing everyone doing amazing things with their dogs while my dog is broken, after waiting so long to get one of my own.
Otherwise, it actually was a lot of fun and everyone was really nice. I hope we're able to figure out her issues and do this more in the future, maybe even start a VT team or club!
On the bright side, here she is with her ribbon! She's super cute, she's got that going for her.