This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5 am for our second agility match, in Elk Grove. There was a jumpers course set up outside on grass, and a standard NADAC course set up in a barn with dirt flooring.
Chimera was of course distracted by the dogs, and did some demand barking, but I'm still so happy at the change in his reactivity after taking the L-theanine and lactium for a few weeks now.
We were in the jumpers course three times. I went in with food (boiled chicken) because it seemed like Cai was too sniffy and distracted to play. The first time, this worked fine. I kept his leash on and we did some heel work for treats. The second time he didn't take food, and I tried using sniffing as a reward. Unfortunately, by his third turn he was so overstimulated that he barely picked his head up from the grass and I carried him out before our 90 seconds were even up. I was bummed out but decided to go ahead and do our two turns in the standard ring - at the very least it was an opportunity to practice leash walking in a very distracting environment, and I'd paid for it long ago.
Cai was still turning down treats, but I tried giving him a rubdown and scratching above his tail. He liked that. I tried doing some playful pushing on him and running, and he perked up more. Then I leaned forward and blew into his face, and he started barking excitedly! That's something that I do at home when we're playing. I don't remember what gave me the idea to blow on him in the first place, but it instantly revs him way up. I usually use it as a self-control exercise. I don't want to use it so much during stressful/distracting situations that it loses its effect, but clearly it's a secret weapon I can pull out from time to time.
During our final 90 second turn, I was able to take Cai's leash off and have him do one or two jumps, and I used playful bouncing and pushing and blowing in his face as a game, and he was SO happy.
During our weekly agility class, food has always seemed to trump play. Color me surprised.