Monday, December 19, 2011

Introduction to Obedience Competition Part Three

And finally the Sunday results.....

Sunday I did some more experimenting with Steel. Again he is manageable and other than breaking his stay on Friday everything has been solid. However I am still working on bringing out the flashy animated and attentive heeling I know that he is capable of doing. This time I brought him into the building in the morning, let him look around and then put him away for a bit. We were showing earlier so I had about a two plus hour wait.

About an hour before our class started I did some training in a moderately busy area outside (inside would have been better but I didn't really want to push the limits of the "no intensive training at the show" rule!). I asked him for attention (I have a cue word for this) and then did a short sequence of heeling. However I was pretty firm about the glancing and when I lost attention I would say "no" in a neutral tone and with my left hand move his head back into position. Once I got the duration I wanted I would then treat and release him and allow him a few seconds to look at the world (cue word for that as well). What I was trying to do was to make it very black and white when he could and could not break attention on me but I wanted to do it in such a way that I did not diminish his animation and enthusiasm.  I would rather not do this at all than create a "robot" dog or one who looks worried about making a mistake.  This seemed to work pretty well, at first all I got was attention but then his animation and enthusiasm improved as we worked.

I admit that I did not do as much Sunday with Jill, because she had been so good the previous two days. This was a bit of an error on my part, even though she had worked very well she is still very green and needs more foundation work. Which I knew. I had done very little work on teaching her to sit automatically when I stopped during heeling. This is because her heeling training is still progressing and I wanted to get impulsion and drive for the heeling and then add the sit. I felt, with her eagerness to please, that she would be anticipating the sit and it would inhibit her heeling. So for the sake of the trial, during the warmups I did a bunch of automatic sits for food right before going into the ring. Except for Sunday, when I forgot!. She came to a perfect stop both during her heeling pattern and during the figure 8 and looked at me with her usual adoring expression. Qualifying score but no placement for her!

Then it was Steel's turn. This time I didn't do much with him prior to going into the ring. Just a very brief, treat heavy, warmup near his crate and we went straight in. There was an Open class next to mine and they were all filing by for their sits and downs.  Yikes. Perfect "Steel TV". I got him in position for the heeling pattern and gave him his attention cue word and he snapped to attention. Holy crap! He did the heeling pattern almost perfectly. I lost him a bit on the figure 8 and then the rest of the exercises were excellent. He not only qualified but also managed to squeeze out a fourth place in a pretty competitive class.

Overall, taking into account the newness of it all and where we are in our training for this venue, I was pleased with the performance of each dog. I have a long list of what we will work on if we progress further but I met or exceeded all of my goals for the weekend.

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