Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our introduction to obedience Part 2

I am currently sitting here trying to block out a unsolicited lecture a woman is giving the man next to me. He is struggling with showing his dog, in rally I think, and she is giving some kind of a lecture about establishing his dominance as a pack leader. Seriously? I think a more effective lecture would be for him to praise the dog for something and to actually look at his dog. And how about not wandering all over the venue treating the dog like a piece of furniture. My pet peeve is people insisting on dragging their dog around where ever they go for their own needs, at the usual detriment to the dog's performance. The dog is doing his own thing 99.9% of the time and then they expect him to magically develop attention and focus once he steps over an invisible line into the ring? Unfortunately this lady is so loud I cant tune her out very well. If I look at my screen she wont be able to see me roll my eyes....

Anyhow...back to the results so far.

Friday was our first day of showing. I experimented with Steel in a couple of different settings. First I set him up where he could see a lot of what was going on. He did not get overly excited by the activity but he watched it ALL closely and with fascination. He never did get to the point where is lost interest for him - it was like a very interesting TV show. I then gave him a period where he was more covered up and couldn't see everything. I worked him for a few minutes after each session and didn't really notice any difference in his level of focus. He was much more focused than he had been Weds and Thurs and gave me some nice heeling in short bursts. Jill pretty much came in the building like she was going to camp. She was content and quiet when kenneled and up and bouncy when she was out. The environment was pretty irrelevant to her, it was still about me and the toy.

After a long day of waiting around, with a few very brief sessions of training,we finally got out chance to show. Jill went first and she was almost perfect. In fact she ended up winning her class! Her heeling could be smoother sometimes but that is a matter of us getting more mileage and learning to work as a team.

Steel was also excellent in the ring. His heeling wasn't bad although not as sharp as usual - we were in the middle ring and there was a lot going on. I guess I was fortunate he could still manage to remember why we were in there! He did great right up until the second to last exercise. He managed to resist the urge to flirt with the figure 8 people, he even managed to keep him feet on the ground during the sit for exam exercise (my biggest concern). He even sat in the middle of the ring and watched me walk all the way around the ring. However when I got close to him on the return the self control was too much for him and he threw himself into my arms. Clearly he was expecting some kind of reward for the amazing amount of restraint he showed letting me get that far away from him. He was like " THAT WAS SO HARD MOM! DID YOU SEE WHAT A GOOD JOB I DID?!"

We then did the matches in the afternoon after the show was over. With Jill I just took her in the ring and did a run through.  After each individual exercise I played with her and threw her ball after releasing her. With Steel I worked more on his heeling and attention in general. He had beautiful heeling in the ring but would start glancing when we got to close to the activity in the other rings. "But mom!! They are throwing dumbbells over there!!"


Saturday was another similar day of showing. Jill was perfect and AGAIN won her class! She actually looks happier IN the ring than she does outside of it. It was tough heeling pattern, we started halfway across the short side of the ring and did an immediate left turn right after the start. Jill is a long dog and starts off fast so that turn felt a little bit awkward to me. We then had a slow almost immediately after a right turn so it took her about a half a stride too long to go to slow. The rest of the exercises were perfect, she even wagged her tail while waiting for the "exercise finished" following the recall.

Steel managed to keep his wits together enough to qualify without any glaring errors. His attention was not great although he stayed in position for the pattern fine. He sniffed the pantleg on one of the "posts" during the figure 8 and also swung wide on the outside turns so he could gawk at the crowd. He DID however hold his exam and he managed not resist greeting me with enthusiasm after the stay (I could tell he wanted to though). Although I giggle about what a goofy dog he is I also had to point out to his breeder that the list of police patrol dogs who can also compete in AKC obedience is a pretty short! He really is a special dog.

For some reason the show went late Saturday and I was too tired to hang around for the matches. I did some brief work with Steel again working on his focus. I let him watch things and then when he gave me attention asked him for a brief period of heeling (about 3-4 paces) and rewarding him. I am still experimenting with this seeing what works the best - he is easily cued or corrected from being distracted (and by corrected I mean a small movement on his collar, not necessarily a collar correction), the problem is that if I don't cue or correct I don't get the attention I want. I don't necessarily mean to make this sound like a huge problem, he is perfectly manageable but his curiosity about what is going around him prevents him from giving me the performance I know he is capable of. What appears to be working the best is trying to be very black and white about when he can look at "Steel TV" and when he cannot.

So the results so far are 2 qualifying runs for Jill with 2 first places and 1 qualifying run for Crazypants. Given the fact that this is all VERY new to them both, I am very pleased with their work. They each got lots of compliments. Jill and I however did get yelled to for being tardy going back into the ring for the results - she was being visited by a whole family of little girls and I didn't notice we were back in. Rottie PR trumps ribbons everyday though!!

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