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Posts Tagged ‘competition obedience’

I learned a lesson today: Be at Obedience matches and trials much, much earlier than I think I have to.

You’d think that after the nightmares I’ve had about dog shows, I would already have internalized this lesson.

But apparently not.

This morning I was scheduled to run in an Obedience fun match put on by the Sherwood Dog Training Club. I try to go to as many matches as I can — they are the closest thing to a real Obedience trial you can get. But because they’re fun matches, and not real trials, there’s all sorts of things you can do in the ring. You can re-do exercises, correct your dog, give treats, play with toys, whatever you need to do to help your dog and yourself learn all the right moves and behaviors.

For this match, I thought I’d given myself a 1/2 hour buffer. I counted the number of people scheduled to run ahead of me in the Novice class, multiplied by 6 minutes per run, added that to the start time, and planned to be there 30 minutes earlier than the resulting time.

But reality interfered. As if often does.

I’d forgotten my entry fee money, and had to stop at a cash machine. That added 10 minutes to my travel time, leaving me with being there just 20 minutes ahead. And then, it turned out that about 4 people who were supposed to run before me were missing, and that right there equals about 24 minutes, putting me now 4 minutes behind. And then, some of the people ahead of me were faster than expected, adding probably another 3 or 4 minutes to the time hole.

Being kind and resourceful people, instead of eliminating me from the run order, some fellow club members filled in ahead of me. And when I walked in the door, I discovered that the person ahead of me was already almost through her run.

That gave me only about 1.5 minutes to get my dog out of the car, persuade him to pee outside, and be inside at the ring gate. Gagh!

I’m usually a very responsible, on-time type of person, so this is completely embarrassing. I hope it’s sufficiently embarrassing that I won’t do this again. Reality can bite in just these same ways at real trials, too.

I guess I can just be glad that I had an opportunity to learn this at a fun match, rather that at a real (and much more expensive and less forgiving) Obedience trial.

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I know you will be kind when you watch the video below of our 3rd Novice Obedience fun match. Cooper and I are both beginners at this. Neither of us has done competition obedience before. And really, what you see below is such an amazing improvement over our first fun match.

I have a lot to work on. I’ve entered Cooper in our local Irish Water Spaniel specialty (in a month), and I’d like use to give at least a creditable performance. I am trying to hope for it, yet not count on it, while doing my best to work for it.

Right now, what I see is that I need to keep Cooper’s attention when we are doing any sort of turn. In the fun match, an invisible something on the floor captured his attention, and then there were people to look at (including the photographer — Cooper does love getting his picture taken).

Prior to this, I’ve been using toys or treats to lure him around the corners. In this fun match, I moved to just using my hands (with liberal treats in between).

But soon we’ll need to move away from that hands and treats. I’m just not sure how. I’ve gotten reasonably good at teaching him static behaviors like Sit and Stay, but the moving behaviors like Heel are much tougher. I know I’ve asked my obedience instructor about this several times, and I’ll ask again this evening.

Sometimes I finally “hear” an answer after it’s been given to me several time. Maybe this evening I’ll hear and understand her answer to this training problem.

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