After reviewing my show videos, I was not happy with how Beckett behaved between exercises especially when I thought I had been working on transitions and focus. I have spent a lot of time working on having Beckett not think that the judge was a friend to go and meet and greet and to not feel like he had to go visit all the new people that he certainly seemed to think just came to see and visit him
My inspiration for teamwork, showing and training in obedience has been Petra Ford as well as many virtual lessons with Laura Romanik who has provided invaluable feedback on my obedience training and showing videos. I have taken many of Petra’s online classes and have gotten feedback and help from working with Petra one on one. She has been such an inspiration to help model in the ring teamwork and precision. Her philosophy around making obedience fun and helping the dog believe that obedience is just a series of tricks has been so helpful in guiding how I train. Her new information on why dogs fail in the ring due to all the pressures they feel, has been invaluable in setting up exercises, proofing and fun work for Beckett.
This show was going to be feedback on where we are at. How well have I done with helping Beckett be happy with obedience, focused in the ring, less distracted and not failing an exercise possibly due to pressure? I did feel like so much of the training helped all of this but in watching the video all I could think was “Beckett had no manners in the show ring.” He was focused and did well in the exercises but when the work was complete he did not stay connected with me and in Open became obsessed with the dumbbell in the chair and when would he be able to retrieve it. His video is included to show this more clearly.
What were some of the new challenges with the post-COVID ring set up that we were not prepared for and did not train for?
- When we come into the ring we take off the leash and go and put it on a chair or where designated.
- We bring in our dumbbell for Open classes and place it outside, the ring. For this show it was in a chair outside the ring and the dumbbell was visible which it had never been before. In the past the DB has been brought out by the ring steward when the retrieve exercise began; it was not visibly showing while waiting for the exercise.
- When we do the Open exercises retrieve on the flat and high jump we go and get our dumbbell; in the past it was given to us by the ring steward.
- When we finish the retrieve exercises we must go and put it back on the visible area. At this show it is sitting on a chair outside the ring where the dog had to heel by and line up for the drop on recall.
- The ring setup is tighter than previously since now there are figure 8 cones in the ring.
- The open exit ring gate was an invitation for Beckett to think it was time for leaving the ring for his jackpot for good work.
What I realized was that Beckett was not being bad but he was acting exactly how I let him act in most of our training sessions. I had not asked for discipline from him to sit and wait while I placed his dumbbell when we came into the ring or got his dumbbell for the retrieves; to stay at my side when we transitioned between exercises and if he did. not to let him know he was not correct and to go back and not move forward until we were together; or to sit and wait as I was setting up the ring for another exercise such as scent articles or gloves in utility work. Yes, I knew a lot of this but did not insist as he would jump for the dumbbell as we moved from one retrieve to another or thought that the new green grass would be good to graze on.
We have a three day obedience show in a week in Nevada. My training will not only support what I have been doing for pressure in the ring, fronts and finishes, heel work focus and position, the challenges of command discrimination, go outs and signals but will not include, “MANNERS IN THE RING”.
Over the last few days I have introduced a few new things into our training:
- Sit and wait when we come into the ring while I go and hang up your leash outside or the ring;
- Sit and wait while I go and put your dumbbell in a chair outside the ring;
- Transitions between retrieves (on the flat and over the high jump) and perhaps not have the dumbbell be visible to him as we move from one place to another;
- Sit and wait if I have leave his side for anything like setting up the ring;
- No wandering off to graze on new green grass and investigate treats that might have been dropped by other dogs training;
- He must walk at my side as we go and get the dumbbell; if he tries to forge ahead I mark with an “uh, uh” this and retreat a few steps back until he is at my side.
- We will heel past the dumbbell in the chair often; Walk from one part of the ring to where the DB is sitting outside of the ring in the chair.
- More work to help understanding of the command discrimination and how it differs from the utility signals:
- STAND > DOWN > SIT
- STAND > SIT> DOWN
- Signals from heeling immediately followed by command discrimination
- Praise and reward for staying at my side as we move between exercises
- End of work jackpot is no longer to be outside of the ring on a chair but after the stay and get your leash, I bring him his jackpot helping him to see that he does not leave the ring for the big reward.
This week we have been working on the above changes in our training: when in the obedience ring we are working as a happy and confident team. No barking, no roaming around as our goal is to have communication and teamwork and not be distracted by the environment. Beckett has done surprisingly well doing what I have asked. This tells me that he did not know what I wanted since I never communicated or enforced this. REMEMBERING, THERE ARE NO BAD DOGS, ONLY BAD TRAINERS.
Note: Petra won the 2020 National Obedience Championship. Watching Petra and her dogs is truly perfection in motion. To see some of her gorgeous runs visit her youtube channel. Her connection with her dogs and the joy they experience together is such an inspiration that has helped focus my training. She has helped me visualize the importance of stay connected with my dog from the moment I come into the ring and to when I leave.