Today March 9th, Oracle’s The Billionaire and myself got our first qualifying score in Canadian Kennel Club Rally Novice B trial. The trial was part of the big Purina show so the venue was big and busy. My expectations were to just go over there to hang out and train and either do or don’t do the actual trial because I had come to realize that young Forbes needs a lot more proofing of the behaviors under distractions. The day before though we had a a very good practice session with friends: Suzanne and her Aussie boy Lex came to practice with us at Pawsway and Forbes was great. So I was hopeful.
The day started off badly, on my way over to the trial there was a sudden blizzard on the highway and the traffic just stopped. I should have left home much earlier to account for unexpected traffic incidents! Anyways, I was there just in time to walk the course, then I rushed back to my car to get Forbes and then it was almost our turn already. NOT a good way to start! I grabbed his favorite fur tug toy, played with him a little and went into the ring. Forbes was very distracted by the smells on the flooring, which was different from the rest of the room. So by obedience standards the heeling was not really heeling. Most of the actual stations went OK, I used as much hand signaling and prompting as I could, normally I’m not a fan of this, but hey whatever is allowed in the competition! I screwed up our ‘Sit at halt’ station. My footwork getting in there was not precise and Forbes didn’t sit. I backed up and re-did it, then it was fine. BUT I got major deductions for this and afterwards I heard that you are actually allowed to use multiple ‘commands’, so I should’ve kept nagging for the sit. Again not good for training but in competitions who cares. The rest was fine, I just got lost after the last station and wasn’t sure if we had already done the whole thing :-).
Things to practice:
- Go to fun matches and shows to practice under distractions
- Proof behaviors on different kinds of flooring
- Have someone walk behind you when training, Forbes was clearly concerned about the judge moving
- Keep training always FUN and don’t pressurize the dog
The challenge for me with Forbes is his sensitive temperament, I just need to feel a little stressed or frustrated and he shuts down. This has created a lot of challenges with his downs. I cannot ask him to do a down outside home unless I am super-happy and he is 100% into playing tug with me, otherwise he just cannot do it. I’m so happy there was no down today, that saved us.
Compared to my previous rally experiences with Dea I didn’t like Purina as a venue. People were more uptight and a crazy psycho poodle lady hissed at me in the ring when everyone went to collect their ribbons. Her poodle was prancing around right next to us and of course Forbes the intact male tried to sniff the poodle butt. Apparently three times within one whole minute ( I didn’t really notice this at all) as the psycho poodle lady hissed at me between her nail sharp shark teeth. Lesson learned: even when crammed into a space with ten other dogs and no room to move, stay away from everyone in your face or you may get bitten by a poodle shark. I totally understand not wanting interaction with other dogs, with Dea I used to hug the walls in obedience trials but I made sure not to get into the personal bubbles of others as a common courtesy. Anyways, that was my personal rant, my point is, I will not favor these big events anymore, I look forward to St. Catharines’s Kennel Club and Kitchener/Waterloo Kennel Club trials that I have attended before and which give everyone much more room to breathe.
Here is what our sweaty trial looked like. Thanks Suzanne for recording it, and thanks Suzanne and Milena for being there, it was nice to see friendly faces. And congrats to Suzanne and Lex who qualified in Novice A and were second in their whole class!