So I am a bit behind on my blogging, so I will do a quick post about our obedience trial last weekend. I can pretty much sum it up in one word . . "Yikes!".
Friday's run started out OK - we lost 5 marks on heeling for a bit a lagging and a lot of sniffing the posts on the figure 8. Drop on Recall was great as was the Retrieve on Flat. Then was the Retrieve Over High. I threw the dumbbell, and sent Bosley out. He took the jump, went straight to his dumbbell and bent to pick it up. Right before he grabbed it, his nose came up and he was doing some serious air scenting. He caught the smell of something. I was hoping he would be a good boy and just get his dumbbell, but no, he figured out where the smell was coming from. Someone had a big bag of rollover on their crate just on the other side of the ring, and Bosley jumped the ring gates to go get it. Bad Boy. Good thing the owner of the treats saw what was happening and she grabbed them before Bosley could. Bosley then ran to our setup to see if he could get any of his own treats, but I always keep them zipped up in our training bag. By this time I was calling him and at least he was good enough to come running back in the ring, over the ring gates. Luckily we had a super nice judge who said "training in not allowed in the ring, but if you happen to send him out to his dumbbell again, I told you that training in the ring is not allowed". I sent him again and he got his dumbbell (which was still laying out there from the first throw) and brought it back perfect. Then, he stepped through the broad jump.
Saturday didn't get much better except that Bosley didn't leave the ring. But, we failed heeling. Heeling? Really? And he stepped through the broad jump again. And laid down on his out of sight sit - his stays are usually solid and I don't even worry about them.
I really left the weekend feeling not too good about the whole obedience thing. This is the first weekend I have ever felt like this after doing obedience. It wasn't just because Bosley failed a couple things - I can deal with that as long as I have a nice overall performance. I really had to work hard to keep his focus at all. Frustrating.
So, Wednesday I went to Calgary to do a private obedience lesson with an obedience judge/instructor/competitor. I have a great group of people that I train with here, but I just needed a fresh perspective on what I am doing. So I made the 4 hour round trip for a 1 hour lesson. We started with her saying "show me your heeling". I took about 3 steps and she said "OK, stop there". Uh Oh. She made some little changes to when and how I reward. She said Bosley has a great foundation but I just missed a step along the way and that is letting him know that when we are working, we are working. He doesn't get a choice and I can't let him gawk around. When we are working, he is focused on me only. She said I am too easy on him :) I laughed - I certainly know that is true.
She also gave me some proofing ideas for his dumbbell and some ways to make the retrieve more fun for him. So, lots of good stuff packed into that hour lesson. Now I just need to work hard at putting everything together. We have 2 months until our next trial and I really hope to see some improvement by then.