Friday, January 2, 2009

A new year - a new plan

Happy New Year!

Our Goal for 2009 - Earning the Utility Dog (UD) title.
An ambitious goal - yes - especially for a green handler and a 'challenged' Great Dane! I've decided to start this blog to help me organize my thoughts on training, try to put things in perspective, and track our progress - or lack thereof. I am also hoping that anyone who happens onto this blog and has some thoughts, comments or suggestions about our training activities will feel free to post their comments or questions.

First, a little background about Jackson.
He is a four-year-old, neutered Great Dane. He is from a litter that my husband and I bred, so I have had him from birth. We've had Great Danes and have shown in conformation for many years, but this is my first attempt to train for competitive obedience. I refer to him as being 'challenged' - not because he is a Great Dane, because I do not buy into the perception that Great Danes are a difficult breed for obedience - but because of his particular personality. Jackson is very smart - but quite the worrier. Building confidence has always been our biggest challenge. He picks up on the exercises quite quickly - but being able to perform those exercises with distractions and in differing environments is something else. And performing the exercises with precision is yet another challenge.

To build confidence, we have a weekly goal of visiting and/or training in at least three new locations/situations during the week. We participate in group training classes and practice sessions. Jackson is also certified as a therapy dog (TDI) and we make regular visits to a care center.

The next trial
Today I am mailing in my entries for the local obedience trials on Feb. 7 and 8 - yikes, that's only five weeks away! This will not be our first time in the Utility A ring. Our first attempt to earn a utility leg was last October. Actually, his performance was not too bad, but some missed signals kept us from the illusive Qs. Then in November we went to Arizona for awhile and I entered him in a couple trials there. We're from Iowa where all our obedience trials are indoors. Not so in Arizona. Their trials are outdoors. This proved to be more distractions and scary things than he could handle. The Feb trials we've entered are in the building we train in, which will help. But still, trialing in the building is a completely different feeling than training there. We'll see :-)

1 comment:

Dina said...

Hi Kathie,
I just wanted to wish you well and encourage you to keep plugging away. All the things you mention Jacson is having trouble with are common problems for a green utility dog. Everything will come together eventually.
Going to 3 different places to train a week is a good goal- trying going to unconventional places to train as well, such as the wal mart parking lot or near noisey construction sites. If Jackson has trouble because of the distractions, you just help him complete the exercise successfully & repeat. Rosie is a bit of a worrier too, and the thing that has helped her the most is exposure, combined with my firm insistence that she do it even if she's worried.
Dina, with Guidon, Rosie, & Dare