I think the exercises we've been doing to try to increase speed are working. We started last week with increasing the distance for all the exercises and we've dropped the formal fronts on the recalls. I'm starting to see a difference - instead of walking in slowly, he's now trotting in. Real progress! Of course eventually we'll have to put formal fronts in and reduce the distance, but for now we'll continue practicing with increased distance and try to build that 'muscle memory.'
There have been more distractions than usual at the club the last couple days. I think it's a sign that the spring trials are beginning and people are getting their dogs prepared. Distractions are good. He needs to learn to work with other dogs and activities going on around him. We started out with a couple long distance recalls, which went well. Then, he and his training partner, Melody, did a couple recalls together. Border Terriers are faster than Great Danes - at least today : )
He's not missing on his signals hardly ever now, so we may be over the hump on that one. No more avoidance behavior, at least not in practice. And, the articles and gloves went well today. I'm putting the articles on the far side of the ring so I can get quite a bit of distance on the return. I send him to the pile from about 20 feet away, then retreat back across the ring for the return. He's now trotting back to me with the article.
Tomorrow night we start another eight-week utility class. It's been two weeks since we finished up the last session. He's much more stressed in class than in practice, so I will be watching to see if I see any improvement in his performance or attitude in class.