We started a new session of utility classes last week and tonight was our second week of the session. It's a stressful class for Jackson because there are several dogs and handlers working in the same ring doing different exercises, so he gets distracted and worried about what's going on around him. I'm probably a little stressed too and I think he picks up on that. He knows it's not the usual fun and games atmosphere we have in practice.
Tonight we did run throughs because several people in class are entered in a trial this weekend. Jackson's performance in the exercises was improved over last week, however, there still needs to be a lot of improvement before we're ready to enter another trial. I'm hoping that by the end of this session of classes I will see enough improvement that I will feel we're ready to enter a trial.
In his run through, the heeling and signals went well. He got all the signals, which was a real improvement. Haven't seen the avoidance behavior or lack of response to the signals at all lately. The articles did not go so well. He got the first (metal) article okay, but missed on the leather article - twice. That's the exercise where we really need to see improvement. When he is stressed, he avoids picking up the article. Doesn't appear to be as easy to fix this problem as the signals.
The directed retrieve was good, although the pivot could have been better. And, the moving stand was near perfect (his best exercise, if he doesn't anticipate). That just left the directed jumping to do. His go outs were good, but his sits were very, very slow. He got distracted so I had to give a second command for the high jump, but the bar jump was good.
Overall, I could see improvement, which is what I'm going to be looking for during this session. I figure, if he can perform all the exercises well in this stressful class environment then chances are he'll be able to perform them in a trial situation.
Training notes for next week:
- Create distractions in practice for articles
- practice run-throughs so he gets used to working the entire set of exercises