With only three days left to train for the weekend trials, we headed out to the club this afternoon. We have not done much of any training the last couple days because of the heat and humidity here - upper 90s and really humid! Judging from today's performance, that was maybe a good thing. Jackson was really up today and very focused.
Our training partners, Melody and her mom Trudy, were at the club too. After we warmed up a bit, Trudy gave us a run-thru - no treats, no cheerleading, etc. - just like in a trial. Our heeling and signals were good - really good. He was slow working the article pile, but he got the correct article both times. The glove and moving stand were also passing. The pivot on the glove exercise was good and he was fast going out, but slow coming back. The last exercise, the directed jumping was good. His go outs are getting much brisker and he is sitting - slow, but he does sit. The jumps were both good. I think the throwing treats between my legs to speed him up coming in from the jumps is paying off. His speed on the jumps is much brisker.
This is where we needed to be for me to feel comfortable going into a trial. He has shown me that he is capable of doing all the utility exercises quite well -- in practice. I expect less speed in a trial environment and I know things may go south in the actual trial, but at least I'm confident that we have a chance of passing each of the basic elements. And, I'm afraid if we wait for speed on everything, we may never get in the ring!
So, my goals for the trials this weekend are:
1) I'd like to see a happy, confident dog in the ring - which means I need to be happy and confident. (I know - that's going to be tough :)
2) I'd like to see significant improvement over our last trial experience in February - improvement in his attention to me, especially on the signals and directed jumping.
3) I'm really hoping to see some improvement in my handling skills, especially with heeling. I will try to focus on what I'm doing and how I'm moving when I go in the ring so as to not confuse or stress him. This is the one thing that I have control over.
4) And, to have FUN!
I'm looking forward to the opportunity to see where we're at in training and trialing, so I can evaluate our progress and develop a training plan for the rest of the summer.