Monday, September 7, 2009

No home-court advantage today!

Okay, I've come to think of trials as an opportunity to see where we are in training, but I am really confused after today's trial. The trial was held at the training club I belong to and where we routinely train. Now, wouldn't you think that trialing there would be much easier because he was familiar with the building? We trialed in the same ring we have been practicing in - even had the same patterns we have practiced. However, you would have thought he had never been in that building or seen other dogs before! He was totally distracted and stressed by the trial environment. I'm left wondering, why would that be? Why would he be so much more stressed in this building then he had been at trials in other places he had never seen?

Overall, we probably looked like we were doing the exercises in slow motion : ) True to form, he really slows down when stressed. He lagged some on the heeling pattern, got the first two signals, but then missed the come signal - so, NQ.

Articles - He got both articles correct, however, he really did take a long time to work the pile and stopped to gaze around a few times. Another judge could have easily had me call him in after a couple pauses, but this judge was very patient and allowed him enough time to find the articles.
Gloves - Good pivot and retrieve of the correct glove, although, slow pick up and return.

Moving stand - Very good stand, although no response on the call to return to heel, so I had to give a second command - second NQ.

Directed jumping - Now, this was really interesting. His go out was straight and to the gate - but he walked. I knew we were in trouble then. He headed to the correct jump, but since he was walking, he just didn't have the speed to do the jump - third NQ. The second jump was much better though. He trotted out, sat on command and took the correct jump. Yay! At least a good finish : )

So, I'm left to ponder, what to do now? We need just one more leg to get our UD title. I think I will give it a break for a week or so. We'll still have training sessions, but we'll work on some fun things for awhile. Maybe I'll try to teach him a few more tricks - or maybe we'll just go to the park and play. That would be something different for him - we really don't have a lot of free play time.


The PR Gang said...

Well I'm certainly no training guru and have never done any obedience past CD but it sure sounds like Jackson needs a break. Have other trainers, your breeder, mentor or anyone been able to give you any advice? I wish you the best and can understand your frustration.

Kathie R said...

Oh yeah, we get lots of advice : ) And, I probably sounded a lot more frustrated than I really am. Considering his personality, it's just been difficult to overcome his getting so worried and stressed at trials. He has come so far though, I am in awe sometimes at what we've been able to achieve. When we get this final leg, we're going to take time to have fun!

Lindsay said...

What about taking the week leading up to the trial off? I don't know how that works with regards to obedience, but I know that it works for some agility dogs of various breeds. I've heard of some people taking two weeks off leading up to an agility trial and their dog does great!

Jennifer H. said...

Aww Kathie I am sorry about the NQ. I wanted to say that Falkor was also VERY distracted and stressed at the building today. I truly thought today was going to be a piece of cake since he is SO used to the building and he was acting like a nutcase when we first got there. He wouldn't even take treats from my hand! I don't think it helps that it is beyond crowded in there. I wish I had some helpful advice to give to please know that we'll always be in your cheering section!

Kathie R said...

Thanks Lindsay, that's something to consider. I'll remember that prior to the next trial. It might help take the pressure off both of us : )

Kathie R said...

Thanks Jennifer, And congrats again to you and Falkor on your RN.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kathie and Jackson,
I think you are both fabulous! I am a very stressy dawg, loads worse than Jackson!
Remember to be proud of yourselves; be confident that you will make it; but patient about it too!
Mumma had some guesses as to why Jackson might have found it hard:
Maybe he was stressed because he is used to that place being a certain way, not all very busy and full of other dawgies.
Maybe he was trying to tell you something: anything from him not feeling well, or having a full bladder or something.
Or maybe he was just having a bad day.
keep up the good work!

Mr Darcy

Kathie R said...

Thanks Mr Darcy. I think you're right about him not recognizing the environment because it's so different than when he's alone training in it. Dogs don't generalize well, so maybe he wasn't making the connection. Also, someone at the trial had a theory about why dogs do better in completely foreign places - you, the handler, becomes the only 'known' to them so they pay attention to you. You are their 'rock.' Hmmmm... that's an interesting theory too.

Jennifer H. said...

Hi Kathie! THank you very much for the congrats and also thank you SO very much for being one of my sponsors for the club. I really apprecaite it! :)

Honey the Great Dane said...

Yeah, I agree with all the other commenters - while in general, having to "perform" in a familiar environment is generally better, I think the unfamiliar atmosphere might be unsettling. I actually think it is more that the human handler is affected and the dog picks up on that. And also - maybe it's true that in a strange place, a dog will be more focused on its handler - although I think this depends on the personality and self-confidence of the dog. Some (confident) dogs would just become so excited by the distractions of a new place that they are likely to disobey the handler more to run off and explore - as opposed to those who feel insecure and look to their handler for reassurance. I guess the ideal combo is a dog that is confident in strange situations but under enough control that it will obey! :-)