After several days to reflect on our performance at the recent trial in our club building, I've decided to go full speed ahead with our training with the goal - dare I say it - of earning the UDX (Utility Dog Excellent) title in 2010! I was somewhat disappointed with our performance at the trial earlier this month, which left me wondering about our future goals. However, I've been happy with our training since then, so I still have a glimmer of hope that we can do this.
We had our last utility class of the year tonight. So, it was a good time to reflect back over the last several months to see what progress we have made. It has really been helpful for him to work with the distractions and stress presented by the class situation. And, overall, I can see that he is working with much more confidence than he was a few months ago.
We started the class out tonight with heeling and signals with all the dogs in the ring. His signals were good - good attention and no misses. I'm still dealing with some lagging and slow sits on heeling at times, which tells me that he is still somewhat stressed with the distractions/activity in the class, although he is improving.
We then paired up to do articles, so there were four dogs working articles in the ring at the same time. Great for distractions! Jackson did the best he's done with articles tonight. No circling at all. He went right to work and got the correct article each time. We even threw in the distraction of having someone stand in the middle of the article pile. This is the same dog that a few months ago would circle the pile at least a dozen times before starting to work the pile.
The directed retrieve exercise went really well. Good pivots and retrieve of the gloves, with nice fronts and finishes tonight. The directed jumping also went well, except for one minor blip. His go outs were good and he had good speed heading for the first jump. Then he stopped short at the bar jump. We redid it and he took the jump fine, as well as the high jump. Did another set - all was good. It wasn't until I went to reset the jump for the next dog that I realized the jump had been set at 26 inches instead of the usual 24 inches. Maybe it was the extra two inches that threw him off the first jump.
Overall, I was very happy with his performance at this last class of the year. Sometimes I have to look back quite a ways to see the progress, but when I do look back, I can see that he really has come a long way. It gives me hope that we can accomplish our 2010 goal : )