I have been sticking with my goal of training with less formality for awhile in order to build confidence and have more fun. We haven't been doing a lot of formal fronts and finishes, and I've been throwing a lot of treats. This seems to really be helping his speed and enthusiasm. I've also been 'revving' him up to retrieve the dumbbell and go to the article pile. Today in practice he actually trotted out to the article pile -- and back. He usually walks slowly, so this was a bit of a surprise. The downside of all this revving up is that he occasionally anticipates instead of waiting for my command. I'm not worried about that right now, but it's something to watch.
Overall, his attitude seems much improved in practice, so I'm hoping this will carry over. (Maybe it's the weather. I know the springlike weather is sure helping my attitude :) We have a fun match in a week, so we'll see how that goes.
I took a few pictures of Jackson and Melody training today.
Jackson and Melody practicing signals together
Waiting for the directional jump signal
Melody and Jackson resting