Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend trials

It turned out to be a great weekend of trials. I wasn't sure what to expect on the drive up - I never really know what to expect with Jackson : ) - but, it went really well. This was the first time I had been to this particular trial, which is about a four-hour drive from our home. It was a small trial so there was plenty of room for crating and warm-up. The people were super friendly and the weather was beautiful.

We qualified in Open and Utility both days, earning us our 3rd and 4th UDX legs! (Only six more to go.) He did the best ever in Utility on Saturday with a score of 191.5. However, today (Sunday) he was back to normal with a score of 177.5 : ) He's getting more consistent with his ability to perform the basic exercises to qualify but his attitude/stress level/focus goes up and down and really affects his performance. We can't seem to make that transition from enthusiasm and attention in practice and warm-up to carry over when we step into the ring. However, on the bright side, he's been able to work through the stress and perform the exercises.

I was particularly happy with the scent discrimination exercises. We've finally worked through the endless circling the pile problem and he goes right to work now and picks up the correct article quickly. I was also pleased with the directed retrieve, signals and the moving stand exerises. We need work though on the directed jumping. The going out part was good, but the sits were painfully slow and he walked in a few steps on two of the go-outs before he sat. A few more steps in and he probably would have NQd. Training note to self: work go-outs separate from jumps for awhile and focus on the sits. 

In Open, he was pretty solid on the basics of the exercises, however, we lost lots of points on crooked fronts and some really bad finishes. Today, since we had the #3 glove, which is a left pivot that he backs into, we practiced several of these in our warm up. The upside of that is he did the pivot to the glove great, but whenever I gave him the right finish signal today, he tried to back into a left finish and ended up sitting in front of me instead of beside me. That's probably hard to visualize.Suffice it to say, it was a really bad finish. Training note to self: Work on finishes!

There are a lot of things that we can work to improve, but overall, I am really happy with his consistency in performing the key elements of the exercises. We are entered in another trial in three weeks, so time to sit down and make a plan : )

7 comments:

Lindsay said...

Congratulations!!! That's so great! You guys are cooking right along!

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Am SO happy for you - you've worked so hard and really deserve it! :-)

I have to say - I can SO empathise with what you said about the trouble transitioning between the energy & enthusiasm & focus in warm-ups/training - and then the totally different dog when you go into the ring. I have that too with Honey and I find it SO frustrating!! So if you ever do find anything that helps - please, please do let me know! :-) People watchign Honey at some of her performances would probably think she is miserable doing "dancing" - and yet when you watch her during training, she is a totally different dog and obviously LOVES doing all her dance moves. I just can't figure it out.

I think you're probably the only person who really understands my position as Jackson is so similar to Honey when working...it makes training so frustrating and such hard work that I really wonder if I should continue sometimes. But when I mention my dilemma to a lot of people, they end up telling me that I should base it on her attitude and to stop dancing with Honey "if she doesn't want to do it" - but as you know, it's very hard to gauge whether she DOESN'T want to do it because you can't rely on the usual signs of enthusiasm & excitement like in other dogs! I mean, if I did, I wouldn't even take Honey for her daily walks because she doesn't show any enthusiasm for those either when we're getting ready - but obviously enjoys them once we're out & about. I think one just needs to judge things differently when one has a very calm, low-drive dog like this who doesn't get excited about much in general. If you just judged things based on Jackson's enthusiasm in the ring, you probably wouldn't have come so far and achieved so much, would you? You would have probably given up long ago! But because you know your own dog, you know that you're not "forcing" him to do something horrible and that he IS enjoying it, in his own way, even if he isn't jumping around and wagging his tail madly like a Labrador or something...

I wonder if Honey gets stressed too, like Jackson, in the ring? Although I suspect it's ME as I get very stressed & nervous during performances and get very 'up-tight' with her - whereas I'm much more relaxed and fun during our training sessions...(sigh)...

The other reason for the difference (in Honey's case anyway) I think is the use of rewards. She is definitely much more focused & enthusiastic when she can be rewarded often - whereas in the ring, we have to get through a 2-3 min routine, with over 2 dozen commands to be followed in a row, without any rewards (other than verbal praise) and that's where things fall apart...

Anway, we're just doggedly ploughing on and training as best we can! :-)

Hsin-Yi

Honey the Great Dane said...

ps. Kathie - I just came across this article in the Karen Pryor site and thought you might find it useful/interesting as it's about UD - it's about dogs that perform poorly in the ring and whether a "variable reinforcement schedule" helps...what do you think? Do you agree?
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/233
(you may need to register to read the full article but that's free)

Hsin-Yi

M.T. said...

Woohoo, thumbs up for a great trial weekend! :)

Honey the Great Dane said...

Hi again, Jackson - (sorry to bombard you with comments!!) - I just tagged you to play a game in my latest post - come over and check it out!

Slobbers,
Honey the Great Dane

Jennifer H. said...

HUGE congrats!!!!! What a fantastic weekend!! What trial are you guys entered at next??

Kathie R said...

Thanks everyone for the congrats, and thanks Hsin-Yi for the training comments. Will definitely go to the Karen Pryor site and check that article out.

Jennifer, our next trial is in Seward, Nebraska. Good luck in Waterloo!