This past weekend of trials was a mixed bag - some success, some not so much success, but overall lots of fun : ) It was a really nice trial site - fairgrounds in Seward, Neb.; the weather was near perfect; friendly people; and we picked up our 5th UDX leg! However, didn't get the double Q on Sunday because he missed the signal to come from the down on the drop-on-recall exercise in Open.
The trial site is around three hours from our home, so we drove over on Friday afternoon and were able to get into the building and set up. We like to get in the evening before to set up if we can because it's sometimes difficult to find space for a Dane-sized crate if we get there at the last minute. Our training buddy, Melody the Border Terrier, was also there so Jackson had a 'friend' to crate next to. I'd like to think he is less stressed if he has friends there, but I don't really know if that helps or not.
He was stressed and distracted in the ring as usual - lots of yawning, panting and looking around instead of focusing on me, but he was able to work through it and on Saturday he qualified in both utility and open for that 5th UDX leg. We lost a LOT of points for lagging, crooked sits, slow sits, some no finishes, etc. He was quite a contrast to the border collies and goldens that were so fast and so focused on their handlers! However, I am happy with how far he's come in trialing when compared to his performances a few months ago. I just have to keep reminding myself not to compare him to those high-energy dogs. He is what he is : )
On Sunday, our utility run went well and we qualified. However, he missed that come signal from the drop-on-recall and I had to give a second command. I'm not sure what happened there. His mind must have been somewhere else at that moment. That's just something that happens. I'm not going to stress about it in training - just hope it doesn't happen again.
Overall, I was very happy. It's still the ring stress that gets him, so my plan for the next few weeks is to get him out in new places at least three to four times per week to work on basics - attention, heeling, signals, drop on recalls, etc. I know that was my goal some time ago, but I got somewhat lazy about it and didn't get out as much as I had hoped to. This time I'm really going to try to stick with it. We're entered in a trial in three weeks so I'm hoping it will help him build up more confidence.
Here's a couple pieces of video from this weekend. One is the figure 8 in open and the second one is the retrieve over high.