Monday, June 21, 2010

Jackson makes the news

Jackson is a celebrity :) Well, he made the local newspaper anyway in the town we were trialing in this past weekend. I guess it's hard to keep a low profile when you have a great dane in obedience :) I did talk to the reporter when we came out of the ring, but I didn't know he had taken any pictures so I was really surprised when a friend sent me this article -

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The weekend trials

The weekend trials went surprisingly well. We didn't get any UDX legs, but I was pleased with his performance - in most exercises. We qualified in Utility both days, however, NQd in Open both days. The problem in Open both days was the drop on recall. He's been pretty solid on that in practice, but with the stress of the trial and the distractions, the drop command just wasn't registering with him.

It was pretty crowded in the building with not much room to maneuver without running into other dogs. That can create quite a bit of stress for Jackson - and for me too, trying to protect the space around him in close quarters. He's not particularly good with strange dogs in his face, so I really need to keep a close eye on him so I can manage that. This was one of the larger-entry trials that we've been to this year, so even though it was a challenge, it was a good experience for us.

What I was most pleased with was his improvement on his fronts and finishes. We have been losing a lot of points on those things, but they were much better this weekend - especially today. Now, the sits were still really, really slow. I suspect the stress of the trial has a lot to do with the slow sits because he doesn't sit that slow in training. OMG, I just stopped to count up the number of sits I ask him to do in a trial, and it's 38! (23 in utility and 15 in open) So, if you have crooked sits, those points can sure add up :)

Overall, I am much happier with our performances at the end of this weekend than I was after the last trial weekend. I felt we were a little more in the groove. And, I got a lot of positive comments from folks around the ring, who say they really enjoy watching him perform in the ring. Now, I don't know if it's because they are so surprised to see a Dane in obedience or if they just think he is a cool dude :) Either way, I'll take it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Training update

Training has really been going well this past week. We've been mixing it up quite a bit with some clicker training and formal obedience, and we've been training less frequently - meaning not every day. Trying to work on some skills with the clicker that will help in the trials - like focus, sits, and fronts.

Today we trained at the club and tried to work in more distractions than usual. We can't create the trial-like setting, but we threw in a few odd things to try to distract him. When we did articles there were loose dogs wandering around the ring and a couple people walking around the article pile. It did take him a little longer to work the pile, but he got the correct articles each time.

When we did the other exercises, we also had people and dogs wandering around the ring. Not a problem with heeling and figure 8s. I am really pleased with his heeling lately - at least in practice he is staying with me. There was a blip in the drop on recall. He failed to come when I called him from the drop. I think he was distracted by the dog behind me so that gave me an opportunity to go in and correct him to show him what I wanted. Hopefully, next time he's distracted, he'll remember he needs to work through it.

Really slow sits and sometimes no sits in the go outs have been a problem in the trials. To try to correct this, I've started working on the sits away from me with the clicker. I've been clicking and treating for sits at various distances away from me. Trying to make sure he understands the command in different locations and situations. Maybe with the clicker training he will be more responsive with the increased distance when I'm across the ring.

We're still working on the rear-end awareness with the box. And, we've added focus training to the mix. I'm clicking and treating whenever he looks at me. It appears to be helping with his focus.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's officially summer - and we need a plan

We've taken some time off from formal obedience training after the last weekend of trials. Time to regroup. Memorial Day weekend is behind us and it's now officially summer, so we need to come up with a summer plan for training and trialing.

I was somewhat disappointed in our last trial performance, however, I've decided to focus and build on the positives. Hmmm.... maybe it was just an off weekend for Jackson. So, I've entered him in another trial in a couple weeks, just to see if it was a fluke, or if we need a longer break from training and trialing.

We've been training less frequently this past week or so, and we've been doing more clicker/fun training instead of the formal stuff. We're getting pretty good at the rear-end-awareness exercise with the box and we've been doing some fun things with attention.

Our plan for awhile is to continue training, but with the reduced amount of formal training and more of the fun stuff. My goal also is to get him out to explore some new interesting places. The plan is still a little vague now, but I'm going to try to come up with some specific behaviors to work on with the clicker.