It's been a busy couple weeks now with training for last weekend's trials and trying to keep up with the game of the day in the e-course I'm taking, Susan Garratt's 'Five Minutes to a Brilliant Recall.'
First off, the trial weekend in Wisconsin - The trials were held in conjunction with a conformation show so there was quite a bit of activity (read that - distractions) in the building. It was air conditioned though with plenty of room for crating and warm up. The ring set-up had spectators on two sides, a rally ring adjacent on one side, and a wall on the fourth side. Jackson was worried about what was going on around him - especially in back of him. And, wouldn't you know it - the signals were at the end of the ring with the active ring behind him. On the signal to down, he could just manage a sit. I think he was afraid that if he went all the way down, something would get him from behind. NQ. The remainder of the exercises went pretty well, although there was the usual stress-induced slowdown and some crooked sits and finishes. He did qualify in Open though. He's much more confident in the Open exercises - maybe because they're not as complicated and there's not as much opportunity to make the 'wrong' choice.
There was ring rental time after the trial was finished on Saturday. We spent our five minutes in the ring just heeling and playing - trying to get him more comfortable in the setting so he wouldn't be so stressed.
The good news now - Sunday he qualified in both Utility and Open to earn his 7th UDX leg! I don't know if the ring rental time helped, or if he was just more comfortable with the environment the second day and not so stressed, but he held it together and completed all the exercises.
Only three more legs to go! We are entered in trials at the end of the month so we'll see how things go. Which brings me to the GAMES!
I'm having great fun with the five-minute games - a different one each day - that focus on attention and drive. The things we desperately need : ) My training plans for the rest of the month are to concentrate on playing those games with Jackson with the hope of increasing his attention on me. That's the really big difference I see when we go to trials. I am so envious of those handlers whose dogs focus all their attention on them and don't seem to even be aware of what else is going on around them. If I can get just a little more attention from Jackson in trial situations maybe he won't be so aware (read that - stressed) by what else is around him. We'll see : )