February 15, 2009

4th Rally Nov. Q

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Today was an extra run that I used to practice some new things. We earned a 94, so I'm happy with the run, but I'll need to do some work before we enter a higher level. The first thing I tried was to ONLY hold my leash in my right hand. I tied 2 knots in it near the handle to shorten it a bit and to be sure I didn't shorten it further during our run. This seemed to work well and I'll likely do more practice with this. My left hand was still going back without my knowing it through the serpentine, but since I didn't have the leash in that hand, it didn't really matter. :-)
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The other thing I tried (which we have done in practice) is to let him see that I set his reward outside the ring (on his crate.) On all of our previous runs, he was thinking it was hiding in my right hand. Since the change in leash holding would make that ruse obvious, I decided to try it this way instead. He was DEFINITELY more distractible, but not overly so. Even when a little Pom did a fast recall in the next ring and he lost complete focus, he was willing to quickly come back and continue working. He was forging ahead a bit, but he wasn't wrapped around me and in my path the way he was when he thought the ball was in my right hand.
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It was clear at the end that he understood the big "yes!" I gave him when we finished because he raced out of the ring and directly to his crate to get his ball. LOL So I think with a bit more practice, this can be perfected. Now that I can practice in a ring at the club just about any time I want, I'll be able to work on this more and return the precision the ball generates without having to hide from him the fact that it's not in my hand. I'll also include putting the leash back on as part of the exercise before he gets to go for the reward.
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Here's the video:
video
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Overall I couldn't be happier with his performance this weekend! It was a VERY distracting environment, brand new to him, and he had to do a lot of waiting around (which he really doesn't like.) But bully sticks helped him relieve his frustration with pent up energy and not being able to play with the other dogs and he actually took a few naps in his crate dispite all the hustle and bustle around us. So I was very happy with that too!
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I found out there is a UKC Rally show nearby at the end of the month which I'd really love to enter him in since they are offering "4 shows" during the weekend and he could get another title in that venue. But I may be going to MI for the massive Detroit Kennel Club show at Cobo Hall to help "meet and greet" with him in the Dog Scout booth. It's currently still up in the air which I will be doing and I'm waiting on the answer to a question I have about the Detroit show that will help decide where I'll be.
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