Today we were up and on the road before dawn (ick!) to go to Queen City and try for a qualifying score in Novice obedience. There were 17 dogs in the class, but only 12 showed up (oops, just realised I forgot to correct that on the video and I posted the wrong number on Facebook- drat!) Anyway, I was the 8th dog into the ring and the judge decided to do the sits and downs for the first half right before my run.
No problem, more time to get ready. Mostly Dazzle relaxed in his crate till they started the downs, then I did a short warm up and was ready when the dogs left the ring. But then the judge took a bathroom break! More warm up, but in hindsight I realise I should have just used "squish" (a stand-by position I learned from Denise Fenzi that lets the dog know they can just chill out).
Once the judge was back, we went in for our run. I saw glimmers of the heeling work I have been doing. My goal is to get him to shift his weight onto his rear legs so his front legs can come up and add a bit of "prance" and flair to the exercise. It will be fun to look back on this weekend's videos and see the beginning baby steps :-) We didn't have any crowding and bumping or "contact heeling" and I'm SO happy that practice carried over into the ring! I've been working on that a bit longer than the weight shift/prance.
Another thing I was very happy with was that I was able to use some excitement building moves (leap to touch my hand) and exciting tones of voice that in the past would have had him jumping around and nipping me and getting too out of control. Now he's at a level of training and maturity that he can handle that and it will really help us as we progress. I only used a little because I didn't want to push my luck :-) But as we get more and more practice, this is coming along nicely.
I was VERY happy with our run, but I think by the end Dazzle was really wondering where the damn toy was! I think that's why his sit was crooked- he was asking "Toy? Now do I get the toy?" Silly boy. I had to grab his collar to keep him from running to the steward and grabbing his leash. I let him tug it on the way out of the ring because he sat still to let me clip it on and he was moving with me out of the ring (not pulling back on it) and not out of control (another great improvement!).
We had several dogs before our group sit/down stays so I had Dazzle rest in his crate. The sits and downs were no problem except at one point on the sit Dazzle had to inspect his boy parts and was all contorted and I really thought he was going to lay down, but he managed to get back into a good solid sit and held it. I think he just wanted to keep me on my toes :-) I was thinking lots of "up" thoughts as he was close to the ground! LOL On the down, he looked totally bored.
So we managed to get a score of 194 (out of 200) and walked out with a 4th place ribbon! No photos, but here is the video:
VIDEO: AKC Nov. Obed 1st leg