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Posts Tagged ‘AKC Obedience’

Today the Labrador earned her CD and her RA! She qualified in both classes, and earned first place in both! I’m still in shock, but at least the nervous/excited energy is starting to wear off.

I am so very proud of her. I left class on Wednesday night feeling certain there was no way we’d qualify. I was considering pulling my entry or just not showing up. Thursday night I worked with her some in the front yard and decided we’d already paid, we’d go and see what happens, though I was still convinced we wouldn’t qualify. Friday night I was a bundle of nerves.

We were the second dog in our Novice class, and once again most of our points were lost on the heeling. We have a lot of work to do there, but she always makes me laugh. This time she took a step on the Stand for Exam, so we’ll have to work on that too since I believe in Utility the exam is much more thorough. The judge let us know we’d qualified so far as we left the ring, and I was ecstatic. We went back in for the long sit and the judge called for us to leave our dogs. I got almost to the other end of the ring, and the judge alerted us to a problem. I look back to see my Labrador still sitting, but being loomed over by a much bigger dog, who seemed very determined to sniff every inch of her. My girl held her stay as long as she good, but once the owner of the big dog was there, and the judge, she gave me this apologetic look and took a step away from all the pressure. I don’t blame her one bit, but I was sure we were done. The judge asked me to stay with my dog, but then added that I shouldn’t worry, he’d redo my long sit! So we waited for the minute to be up for the other dogs, did our long down, and then remained alone in the ring for a redo on the long sit. Amazingly we were the only dog in the class to qualify!

We got a nice break between this class and the Rally class. The course seemed simple, and the walk through went quickly. Then we were in the ring and the leash went off. There were no cones on this course — so no figure either, or serpentine or spiral. It was just the signs, and the jump. We retried one station (loosing 3 points) because I didn’t signal my stop very well, and she didn’t sit, but other than that I left the ring having no idea how I’d done, and honestly wondering if maybe I’d missed a sign as it seemed to go by quickly! I didn’t miss anything and we again got first place!

Two blue ribbons means the Labrador got two cheeseburgers! She’s also right now out back enjoying a bone. What a wonderful day! We go back tomorrow, entered again in Novice. It won’t count for anything, but it will be good experience and practice.

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I just realized I didn’t do a puppy update on Sunday. I’ll try to make up for it this Sunday, but I had a good reason! This past weekend I was competing with the Labrador. We entered our first Novice Obedience class, and got a second on Saturday, and first on Sunday earning two legs of our CD!

We also NQ’d in Rally Advanced, so we still only have two legs for that. And it’s never what you think is going to get you! Friday night we arrived early for the Rally Trial. The rain on the way down was horrible, and I was very thankful my husband was driving! Rally Excellent ran first, but I got our map and started looking over it. It looked very straight forward, but I was concerned about the fact the jump looked like it was going to be the broad jump, and that there was an offset figure 8. We’ve had the offset figure eight for both legs we’ve Q’d for, but they make me nervous! The broad jump was being used in the Excellent class, and was sitting in the exact same place where it would sit for the Advanced, so I figured the judge had built nested courses, and it would stay where it was. I have not trained the broad jump as much as I should have. The Labrador will still step on boards. I was fairly certain we were going to loose 10 points right off the bat due to that.

I watched the Excellent runs, surprised by how many people NQ’d, and not really understanding why. Turned out it was a judge’s error, which wasn’t pointed out or realized until after placements were given, and some people left. She was NQing for jump refusal, but the rules now state it’s just an IP. Meanwhile someone else commented that the broad jump hadn’t been set correctly either! They removed the broad jump when it came time for Advance, and put the Bar jump in! I was ecstatic, commenting that I’d just gotten 10 points back, since I knew the Labrador would do the bar!

I also watched the first three Advanced runs. This is not something I normally do, but there were enough dogs going that I felt I could watch a few before warming up the Labrador. The first three people NQ’d. They each blew by the same sign. They just missed it. You had a right turn and then straight ahead was an about U turn, but between the turn and the U turn there was another sign. It was easy to miss. Watching them to do helped me make sure I didn’t!

Our turn came and in we went. She was doing well, forging a bit, but siting when asked, downing and heeling in the general area. We were at the last two signs and I knew something was wrong. We finished our 360 to the left, and she stepped away and squatted! Oh no! I grabbed her collar and we raced from the ring! One sign to go, and she had to go! Up until that point we had a 95, and first place. Next show we’ll get it and we’ll make sure to have a nice potty break before going in the ring! Bad handler!!

Two interesting things about this Rally Trial — the signs weren’t on the ground as I was used to. They were on PVC posts about chest high. Didn’t phase the Labrador. The other interesting thing was the judge was in a wheel chair. This explained why their Show N Go two weeks earlier had judges in wheelchairs.

Disappointed that we didn’t earn our title, and annoyed with myself we went home so I could sleep and drive back early the next morning.

The judge for the Obedience Trial was extremely nice to us Novice A people. He had a good briefing, trying to put us at ease, and was more than willing to work with us. He had us recalling away from the crowd, and told us we could set our dogs up facing any direction for the stand for exam. I was last to go, and our heeling wasn’t anything like I would have liked. Honestly I thought we were already NQ’d after I finished because I thought it was so bad. I think the Labrador sat at maybe one halt, and there was a moment during the off leash where I really have no idea where she was . Everything else was fantastic, though we lost half a point for her crooked sit on the recall. As I finished, the judge came up to tell me he’d call us back in shortly for the sits and downs. I asked him something like, “I get to do those?” He laughed, and told me that you always do the sits and downs unless you ask to be excused. For some reason I thought if you hadn’t qualified at that point you didn’t come in for the sits and downs. Then he answered what I was really asking, and told me that yes we did have a qualifying score! I was shocked and grateful and we left the ring with a happy bounce. And then the Labrador did an awesome sit stay and down stay!

The 3 minute down stay I think is the longest three minutes of your life. You stand there across the ring, looking at your dog just waiting for the judge to tell you to return to your dog. Every sound from the crating room, which she was closet to, attracted her attention. And then there was a fly. I watched it buzz around, coming closer and closer to her, expecting her to snap at it any any moment and break, but she didn’t! I was so proud of her! Second place and our first Q for Novice A!

Sunday I was a little less nervous — but only a little. I keep telling myself that one day I won’t be nervous doing this. No, I don’t believe myself. Sunday we were on. Her heeling was much better. She didn’t miss a sit! The leash didn’t tighten on the figure eight. Her sit on the recall was so good everyone commented on how beautiful it was when I left the ring. Our score was 10 points higher, enough for us to earn first place!

It was a fantastic trial. Not only because of the Q’s, but the people. I really like this club and plan to keep going there and doing their Show N Gos. An hour and a half is not a bad drive. The President and VP of the club took time out of their day to talk with me, sit with me, and offer advice and make me laugh. I need to send a thank you card.

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Today we achieved a milestone. We’ve been practicing our dumbbell retrieve daily at the house. Holds are usually done at least three times a day either in the living room, dining room or out back. We’ve done several sessions of retrieve over jump in the backyard.

Today we took it to the park. I set up the ring gates, set up the bar jump and for the first time we did a retrieve over jump off property! So very proud of the Labrador who went over, got the dumbbell, returned over the jump into a very nice front and held until I told her to give! She even returned to heel after!

New place, new distractions! Time to take this training on the road so that maybe, eventually we can do it at a show. Of course, we have our CD to get first and we had a stranger at the local pet supply store do a stand for exam today. The Labrador didn’t break her stay at all!

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Just so it doesn’t seem like I’m a complete slacker and ignoring the other dogs, I figured I’d mention that yesterday the Labrador and I traveled to a Show N Go and did two Novice run throughs.

I was very pleased with the Labrador’s performance. I could tell that some of our attention work has been paying off during our on and off leash heeling. I still need to practice more with someone walking behind us as we heel. We did a little of that today at the park and she did much better.

Her figure eights weren’t bad, but need more work when she’s on the inside. She did fantastic on the right side speeding up to keep up nicely!

She surprised me in a good way on her stand for exams, not moving at all not even to sniff the “judge”! I was very happy with her!! She’s usually so friendly that not greeting someone approaching her is just hard for her!

Her recall was nice, though her front was crooked, so we keep working on that.

And she rocked her long sit and long down even with the dog to her left breaking several times and that handler returning to reposition the dog each time. I was so very proud of my Labrador! I think it’s time to seriously start looking at the shows coming up this fall!

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So now I can officially say I compete in Obedience, Rally and Agility. Today was our first Obedience Trial. The Labrador rocked it! She earned a 193 out of 200 for second place and our first Q in Beginner Novice.

I had a conversation about nerves in the ring. I get nervous, but I was told that eventually your brain does start to work in the ring, it just takes time. I was also warned that as you move up in levels you can regress, but it usually doesn’t take as long to get it back. I had a moment today in the ring where the brain engaged. In Rally you can talk to your dog. The Labrador has her RN, so I’m used to talking to her in the ring. In Beginner Novice you are allowed the command, and then one praise without penalty. You can actually NQ for constantly talking to the dog.

We go into the ring, she sits and the judge gives the command “forward.” I tell the Labrador to heel and we move out and I start to praise her! She’s heeling, I’m excited and then something in my brain clicks and very loudly in my head the thought comes, “You need to shut up!” Brain worked! Even if it was only for a moment.

The judge was very nice and kind to the newbies. The walk through was good and helpful. At one point while in the ring he asked if I was ready. I think it was the sit for exam. At that moment the Labrador stood up. “No, you’re not ready. Don’t worry we can wait till you are.” I think I managed a “Thank you,” as I got her back into the sit. Luckily that exercise doesn’t start being judged until you leave your dog!

He was kind enough to tell me we qualified as we left the ring, so I knew we’d be going back in for our green ribbon! What I didn’t expect was the red! Apparently the brain can also freeze during the handing out of the ribbons as I heard my number, got my ribbon, but never heard my score! I had to go look that up after class, and I’m still amazed by it! We definitely need to work on heeling as that’s where we lost most of our points. I honestly believe it’s her picking up on my nerves that does it. My points loss, her good job for the ribbon!

I loved the fact they gave out copies of the AKC Obedience Regulations to everyone who Qualified in my class, along with a nice goodie bag. The granola bar in the goodie bag was greatly appreciated once I could finally eat!

So much excitement and nerves for three minutes of performance! And I get to do it all over again tomorrow. I should be able to sleep better tonight, but I know I’ll be just as nervous tomorrow!

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When I got the Labrador I realized I was going to have a large dog on my hands. While her mother was small, her father was about 100 pounds. I wasn’t sure what we would end up with, but I knew she’d be bigger than the beagles I was used to dealing with. The last thing I wanted was a large, unruly dog I couldn’t handle walking, or having people over with, so for the first time my training took me beyond the puppy class to the Beginner and Intermediate classes. On the weekends there would be extra credit for these classes which I started attending religiously. I wanted to make sure from the start that this dog that might one day be stronger than I was was trained well by that time not to try to prove it! I wanted a dog that wouldn’t knock people over and would be pleasant to walk. In the beginning those were my only goals.

One weekend about a year ago a person showed up at one of the extra credit sessions with her Border Collie. She asked me if I planned to compete with the Labrador. Before I could open my mouth, my trainer replied for me, “Yes.” I blinked, responded with something like “I am?” and a bit of nervous laughter, but the seed had been planted.

Tonight I saw that Border Collie again. I recognized the dog, and the woman reminded me she was the one who asked if I was going to compete, saying she’d been very impressed with my dog. My response to her tonight was, “So this is all YOUR fault!”

And that’s how it started!

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The other day we attempted to measure the Labrador so that I could register her for NADAC. I put her in a stand/stay and we attempted to put a yard stick at her side and a clip board over her shoulder to read the measurement. She was having none of it! My helper made the comment, “She must not know that,” to which I protested, “But she does!”

At the house I’ve done stand/stays. At the park I’ve worked on stand/stays. At the very location we were she’s done stand/stays! She knows it! Except…. Every time I’ve done it I’ve walked away. Sometimes someone has come up to lightly touch her in preparation for a stand for exam, but stand/stay has meant stand there while I walk over here, turn and them come back to your side. It’s never meant stand there while someone does something else strange to you. So stand/stay doesn’t mean to the Labrador yet exactly what I think it should mean. But that’s because I haven’t fully proofed the exercise yet.

This means now it’s time to proof the exercise so that she understand stand/stay means stand there and stay no matter what. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I exclaim, “But she KNOWS that” while she proves me wrong. It just means time for more practice and proofing!

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