Posts Tagged ‘AKC’

This weekend the Labrador earned her very first AKC Novice Standard Q and a first place!  It was our first AKC agility trial.  We entered Standard Novice.  While we’ve been competing in NADAC for two years, we’d spent some time training the four obstacles (teeter, tire, chute and table) that AKC uses that NADAC does not.   We read the rules, but didn’t fully understand all of them and figured the best way to learn was by doing!

The morning of the trial we arrived a little early to learn about where we check in, how numbers are handled, and getting measured.  Good thing we did because the Labrador got moved down on her jump height after being measured which I was happy about!  She gets to jump 20 inches instead of 24!  And there were two people available to measure so she’ll get her permanent card in the mail and not have to be measured again.  I also learned that ribbons were handled much the same as (self serve) as at a NADAC trial.

Some things that are fault in AKC aren’t a fault in NADAC (passing the plain of an obstacle).  But where as with NADAC you must have a fault free run to qualify, with AKC (at least Novice) you can have up to 15 faults (You have to score 85 out of 100).  Since I wasn’t completely clear on what was a fault and what wasn’t I just ran my course on Saturday.  We had a very disjointed started.  The Labrador wasn’t focused, but once I got her focused she was awesome.  She collected and dropped on the table, left the table flew long and low over the broad jump, into the chute!  From the chute she sailed through her weaves without a problem and over the final jump!  We skipped a jump in the beginning of the course, and I was told the next day that I had taken her back and done it we probably would have qualified.  I made the decision to move forward once I got her attention passing it by.  I’m happy with what she gave me once she got focused and cheered at the end of our run.

Sunday we had a fantastic start — chute to tunnel, to the dog walk to tire.  Then a switch to a jump.  She almost managed her stop on the table, but got right back on (-5 points).  From the table she completely missed the teeter, but I pulled her back and resent (-5 points).  From there well, the person scribing was more important than the jump (-5 points), but this time I pulled her back and had her do the jump once I got her focus back.  The rest of the course she was awesome.  Fantastic contact on the A-Frame good enough I got a front cross in, then beautiful weaves to the final jumps!  Again I left the ring happy with what I had gotten (the fantastic weaves, great contact etc), and knowing there are things we are working on and need to continue (not everyone wants to see you Ms. Labrador!).  What I didn’t realize was that we qualified!  After I left the ring, someone came up and congratulated me.  Then another person asked me if I’d gotten my ribbon.  Ribbon?  Really?  We were only Novice Standard dog to qualify that day!



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The Golden is now a Canine Good Citizen! He has his very first title! And I’m a bit torn.

Three years ago when the Labrador came into my life, the CGC was the only goal I had. I knew nothing of obedience, rally or agility. We went to training because the Labrador was going to be a big dog (Ha!) and she had to behave. It took us five tries to earn the CGC. Each and every time, my evaluator looked at me and said something along the lines of “Will you relax?” Each time I was so nervous that the Labrador didn’t pass due to reacting to my nerves. When we finally passed I was so excited!

And then I heard all the depreciating comments about the CGC when it became a title. Sometimes list serves are not your friend. “The AKC will do anything for money.” “The CGC is a joke.” They talked about it not being a real test, and that anyone could pass.

The consensus seemed to be a CGC was nothing to be proud of. And then another person on that list spoke out, reminding them how earlier they were declaring Obedience and Rally a dying sport because they couldn’t attract new people. And with attitudes like this, she suggested, no wonder! She was proud of her CGC, and worked hard for it and it lead her into those other sports. I wrote to her privately and thanked her for her words.

Now, the reason I am torn is I think I understand just a little more what some of those other people were seeing. Had the evaluator who passed the Labrador been there the other night, the Golden may not have passed. This evaluator was more lenient. She allowed retries. While one retry is allowed, she allowed people several. Technically, with a retry he would have passed, but it doesn’t feel the same.

Even so, I am proud of the Golden. Proud of the work we have done. I’ve enjoyed our time training, and the games we’ve played, and in the end that is what matters. And I do still love the fact he gets CGC added to his name!

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The AKC Rally National Championship was overwhelming! It was a lot of fun, but wow what an environment. Our first run I lost the Labrador. She got distracted, left my side and when she didn’t immediately return, we were excused. I don’t blame the judge, they had a lot of dogs to go through! Outside the ring I had perfect attention. I get inside, I get nervous and well, then we have an issue. I was so nervous my mouth even wet dry.

Our second run would have giving us a qualifying leg at a regular trial, so I’m very proud of her for that. Our very last sign though was a halt-pivot-halt. We stopped, she sat. We pivoted. And then she stood there. I asked her to sit. She didn’t. I asked again. And again. I realized I was begging, took a breathe, and tried again in a calmer voice. I almost reached down to tap her on the head, but instead, decided to call it. She’d stayed with me through the course, and now it was time to eat the points. We moved out, did our sit/stay and left with what would have been a qualifying score even with eating 10 points for the sign.

So, I’ve learned I’ve got to get a handle on my nerves. I’ve known that, and thought I was doing better, but in that environment it all flared back up! But we still got our nice participating certificate! Dog in need of a better handler!

We went from Rally to Agility, returning to Agility classes in March. The Labrador has repeated Intermediate, and the Golden has now down Foundations, and Beginner. In April we trialed. On Saturday we attempted Jumpers, Regular 1 and Regular 2. The good things about those runs is the Labrador stayed with me. She didn’t visit ring crew, or get distracted, she ran with me, just not necessarily over the obstacles. Actually our Jumpers run went very well, we were just over time by .2 seconds! So, though we didn’t Q I was pleased with her runs. There were vast improvements from our last agility trial to be proud of. Of course, Saturday when we had no Q’s is the day everyone came to watch including the Labrador’s breeder. Isn’t that just how it goes??

The next day we registered for Jumpers, Regular 1 and Tunnelers. This time I screwed up the Jumpers course by sending her shooting past a jump, then calling her back and making the mistake of calling her back over the jump. You can clearly hear the crowd in the video trying to tell me not to do what I was doing! Ooops! Regular 1 we missed a discrimination, but for the first time the Labrador got her weaves in the ring!! I finished the course cheering her on with “You got you weaves!” Sometimes you have to set smaller goals. Tunnelers though, tunnelers was nothing but awesome! With seconds to spar we shot around that course, not missing a beat, and moving as the most awesome tunneler team in history! And with the completion of that crazy figure eight tunnelers course little Ms. Labrador earned her very first Agility title the TN-N!!

So now we are moving on and working on building up to 12 weaves. One more session and I think we’ll have it. The Golden is doing some private agility lessons, as well as starting his CGC class. Our sit to greet is terrible. He wants to hug everyone, and has a very bad trainer. The Labrador is also doing some private agility training, and we are starting another Advanced Obedience class. I’m not sure when we’ll get back into the Obedience ring, or if it will be Open, or Graduate Novice, but either way we’ve lots to train. We’ll also be back in the agility ring this summer, and fall. I’m hoping to have the Golden’s CGC by the end of summer. After that, well I’ll need to make some more goals and plans.

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This week was Spring Break! That means things like Monday was 66 degrees and Wednesday didn’t get above 28. Today was 65, and by Monday they are calling for snow. Spring also means mud.wpid-isight-2014-03-15-21-161.png

Would you believe that’s the Golden? He really, really enjoyed his mud bath….. His water bath after….not so much:


See? He’s NOT amused!

With the RNC coming up I took this week off to train. And we trained just about every day. Mostly outside. Looking back on the week I have a few ideas for next time. First, I think I need to spend as much time thinking about my training as actual training. I need a better plan. I need to consider how we’re doing and what we need to work on. A list would be helpful. In relationship to that, I need to be keeping better notes. In the beginning I was posting here every week, and I was keeping notes at the end of every day. I’ve started to slack off. I’ve waited several days and then tried to make notes on how training went, or events that happened and find that my memory just isn’t that good any more!

All that said, it’s been a fun week. We trained with friends. The Labrador and I worked on heeling around distractions, including toys and food bowls with the expectation that there will be a food bowl at the National. We’ve worked on the broad jump. We’ve worked our ring entrance, and handing off the leash to the stewart without the Labrador going over to say hi. We’ve worked on retrieving bumpers for fun. We’ve even played some agility.

The Golden is working on sit to greet, stand for exam, and heeling. He finished his Foundation Skills for Agility by winning the “Get Out” competition! (Upholding the family honor as the Labrador did the same thing when she took the class.) He’s started jumping, and rocks his tunnels! We’re working crosses, and I’m getting better with my footwork on front crosses, hoping that will translate over to running the Labrador as well, though she didn’t often give me chances to do front crosses! She’s a rear cross type of runner (in other words, mom’s just too damn slow to keep up!). We’ve started working on 2 on 2 off contacts, and these are things I need to put on that list I mentioned above. A list to keep with me to remind me when I’m out at the park that these are the things to work on!

The RNC is coming fast. And I have trail this coming weekend — a good chance to try out some of the things I plan to do at the RNC. So goals this week are to keep training. To work on focus, and attention. I need to read the rules at least one more time and study the signs. We need to practice our downs while heeling, and stands while heeling. We will keep working on our fronts, and of course, keep working on our heeling!

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On Friday the Labrador and I had our debut in Rally Advance. This means I went into the ring and removed her leash. While we’ve done that in Agility, a Rally ring is a completely different environment. We’d also done it at a Show-N-Go, but again, different, and I was allowed treats on me.

Our first class while she did leave me to go say hi to the judge, and then to the folks at the table, we still managed a very respectable 92 out of a 100 for third place. I was pleased! Then about 15 minutes later we were back in the ring for another go.

It was a disaster. We eventually made it through about six of the signs, but the Labrador kept leaving me. She said hi to the judge, then started sniffing. Nothing I said or did brought her back to me. Finally the judge brought me my leash and said, “Thank you.” Our cue to leave the ring. Honestly, she gave us ample time to try to fix our course, but the Labrador was displaying all sorts of stress signals and avoidance. I was stressed and nervous, and she picks up on it. She was stressed. Dog shows are stressful. Hence the avoidance and sniffing.

I put her leash on and we left the ring, continuing out the door to the field behind the facility to walk and make a 911 call to my trainer.

This was our first Rally NQ. I knew it would happen one day, and I know this won’t be our last. As my trainer and others said, “Welcome to dog showing.” I was disappointed, and a bit bummed.

One exhibitor spoke to me before we went into the ring about the 5-5-5 rule, something I hadn’t heard before. Will it matter in 5 minutes? Will it matter in 5 hours? Will it matter in 5 days? The answer to all of that beyond what it showed me there was more training to do. So, I was bummed, and disappointed, not devastated. I went home that night, and wondered what would happen the next day. Would we have another good run, like our 92? Was she a one run dog? Was I a one run handler? Was it the stress? A whole in the training? Either way, I knew there wasn’t much we could do over night to change anything. We played in the yard, did some heeling with a frisbee reward, played with the tunnel and weave poles and basically had fun.

Then we headed back again the next day.

I must look as nervous as I feel at these trials as I always seem to get adopted, or maybe dog show people are just that friendly! I had people I didn’t know stopping by to assure me everything would be fine. We’d do great! They reminded me that a positive attitude is important. I love how friendly everyone is.

One thing that was different for me this time, as opposed to the last time I showed in Rally was it wasn’t the signs that worried me. I actually felt like I had a grasp of the signs after seeing the course map and didn’t feel like I needed to pull out the rule book to double check my understanding of them. I guess my flash cards have been paying off! That and I’d read through the rules again the night before. I walked the course, and worried about the fact the jump led her right towards the stewards table. There was a halt, pivot left, forward right in front of it, and I considered where to do the sign to give us distance from people with the hope she wouldn’t go say hi.

We warmed up. We went in. We completed the first sign, and then the Labrador went to say hi to the judge. “Oh no, not again.” I think the words actually left my mouth, but were followed by a here, and unlike the previous day, the Labrador returned! We heeled forward, completing our course to an amazing score of 96 and first place! Redemption! A 96 under the same judge who had handed us our leash the day before and nicely said, “Thank you.” She’d also said that she had a dog in the car that would have been worse than mine. Today her comment was, “Nice recovery!” I wanted to crow, “See I really HAD trained my dog!” Instead I smiled and said, “Thank you.” I think she understood!

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About five years ago we took a training class with the Beagle. Part of the class dealt with heeling, but nothing the trainer suggested or trained managed to raise that Beagle nose from the floor. She tried several methods and several treats, evening bringing out one she referred to as “puppy crack.” It was freeze dried liver. She was sure it was smelly enough to entice that beagle nose off the floor. The Beagle promptly accept her challenge and showed her just what she thought of that by continuing to sniff the floor. The trainer at that time threw up her hands and said, “You’ll never get that dog to heel.”

Forward five years, one Labrador and a different trainer later. While I’ve not taken the Beagle to class with this trainer, she has given me a great deal of support and confidence. She’s made me consider that perhaps I could train a dog to be responsive and well behaved and even earn a few titles along the way. I’ve had so much fun with the Labrador some of it spilled over on to the Beagle, and this weekend we went to a Show N Go where the Beagle did two Rally Novice runs. And guess what? That Beagle can heel! Oh it wasn’t perfect. There were things we’ve yet to work on, like the moving side step, but you should have seen that heeling! Tail wagging, head up Beagle prancing! Beagles can too heel! Thank you to those special people in my life who not only made me realize I can do this, but showed me that beagles can do this!

At the same Show N Go I took the Labrador to do a Rally Advanced run through. Rally Advance terrifies me. It’s off leash. Now yes I’ve done one Agility trial, which is off leash, and I train in Agility where I take the leash off for the runs, but this was different. I had no idea how she’d react. I was terrified she wouldn’t stay at my side. I warned them that this was our first attempt. That I wasn’t sure what would happen. Everyone was very kind and very supportive. I had an issue when I first took the leash off, and handed it to the ring steward. In Agility when I take it off I toss it, or put it around my neck. The only time I’ve handed off the leash before is when the Labrador is still attached to it, so she followed the leash. Shouldn’t have been a surprise. So that’s something to work on, but once I got her back, sitting in heel position and was given the command to move forward — we rocked that course!

I was amazed! I was so pleased. The “judge” at the end when I stopped for her comments said, “I didn’t make a single mark on the page!” Of course now they all think we should enter the show at the end of the month. I need another night to think about it.

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The date of our next trial has been set.  It’s several months off, which gives us not only a lot of time to practice and prepare, but to save up.  This one is closer to home, so no hotel room should be needed, but both dogs will be entered.  Or at least that’s the current plan. 

The Labrador and I are currently doing Flyball classes and Agility classes.  We are hoping to squeeze enough money out of the budget to register for an Intermediate Obedience class later this month to return to working on our CGC.

My nights are filled with downs and stays, comes and overs, stands and sits.  But sometimes you just want to have a little fun!  So, the other day we started working on play dead.  The command we are using is “Bang!”  I’m hoping to have a rudimentary understanding trained by this weekend when we are having company.  It does seem that as impressive as the stays, downs, comes and sits are friends and family always seem more impressed and amused by the silly tricks! 

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