I’ve been really behind on my posts lately, too many things going on I guess!
The dogs an I attended our first Rally Obedience Trial on November 18th & 19th. Riggs and I had just completed our first Rally class, and the training center was hosting their first CARO trial so I figured what the heck!
My original plan was to enter both dogs in one novice class just to get our feet wet and give it a try, but my friend Jade (owner of Where’s Your Sit? dog training) and our trial host convinced me to sign up for at a second day as well. And I’m so pleased that she did!
She kindly planned for Mr. Riggs to have his run first – which was good since I haven’t benched him much in the car and wasn’t sure how good he’d be without letting off some steam first! Our course Saturday morning was fair but challenging. I was relieved to see so many signs where we could stop and reward the dogs (even though I messed that part up), but there were some signs we hadn’t yet practiced in class, and a few details I didn’t know about. In class the most signs we’ve done in a practice course has been about 6-8 and Riggs has been doing very well with them. He still needs the treats for motivation or to keep from jumping on me during our “fast pace” sign; but overall with very little experience I’ve been super pleased with how he has done.
Needless to say it was a big jump from 8 signs in a course, to 22. I tried to get him through the course properly, but about half way through gave up and we FEO’d using treats to regain our focus and complete the course. As it turned out I wouldn’t have passed anyway due to my mistakes, but I thought he did just great for where he is at in his training. The training hall where the trial took place wasn’t huge, so even with everyone being very mindful and considerate there was a fair bit of commotion with dogs being benched and people waiting their turn. I was very pleased with how attentive he remained, how happy he was to work, and how much he tried for me. So it was a real positive for both of us. Looking at our score sheet our deductions all made sense, and should be pretty easy to correct for next time. Him maturing a bit will help a lot as well!
My biggest mistake (which I made in Tess’ run as well) was giving treats at the wrong time. I’m sure my instructor told me multiple times, but it hadn’t quite sunk into my brain. We can only offer rewards at the end of stationary signs, I decided I could treat anytime the dog was sitting or laying down. NOT ALLOWED 🙂 So live and learn!
Tess was in the same class as Riggs, so ran the same course. We had just started a new round of classes, so I took her to a grand total of one class two days before the trial! I have done lots of heeling training games with her to help with her reactivity and a lot of “front” work as well. So I was reasonably confident she could do those parts, though it would be a longer duration than we normally do. But I had only practiced some of the signs with her, and only once in the class/trial environment. So I wasn’t sure how she’d do. Heel, Sit, Down – nope never did it; Sit, Pivot, Sit – no again; Spiral/Weave while heeling – nope, nope, nope; Sit, Side Step, Sit – ah what’s that? Poor dog!
She was fabulous! Again with the reward thing I messed us up right out of the gate, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with how she did. Jade was kind enough to take a video for me. I loved how happy she was the whole time we worked!
All in all I was really pleased with both dogs. We hadn’t practiced enough and I made some silly mistakes, but it was a really positive experience for all of us, and the training facility did an awesome job organizing and putting on the trial.
Sunday afternoon we competed again. Again, luckily Riggs went first! We had a different judge for the afternoon trial, so the course was a little different. I thought the signs were a little easier for us…more what we have practiced in class, and it flowed a little more; but the downside of that (for us) was that there weren’t as many opportunities to reward. I knew with Riggs I’d have very little chance of getting him through all the signs with so few rewards in between. The jump from 8-22 would just be more than his little brain could take. So I decided to FEO with him right off the hop. He did awesome! Was such a little star, doing everything just as he would in class and tail wagging the whole time. Not that the day before was bad, but this was just icing on the cake and really allowed him to be successful.
I was really on the fence for what to do with Tess, my inclination was to FEO with her as well, but Jade convinced me (I’m sensing a theme here!) to try to show normally and be ready to FEO if I needed to. She was right again! I got about half way through the course correctly, but Tess was just a little too interested in the signs and started knocking them over and generally just being distracted by them. So I pulled out the treats and finished the rest of the course. She was incredible! I’m sure we made all kinds of mistakes and still have a lot of polishing to do, but with her limited practice I couldn’t have been more thrilled with her. Looking at the score card (outside of the knocked signs) we only had a few deductions over the whole course. So I’m pretty excited about that, once she gets a little less interested in the signs I think we’ll be set! Can’t wait for the next trial to start to pick up some Q’s!!!
A big thanks to Jade and the whole High Tails Pet Resort team for putting on such a great trial, and always being so welcoming and encouraging to all competitors! And thank you to Megan Crane our amazing rally instructor for all the tips and help preparing us for the trial!
The tired dogs (ready to be home) after a weekend of Rally 🙂