Here are our runs from the Cyclone Country Kennel Club trial Feb. 17. Phoenix is a work in progress but this is a 180 degree improvement from last fall.
If you turn up the volume, you can hear it was a noisy trial site (plus a funny ringside conversation at the start of our Open run). They were judging specialties in the rings nearby and the bursts of applause occasionally sync with Phoenix completing an exercise, which was kinda cool. Plus I was super happy the ones that occurred in the middle of an exercise didn't derail his brain - another indicator he was in a good place mentally and thinking about his job and not looking for excuses to shut down.
Things I really liked about these runs: happy bounces/willingness to bounce, hard nose touches, play between exercises, wagging tail and good focus on heeling, brisk responses, confident signals, NO BLOODY WALK-INS (gee, that’s a biggie, can ya tell?) and a fair level of technical accuracy.
Things that need work: MY heeling skills, speed transitions (esp. normal-slow-normal), about turns, speed on finishes (he’s gone from slow and crooked to slow and straight, at least we're moving in the right direction), accuracy of his get-in (left) finish, confidence about go-out spot (first go is a little wobbly, second one is much better), more play between exercises and speed on any and all returns/retrieves. Plus probably a dozen other things but ya can’t fix everything at once.
And there are still some obvious stress signals: yawns, lip licking and ears back. But they weren’t a constant, permanent condition like last fall and he was willing to keep working. I'm hoping they will fade as both of us gain more confidence together. I am so proud of my Skinny Little Dog.