Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 5: Obedience and home

Ahhhh, the sheer bliss of typing on a full-sized keyboard again!

Yesterday Phoenix and I did obedience: Open and Utility. I'd like to say it went well and to an extent, he was really, really good. From the standpoint that my dog teaches me something new about what he understands and likes doing every time we go in the ring, it was a valuable learning experience. From a Q-ing standpoint, it was a bust. No second go-out in Utility and he moved substantially from place on both the long sit and down in Open.

I'm disappointed but not disheartened. I know Phoenix will never be what you might call an "easy" dog in terms of showing and my goals for his obedience career are long-range, not tied to any particular weekend or specific event.

Although I thought we'd conquered his out-of-sight stay demons, they were back in force. However, after thinking about it for nearly 6 hours on the drive home, I have to admit he very cleverly solved the problem of not wanting to stay in a line-up of strange dogs. He carefully took himself out of the lineup by scooting forward (judge said he never lifted his butt) until he was away from the other dogs. Then the judge said then he relaxed and held position, looking fairly comfortable. In his mind, he stayed in the ring and completed the stays.

Although his heeling in both classes left a little to be desired, I was really happy with the rest of his work and the judge complimented me on his fronts and finishes. I think he only missed one. This is huge for us - I know if he is feeling comfortable and in the zone, so to speak, he will work his f and fs.

Sooo . . . we've got 2 weeks until our next trial and I'm working on a game plan for training. A) Do NOT overtrain B) Focus on building drive and effort in heeling, especially with ME being silent C) Many go-outs. Many, many go-outs. D) Stays. Guess who just earned a ticket to do stays with my Thursday night class?

We left Purina about 2:30 p.m. and by the time I dropped my aunt off and drove home, our area was under about every severe thunderstorm and tornado watch and warning the National Weather Service could throw at us. My plan of parking under the big tree in front of the house and letting the dogs run while I unloaded the van was quickly abandoned. One of the local meteorologist said there were over 20,000 lightning strikes last night!

Looking forward to a quiet day at home, unpacking, doing laundry and playing catch-up. And someone really needs to go the grocery store because the Farmer ate everything in this house while I was gone.

I will write about the Purina Events Center sometime soon, too. It really is an amazing facility. And post pics.


  1. Wow! So much and I bet so very exhausted. As long as you had fun (wait to answer till you've got rest - haha) and Phoenix is a good boy! His training reminds me of those push puzzles we had as kids, push down one peg and another pops up!

  2. LOL - he solved his stay problem - no problem. They were just in his personal bubble :-)

    Can't wait to hear about Purina!

  3. Would it help Phoenix if you did something that small dog handlers do? Line him up so he is a little bit behind the other dogs. This way he can see them better and they cannot see him quite as well.

    With a small dog, you just line their butt up with the other dog's butts, and their heads will further back. Every now and then a judge will force one to line their front feet up instead of their back.

  4. MT Waggin, LOL, we are exactly what you described - one thing gets fixed, another one breaks. Ahh, the story of Utility.

    Jennie, I have tried what you described. Problem is (well, one of them) Phoenix wants to be IN FRONT of the other dogs. He seriously wants OUT of the line-up. He would be perfectly happy to stay anywhere else in the ring, just not with a dog on either side of him. It was extra hard at the nationals where he had big, intact males on either side. He was seriously uncomfortable until he moved forward. Then the judge said he visibly relaxed and looked very content to stay.

    If it's not one thing, it's another!

  5. blinkers. you need doggy blinkers.

    or: make the job different. One person I trained with had to retrain open stays after the dogs was attacked (and dog was justifiably very nervous with the open stays). She taught the dog to focus on holding a bottlecap on its head (small dog), and the dog was corrected for letting the bottlecap fall. the bottleneck could fall if the dog moved. But it was all about the bottlecap, not on not moving and not on "oh my god there are dogs right there next to me!!!!" Eventually the tap on the head was the signal to stay, even in the ring, and the dog spent the whole time focusing on not letting the bottle cap fall.

    However, knowing clever dogs like Phoenix, he'd just work out some amazing belgian way of moving without making the bloody thing fall, I'm sure!