To be honest, I've been really hesitant about doing any obedience work with the dogs because I wasn't sure that I could hack it as their handler. In my mind, I wasn't really sure that I could be as precise as was necessary to compete in obedience. It's a totally different mind set than agility, conformation, or anything else that we do! I really admire those who can compete and do well with their danes at the upper levels of obedience because I know it's not easy! I have been told that Rally is the best venue to start in because it's not quite as demanding and precise as Obedience. So that's what we're shooting for! I really feel that it well help to make my dogs better rounded and hopefully help me to be a better handler in general!
Today we attended a Rally Obedience seminar and fun match. The event was being held at a mini horse stable, and naturally I had to snap a few pictures of the dogs there!
It was a really nice facility! And thankfully we were in a covered area because it started pouring down rain shortly after the seminar started. Along with the rain came some lovely thunder and lightening. Neither one of my dogs have a problem with thunder and lightning, so they got to hang out in the truck. Which incidentally, one of the back tires has a slow leak in it and it almost went completely flat while there! Luckily, the owner of the stable had an air compressor and was able to reinflate my tire! Made for a slightly tense drive home though (I live pretty close to the facility, so it was a relatively short drive).
After the seminar there was a pot luck lunch of all sorts of yummy foods! Then it was time to get down to the business of the match. I was able to coerce two people into video taping me with the dogs so that I could later look back over it. The first filmer was a nice bystander who was there with his wife. The second filmer was my friend Andrea who was there with her adorable bull mastif, Brody. They've already got their RN and are gearing up for the advanced level!
The first video is of Heffner. Yes he does have a gentle leader on. And no, you cannot compete in AKC Rally Obedience with that on. I believe that I actually can't have him wearing it even around the ring when we're competing. I had it on him just because he can sometimes be a bit reactive to other dogs and I wanted to make sure that I could maintain his focus. Remember, we've NEVER done any formal obedience work so I was a bit aprehensive!
All-in-all I think it went pretty well. I have a better understanding of the different signs and how running a course works. I was actually really pleased with how Heffner did!:o) My expectations were a little bit higher for Bess. She was definitely more distracted than he was and wasn't terribly thrilled about going into a down. Well, at least we know what to start working on!
I talked to our agility instructor on Tue. night about the obedience work and we're going to use her as our instructor. She competes with collies in Rally and Obedience, but has a preference for Rally. It won't be an every week thing like agility is. That's just too much of a hit on the pocket book for me to be able to do all of the various lessons and still compete in everything with both dogs! I've also found a few drop in Rally classes and there are periodically fun matches like this that will definitely help us. And thankfully, I've also got other blogs to read about people competing with their dogs in the different obedience venues, so that should be helpful as well. It's kind of exciting to try something new!