I have some obedience related updates to give for the week that I am behind on! Monday we had our private lesson with our wonderful instructor! I brought both dogs along. It was really neat being able to work both of them. She had me work on some heeling stuff with Heffner and we got him so animated and cute looking! He was happily heeling along like a prancing pony. It was super cute! She took him around the ring for a little bit to show me specifically what she was shooting for with him so that I could see what she meant and it was so neat to see him do that. He also did quite well going around with someone that he's only seen twice.
I brought the big soft crate along so that I wouldn't have to run back and forth to the truck to switch out dogs. Bess was good with a few moans here and there. That's that thing about Bess, she doesn't whine, she moans and groans. Personally, I find it hilarious! It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, it usually makes me laugh. Heffner whined off and on throughout the time that I worked with Bess. We worked some slightly different exercises with Bess, but also worked on some more animated heeling. I really like having a dog heeling next to me who seems ecstatic about it. It's just so cute!
Pretty much all of the exercises are coming along nicely. Our finishes however, totally suck and I REALLY need to hammer those home and practice them multiple times a day. Guess that'll be a big part of the five a day training schedule!
Tonight was our group obedience practice and I decided to bring both dogs along. I kept Heffner out in the truck and Bess in her soft crate inside. Heffner was incredibly distracted tonight. I can honestly say that he did worse on all of the exercises tonight than he did the very first time I brought him to that facility. I have a feeling that it something to do with the fact that I brought both of them, kept him in the truck, and then when I brought him in he saw Bess in the crate. He just kept gawking at her. These past few weeks his automatic sits have been coming along soooo nicely! Tonight they went completely out the window! It was seriously crazy.
Bess on the other hand was a freaking rock star! She was so ON! Her heeling both on and off leash was awesome. We had some of the best and tightest about turns that we've ever had. Her automatic sits are fantastic. She has the habit of lagging a bit when we're doing the figure eight and she's on the outside of the turn. I really need to work on that. Otherwise, she did AWESOME! I was originally going to work Heffner on the group stays because he needs it more than Bess, but with how incredibly distracted he was tonight, I didn't feel like ending on what was probably going to be a frustrating note. Once again, Bess totally rocked her stays!
And here's the biggy that's been soooo on my mind. We are registered for the big great dane specialty in Lodi, CA on May 1st and 2nd. This is the only specialty "in our area" that actually has obedience as part of the specialty. They're only holding it on the 1st, but still, that's HUGE! Neither of the specialties in OR or WA hold obedience trials at the shows. And the Lodi specialty is a stand alone specialty. It's not held in conjunction with an all breed show at all. I've heard great things about how much fun the show is in general and I figured it would be a great way for us to sort of test the waters for what it's going to be like to drive to Arkansas in October for the national specialty. So I bit the bullet and entered the dogs. In both rally and obedience. Here's the kicker. We're not ready for obedience. **hysterical laughing** However, I REALLY want to support a great dane specialty outside of the national that will go through the added cost of holding a rally and obedience trial in conjunction with the conformation show. So I entered regardless.
I feel pretty good about the rally portion. After all, we're only in novice. I feel pretty confident that I can pull off the final leg of the rally novice title for both dogs on that day. Bess for sure won't have problems. Heffner will probably get a bit distracted, but I'm going to be ready for that and I'm bringing stuff down with me to hopefully getting him more focused on me prior to going into the ring. Oh yeah, and the show is outside. Yep, LOTS of distractions!
And then there's obedience. I'm having a lot of fun with it with both dogs. However, we honestly aren't to the point where I would normally feel comfortable trialing them. We still have so many things to fine tune. So I'm going to treat it as a fun match and just hope for the best. I am not terribly confident that Heffner will qualify. I have a feeling that's going to be the class that he may lose the most focus on me and we'll rack up the point deductions. But I'm fine with that. I have a realistic perspective on the whole thing going into this. Whatever score we get, it will be a learning experience and it'll be good for us both regardless.
I do have to say thought, after Bess performance tonight, I'm almost willing to say she's ready. If you totally disregard our lack of good finishes on either side. Otherwise, I have a feeling that her run will go better than Heffner's.
You may be wondering how I'm going to work the group stays. Yes, both dogs are entered in Novice A with me as the handler. However, you need one handler per dog. I'm working on that. I will handle Heffner because there are few people that I could hand him off to and expect that he would perform for them at least as well as he would for me. None of those people will be at the specialty. Bess however, is a much more forgiving dog. And there are plenty of people there that she's met before. And she's more solid on her stays than Heffner. So I'm not totally stressed about handing her off to a friend.
So yeah, things are interesting. Having the Lodi specialty looming in two weeks really lights my fire with regards to training. Neither of the dogs is at a point where I feel that it would be an embarrassment to go into the ring with them. They just won't be as polished as I would like for them to be at our first trial. But I understand that going in and I think it'll fun either way. So here goes!