Today was our obedience lesson and since I'm working a split shift as well, I have time to write about it while it's still fresh in my mind! But first, I have videos of Heffner's runs on Saturday!!! Thank you so much Kennedy!!!
First up his Novice FAST run:
Next is our Novice JWW:
And finally our Novice Standard run:
You can see how slow he was going towards the end. Our missed entry into the chute was definitely him just getting tired and not feeling like working those muscles to crouch down. When I was looking at this, I'm now wondering if I was compounding his slowness by me not moving very fast either. It's kind of like the compounding effect of slow heeling in obedience. Your dog slows down so you slow down, which causes your dog to slow down more, and on, and on. So many things to tweak and play with! I'm now starting to think that I should be trying to video our runs in our agility class so that I can watch what I'm doing in practice as well. I will DEFINITELY be renting barn time this summer to work on all of this!
And now on to obedience! As always, we all had a really good time. I have so many ideas on what I need to work on with each dog. And yes, I did bring Bess and she got her turn. I had emailed our instructor letting her know what Bess came down with and that she was fine, but I just had to watch for her acting like she was getting out of breath. She did very well and definitely enjoyed herself and had no problems breathing wise.:o)
He definitely does better on his sits and in general when he gets worked on a regular basis. With everything that was going on with Bess, my chaotic work schedule last week, and then the agility trial this weekend, I didn't work him much at all. So I wasn't terribly surprised that his sits were more crooked than they had been. I need to make a conscious effort to treat him out of my left hand and hold it a little ways out from me to keep that big butt in. We still need to do lots of halts along walls and solid structures. When we're heeling, even though his head is turned in and he's nose bumping me, he does a good job of staying in heel position. When we slow down or halt, that butt pops right out.
We're also starting to work more on getting him to finish (right and left) with me minimizing my body movement. For the left finish, I need to not exaggerate my movements so much and work on keeping him tighter to my body. A front pivot would be more ideal and that's the mental image that I'm sort of striving for. For the right finish, I need my arm movement to be not as exaggerated and to still keep it relatively slow. He gets it better when I slow down the movement more. I've sped things up more for Bess because she's really caught on to it, and I just need to have a different pace for him.
We're also going to be working on getting him to read my left shoulder specifically better. The end result is that when I drop that left shoulder back, he should automatically start backing up. To get to that point, I'm going to practice backing him up around corners of solid structures. That way it's not just a straight backing up which doesn't require a whole lot of body reading from him.
The other thing that I need to work on with him has to do with our fronts. I need to wean both dogs off of the cue of both of my hands at my chest to cue them to get in closer. To do this, I'm going to have treats in both of my hands and my mouth. I will hold both of my arms straight out to my sides and then tell him to watch me. As soon as he makes eye contact, he gets a yes and a treat. It'll be easier to get him in closer and maintain eye contact when I'm spitting food at him. But the arms are there to help proof it. I can do this with him in a sitting position, or if he's running out of juice on holding his sits, then he can do it from a down and I'll crouch down.
We didn't focus on it necessarily so much this lesson, but I do need to remember to work on her maintaining eye contact with me when we start our heeling patterns. She originally liked to dip her head and look towards the floor when we would start. She's gotten a lot better and maintains more eye contact when we start now. I just need to practice it more to get her closer to 100%.
With Bess I'm going to be pickier about how she sits when we halt and pretty much any where. I want her in a nice tight heel position because she can do it. When she's out of ideal heel position, I give her the "get in" command with my little hand cue and she scoots her butt into ideal position. When she does this, she gets a "yes" and a treat.
While we were doing some heeling patterns, our instructor pointed out that I have the habit of holding both of my hands at my waist instead of letting my right arm hang freely at my side. While it's okay to do that in novice, after that my right arm needs to hang freely. As a result of my habit of doing this with Bess especially, she has come to expect my arm to be there and is a little thrown off when I tried a heeling pattern "cold turkey" with my hand at my side. The plan is to bring my right hand up to my left hand on turns to keep her in tight and "reassure" her that she's doing what she's supposed to be doing and I'm not expecting something else. Once the turn is completed, my right arm drops back down to my side. When we did some heeling patterns like this, she did much better. So I have to slowly wean her off of my right arm.
Overall with both dogs, I need to also stop using their names so much when giving commands. I want to save their responsiveness to their names for a trial setting where they're more likely to be distracted and need that little reminder to pay attention to what is about to follow.
This weekend there's an obedience and rally match going on at the fairgrounds that are near our house. Our obedience club is putting on the obedience match and I'm heading over early to help set up. I also want to try and score a nice spot in the shade for the soft crate. My plan right now is to bring Bess and enter her in both obedience and rally. Depending on the weather and how things are going, I MIGHT bring Heffner over and do the same with him. We only live a couple of miles from the fairgrounds so it's incredibly easy for me to run one dog home and pick up the other one. It just depends. There's a conformation match in the afternoon that I had originally planned to not enter Bess in, but I might just go ahead and do it. I'm going to be sticking around any how to meet a harl dog that I may be helping to show depending on a few things. We'll see!