Monday, December 26, 2016

The Day After Christmas....

How to combat those day after Christmas blues.... (in case you're wondering, yes, that's a poop emoji onesie that I very excitedly received for Christmas this year)

For one thing, do some training!  We've got some goals for 2017 and some of those goals, you know, involve actually getting into the ring and for reals competing.  And the best way to prepare for that is to train for that.

I had today off and after some emailing with my obedience instructor, she mentioned that she had a drop in group class today that I might want to think about popping in for.  So I did.  We went.  It was great for Miley and I.  And we will be going back as often as my work schedule permits.

I've been posting the videos of the controlled distraction training out and about that I've been doing with the dogs.  But what they, mostly Miley at this point, have really been lacking in these scenarios is the distraction of other dogs.  When I'm out and about training, I do tend to shy away from areas where there is higher dog traffic.  For one thing, many people like to let their dogs off leash in really inappropriate areas and I don't want to set my dogs up for a potentially bad situation.  I also don't want to set myself up for a potential confrontation with the owner of the afore mentioned off leash dog.

Even with the on leash dogs, for whatever reason, the size of my dogs tends to draw people who want their dog to "just say hi" to my dogs.  This often happens even when I feel it's pretty obvious that we're in the middle of a training session and I'm ignoring them in favor of working my dog.  I still get people who think I'm the one being rude for not stopping what I'm doing to cater to what they, the random stranger, are asking of me.  No joke.  That one would have to go on the list of things that a lot of people don't tell you about owning a giant breed dog.  But I digress.

Miley and I joined the drop in obedience group class and it was fantastic!  Miley needs this.  Really badly.  For probably the first half hour of the class it was really challenging to get and maintain her attention.  Even with a fair amount of treats in play, she was definitely the most distracted dog in the class.  And I have to admit that she also wasn't behaving all that well in her crate.  The crate misbehaving was in the form of vocalizing, which we were actually having a little bit of a problem with at conformation shows.

On the my bad side of things, I also didn't appropriately warm her up or acclimate her.  She's been in my instructor's training building for years, but this setting was much different than what she was used to and it was blowing her mind.  That was definitely poor prepping on my part to think that I could just walk her into the building, now with other dogs and handlers, and think that she won't miss a beat.

As time went on, she did acclimate and she did learn how to focus while the other dogs were working.  Jill, my instructor, did a fantastic job of setting the class up to provide different levels of distraction for the various dogs, handlers and levels that everyone was at.  And it was in a great safe environment to work on all of this.  Everyone who was there was great and understanding.  I was really energized and excited about the class.  We have a lot to work on, but this will definitely help Miley and I ton!

I did have some pretty proud moments during the class.  As I've mentioned before, I LOVE Miley's left finishes.  The flip finish is something that I've admired when I've seen other people do and it's something that I feel is really right up her alley.  We've worked on it and I've been incredibly pleased with how she's coming along.  Jill had us demonstrate for everyone where we were at with our flip finish and Miley was more than happy to strut her stuff.  Definitely a very rewarding moment for both her and I. :)

We also tried Miley over the broad jump.  She's had some issues with a lack of confidence while jumping, which I've been working on at home (here).  I am very happy to say that she went over the broad jump like it was no big deal!  I was soooooo happy about that!  Bit by bit we're getting that whole package together!

So this year, to combat the inevitable glum feeling I get on the 26th, knowing that I have to wait another 11 months before I get to hit the Christmas bliss button, Miley and I had a blast with a group training class. :)

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