So I am sure you may have guessed that since I haven't posted that Gali didn't pass on Friday. He worked hard but came up short on his second go-out and in Gali's defense he was short by inches. However it was a fail. He did his jumps, he did his signals. His articles were quite nice and his heeling was very good, some bumps on left turns. He did struggle with his fronts; he really wanted to fade off to the side, which is unusual for him. What made me a little sad was to see him get stressed. He walked in on his moving stand and I think he walked in on his first article. He wasn't jumping up on his start ups. All of these things made me decide that I am going to call it quits. For now or forever I am not sure, but I am going to stop and concentrate on Ribbon. In my heart I can't come to terms with asking him to do this if he is struggling because of his eyesight. Throughout his career Gali has always been and an honest, happy go lucky dog and I just can't take that from him because I want to put some letters in front of his name.
I have had a chance to go through my videos of Ribbon's first weekend out and have come up with a plan for training for the next two weeks leading up to the two trials I have her in on Father's Day. She routinely got distracted and fell out of position on the last about turn. I have been working on heeling into barriers and have people call commands for me. One thing my friend Kelly noticed tonight was that Ribbon seemed confused between whether she should stop or turn when I heeled really close up to a chair. My reaction was to slow down my steps and let her make the decision to complete the turn and praised like crazy when she made eye contact (and was also back in position). Kelly's opinion was she thought Ribbon wasn't getting a big enough cue to turn. So we repeated the exercise and I cued by looking about 6 inches outside my right foot (usually I look at the baby toe of my right foot). This made all the difference in the world. Ribbon accelerated into the turn, maintained eye contact and gave me lovely heel position. We repeated the same drill heeling towards a wall and had the same result. Thanks Kelly!
This morning in my Novice class (Susie teaches so that I can train my dog in a class environment) we did run throughs and one of the things Susie thought I was doing was taking too long a stride on my slow and she thought that Ribbon was bumping me because she had to reach so far forward on each step. When I tried the slow again and focused on a more controlled stride length I got a much smoother transition from normal to slow and from slow to normal. Thanks Susie!
During my run through I did have to deal with Ribbon making some bad decisions about looking away and going wide on some turns. With Ribbon I do a freeze correction, which means that I stop and hold her in the position she shouldn't be in and then ask her to return to proper position, praise and then continue. She usually has several steps on being unsure of continuing and then regains her confidence and continues on in position. At that point I praise her and or reward with food.
My goal for these last two Novice trials is to go for a HIT. I have one male and one female judge and I am excited about getting her back out there and learning more about how to best handle her and develop our teamwork!
Tomorrow my training will include Chad calling commands for me, more work on stand for exam, putting into play the things I learned today and mixing it up with some Open and Utility exercises.