Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pre as demo dog

Pre rode along with us to the Machtig Strom trial, so that I could work him on a new field, and that was a good decision.  When we arrived at the field, I practiced a send away for the bite pillow and did a little heeling. I told the Club that I would like to work Pre as the demo dog, if possible and at first they said someone else would be doing it, but then said I could.  There was only one SchH1 entry so we went opposite them, and I was directed to do the long down first.

Something flipped a switch with Pre, and as we approached the field, he began to load, barking and hopping.  So, when we took our position for the down, he was amped. I recalled that he had been a little squirrely on the down before, and so instead of turning my back to him I stood sideways. When Minna recalled her dog, Pre started to get up on his elbows, turning slightly. I pointed my finger at him and he layed back down.  But I went to him to straighten out his position and let him know that despite being a trial, I could still do that.  This is one of the beautiful things about going as the demo dog. You can't break out in play on the field, but you can make corrections and praise reasonably and surprise the dog that thinks he/she is untouchable in competition.  You let them know that the correction collar might be absent, but you still have your hands.

He was really squirmy on the down and it took me a minute to make sure the position was straight and calm.  It was clear that he wanted to be up and doing something. anything!  It was a very good opportunity, as he had been perfect on in similar practice on his home field.

When we began heeling, he was still cranked up and started barking and jumping as he walked. Unacceptable! I was able to tell him (quietly) "no", and use my hand on his chin to correct the barking.  By the time we made our about turn, he had settled in properly.  He moved nicely through the group and you can see the contrast in attention between the two dogs.  I made a mistake that I will be sure not to do in the future--- instead of taking the figure eight to the left first as I practice and making it corners rather than rounded, I rounded it off and stepped to the right as the dog was still moving forward. I did this with both Pre and Cooper, losing the dog for a moment. It was captured on film and I immediately recognized my fault in the matter.  It was helpful for my learning, as I will most certainly remember to do this properly in the future. It was so ridiculous to find myself doing exactly what I instruct our club members not to do!  So there is my confession!

We did not continue to the moving exercises because the dog opposite us broke on the long down and had lost too many points in obedience to pass so the judge indicated that we could continue if we wished but there was no need.  I decided that it was more important for Pre's training to end with the heeling, and not reward him with exercises that allowed him to run.  He needs to learn to hold himself together, to cap that drive and sustain it calmly.  If he does that, he will be rewarded by continuing to the active portions.

Training-wise, it was a great opportunity to get Pre out in trial conditions and yet be able to make some corrections.  I wasn't able to simulate it well enough to amp him up on the home field, so in order to prepare him for the big trials I plan to attend in 2011, we will travel to other fields to work. He is fully capable of V-rated phases, and that is my goal.