Last week he was off the charts stressy. He did do the directed jump exercise that we struggle with so much (twice!) but otherwise he was lagging, blowing off sits at halts (or laying down) and sniffing sniffing sniffing. On the "Signals" sign he did his normal creeping out of the down and breaking his stay instead of sitting up at my signal. (we owe two Level 3 NQ's to that bad habit.) I was really baffled and discouraged by his behavior. Our instructor even suggested that it doesn't seem like he knows that I want him to move off with me when we heel. Ouch. She also suggested that I need to be extremely, extremely clear when I signal Ein and to support him. Truth.
I spent the week gently working with him (not drilling.) just on heeling. When I move my leg forward, I throw a treat out. Ein quickly learned that as soon as my leg moves, he can expect a treat to be out ahead of him. I also took him for some short walks around my neighborhood. Ein doesn't get out of the house as much as the girl dogs do, we don't do regular walks anymore and he often turns me down for hiking. He is becoming an agoraphobic corgi! In fact, the last few times he has been out of the house was tossed in the car and taken to a trial. So I focused on some light hearted strolls with plenty of opportunity to Pee On Stuff (favorite activity.)
With Ein, I can never tell if anything is actually helping him or if it is coincidence. But tonight's class he was pretty much on fire! He did the signal exercise two times, flawlessly. I supported him at each halt by asking him to sit instead of expecting it. I don't like that step backwards but I am listening to my dog, and this is what my dog needs. Tonight's course did not have the directed jump exercise, but we improvised instead of doing the Recall Over Jump. It was weird and there were signs in our path since it was not part of the original course, so Ein was confused on my first send. He got it the second time we walked the course though. The bonus exercise was Stand With Distraction. This went very well. The second time we walked the course I asked the instructor to do an Obedience SFE on him and actually touch him. He stayed! No paws moved! I did give him a reminder "Stay" command and I am at peace with that. Again, I am willing to do what makes my dog successful.
A wake up call exercise that we had in our course tonight was the Offset Figure 8 (with food bowls containing distraction items like food or toys.) Now, I haven't forgotten that this sign existed. But I sort of did. I have not seen this sign in a course since Ein's very first Level 2 leg back in March! Ein gets scared of the food bowls. Don't ask me why. He eats his food from a food bowl! He walks around cones just fine. But those food bowls stress him out. So, between now and his trial in two weeks, we will be doing more work on Figure 8 pattern walking around many objects, not just food bowls or cones. Who knows if this exercise will be at our trial, but I don't want to leak points out due to not being prepared and of course I want to help Ein be more comfortable.
We had a lot of fun tonight and I was very proud of Ein. I don't know why he was so down on working at the training center last week but he certainly has come back to his normal self. We did what we set out to do, had some fun playing Rally-O.
Biggest question of all: Will we get that RL3 in 2013? Will we ever get it??