We did work on his back up at front position, because losing points at the rally trials for that is silly! I made a channel of two broad jumps for Ein and as I expected, he learned pretty quickly! Lots of butt bumping at first but he is picking up the muscle memory to go straight back. As usual, he is throwing his "all" into it and flies backwards with a big goofy smile on his face. Walking backwards is good for his fitness, too! (this is even one of Perri's rehab exercises.)
Dumbbell work happens here and there. We have a good hold going, and that was a major breakthrough for him to be calm about that, but Ein is stalled out at learning that he can move and hold the DB all at the same time. He has his chin target and nose target but it has been almost impossible to get him to even shift his weight at all while doing a hold. He has not grasped the concept yet that he can do a nose touch while he is holding the object. I am confident that he will have a lightbulb moment about this little roadblock when we have more time to train consistently.
Our next project is a little incredible to me. Completely driven by Ein's attitude for work and newfound confidence in the ring, I believe we are going to try AKC Obedience and work towards Ein's Companion Dog title.
I feel great about Ein's heeling, his stays and his recall. We are going to attend some matches for sure. I have been progressing both at rally practice and trials towards single cues (for example, you are permitted to say "Finish" as well as a hand gesture simultaneously in Rally. But not in Obedience.) Ein is adjusting to this with zero issues.
Except one little thing, you might say. There's one exercise you haven't mentioned. The Stand for Exam. And the stand for exam is the one thing that may keep us out of the Obedience ring. When Ein earned his CDSP Companion Dog, his SFE was not pretty. Ein is very hand-shy and I just threw him into it with little of the understanding that I have now about building up to the exercise. (Oh, how much I have learned in just two years.) We NQd one time for severe shyness, and our three Qs all involved me giving him a stern repeat "Stay" command. His title leg he cringed away so badly that we probably deserved to NQ.
That's not going to be how we will roll this time. I have been working on Ein's stand-stays already. Just working on the stand-stay-leave dog all on it's own and building value into that. Last night we took it on the road. We went to Petsmart on our way to Perri's UWTM session.
Let me take a time out here and point out that in year's past, we could not go into Petsmart. Ein would freak out on the slippery floor. His entire body would be shaking in fear, whipping his head from person to noise to person and pouring drool. He would pin himself along the aisles as if the very earth was going to fling him away if he did not ground himself.
Me and this same dog walked into Petsmart and I waited for him to engage with me. He had that spooky look in his eye at first but it wasn't long before he engaged with me. Cheese. Less spooky but still worried. More offered engagement. More cheese. And then he couldn't take his eyes off me. He wanted to work and he was smiling. And so it begins. We worked on his stand stays like we do at home, with formality, and he was a champ. The only thing he had trouble with was my return to heel position. (Not an issue at home, but the stress of being somewhere new produced it.) I gave him two tries but he kept breaking his stay. We took a little break and worked on long stays (he was awesome.) and a wee bit of heeling (more awesome.) and then returned to the stand-stay. I broke down the chain of the return and rewarded him for holding his stay on my approach and worked my way to his side and yo-yo'd back to front...and we were able to have a handful of successful stand-stay-leave dog-return to dogs before we left. One his final stand stay, an employee came behind me and began stocking some wet dog food. She apologized to me and I said it was no problem without turning to look at her. I did not ask Ein to do hold duration, just waited a second or two after her approach and returned to him and rewarded him. We are not ready for human distractions just yet!
So, I'm excited! I would never be able to make time to drive Ein to stores and work on this, but he can easily come along to Perri's rehab and I can make a pit stop and work for 5-10 minutes with him. And he loves it. There are quite a few dog friendly stores on our drive to Perri's appointment, so we will have a variety of locations.
I never considered AKC Obedience with Ein, because he used to worry so badly in the ring. Any ring: AKC/WCR rally, matches, CDSP, rally-o class. But he is consistently happy and focused in the ring now, that I'm willing to try to conquer the Stand For Exam. And there is even a class on Fenzi Dog Sport Academy starting in December focusing on just this exercise. Awesome! We are in.