Sunday, August 4, 2013

Obedience Match @ K9Gym

Perri and I went to an Obedience match today and it was a great measure of both progress and areas to work on!  This is incredibly detailed and likely boring to anyone but me - but I want to have our day recorded.

The Gym was busy busy, with three rings going at once and lots of commotion.  Perri was happy to take some treats, but she also wanted to watch what was going on around her.  I got her tug toy out because the world always stops for that toy when we have agility class.  It was like she didn't even see it.  Perri was stressing.  I tried to get her to play with the beloved Squeaky Tennis Ball - no response.  My heart dropped a little, there was no way that I would get her to heel in the ring.  She was too worried.

At the K9 Gym match, you are given three minutes of ring time to do as you please.  I chose the standard AKC Novice routine of course.  And since this is a fun match, you are permitted toys and treats in the ring.   I put a few Bil Jacs in my pocket and her tennis ball in my back pocket and in we went.  

For the most part I kept the treats in my pocket and rewarded at halts.  I wanted to see how Perri would do with heeling.  I made sure to keep my shoulders straight and a brisk pace.   No lagging on the heel on leash, and she was looking at me nearly the entire time!  When we were told "Exercise Finished", I pulled the tennis ball out of my pocket and threw it for her.  She came alive!  Prancing around after her ball and waggy tail.  
I was so grateful that I had chosen to do the match in that moment - I was going to make the ring FUN for Perri!

The Figure 8 was also good!  There was some lag when Perri wanted to sniff somebody, but she caught up quickly (I kept my shoulders squared and full steam ahead, I was so worried that she would cut around to my other side.   But I resisted the temptation to stop and beg her to come with me other than a quick "With Me!")   It paid off.  We survived the figure 8 and with both sits-at-halts.

Next was the Stand for Exam and that was just fine.  No paw wiggle, no broken stay.  I was sure to not look at her when I returned to her - that has caused broken stays for Perri in the past.

The Heel Free was great as well, with some lag on the Fast Pace (though she caught up with me once "Normal" was called.) 

Next is our favorite, the recall and of course recalling towards the steward table and other rings.  I left Perri in her sit and turned around.  She twitched a little but corrected herself.  She almost anticipated!  I waited a few seconds and then called her front with no hand signals - just as I would in the ring.  Perri flew to front, slightly crooked but with enthusiasm.  I finished her with hand signal only, no verbal - as I would in the ring.  She was quick about it!

I had a few extra seconds on my time, so I asked to repeat the recall.  It was exactly the same: fast recall, crooked front and good finish.  

And of course after each exercise, we had a little fun session with the squeaky tennis ball.  And a schmoozing session with the judge to finish off our time.  It was beyond good for Perri to have a successful and enjoyable time in the ring.

Group exercises were excellent.  I try not to even look at Perri during group stays but when I did she was looking regal and without a thought of breaking in her mind.  Stays are something that Perri has been pretty good at - I think that with her low confidence she is happy to remain in a stay since she knows that she is doing the right thing.   Who knows.  

I am learning what to do when Perri stresses.  I am learning how to make things fun for her.  It felt great to see that Perri was stressing before we went into the ring, but that we could turn that around as a team and be successful and have fun.
The fact that Perri's confidence is improving was very clear today.  I don't think that she stopped once in the ring to sniff the ground (except during the long down, after I gave her a treat.)
I think that good heeling on the Fast Pace will come with time and continued heelwork with ST's method.  We need to fix those crooked fronts, but I know we will.  

Four, count 'em, FOUR Obedience shows in a 4-day September Cluster in my area in mid-September.  Will we be ready?  Probably!  Maybe!  Can I resist entering them?  Not likely.


  1. Go Perri! That is awesome!

    And reading the recap was not boring at all. :)

    1. It was a really cool moment and made me feel comfortable that she *is* progressing :)
      You must bring Pongu to a match show at K9Gym sometime, they do a great job. I love how they allow you to customize the ring time to your needs. I could have gone in there and played ball with Perri for three minutes and that would have been just fine.