It’s funny how everything always seems better in Europe. I’m pretty sure it’s not some magic utopia, but sometimes it certainly seems that way. At least in the world of dogs, they seem to have a much more balanced view. They seem to be more responsible owners, are able to keep their dogs intact and not have huge overpopulation issues, and they seem to have much better breeding programs. It seems so easy to find a thoughtfully bred dog in Europe, without all the drama we have over here. Certainly helps that, once again, most dogs are intact over there and people actually have breeding rights on their dogs. Yet somehow they seem not to breed things willy-nilly, and actually care about testing and genetic issues in the lines and producing sane dogs. It’s so novel. Probably not as ideal as it seems from the other side of the internet though. Probably.
Europe also seems to have such a higher quality of sports as well, I watch them do obedience and, wow, so much fun! Then you watch US obedience and, well, not so much fun going on. Such different training methods and attitudes, I’d love to train with some of these folks in Europe, so inspiring as to what obedience COULD be. And, of course, we all seem to think that Europe has much better agility. And it certainly seems like the caliber of the average agility competitor is much higher there than it is here. And a lot of that has to do with the competitions. You train for the level that is set at a trial, and the level seems way higher over there. Crazy amount of talented dogs and handlers, and it is an actual competition. Yet, I also know because it is way more competitive there than it is here that I’m sure a large majority of dogs wouldn’t make it in a more competitive environment. I do love that ALL dogs can be successful in agility in the US. Still, how inspiring would it be to compete on that level at trials. I know why people always want to go to Europe to compete, we literally do not have that type of competition anywhere in the states.
So trying to feel inspired by watching european obedience lately. Haku and I have been struggling to find something to progress with. I get stuck feeling like if I want more precision from Haku I have to take away enthusiasm, and I don’t want to do that. So we are just stuck doing the same thing in obedience, kind of badly but at least in a very happy way. But we don’t have any goals and we’re not actively working on anything – and Haku NEEDS to have things to work on. But, admittedly, precision is just not his thing, never has been. He gets worried and frantic and I don’t like it – and he doesn’t either. So it’s a balancing act, and one I need to figure out a plan for us to continue to have an active goal we’re working towards.
It would help if Haku actually learned in a linear method, but he never has. Practicing, even good, focused, deliberate practice, never actually results in Haku’s performance improving. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. You really do have to sneak up and take a very roundabout route when training Haku – and have faith that just magically he’ll one day sort of do it. But not soon. And know that he’ll then forget it again, and we’ll have to sneak up on it again. He’s an interesting guy to train, that’s for sure. And I’ll admit that this can make me a horribly sloppy trainer when working with Haku, as I know that being a GOOD trainer actually DOESN’T HELP. Still, the process is what we need, so going to work on adding some fun and active obedience practice to our routine. Just because it probably won’t actually make us any more accurate is no reason not to have fun anyway. 😉
Meanwhile, Bright and Navarre are happy to be back in agility. Bright seems much more focused and, well, relaxed about it all. Maybe a new agility Bright? We’ve been having fun and no particular skills she seems to be struggling with at the moment. Her threadles and backsides are looking good, she seems to really recognize the cues these days. Again, I suppose. Thinking about moving her 16 in USDAA next year. She’ll be 7, and why not? We have no big goals, she’ll just get to go faster. 22 has never seemed like an issue for her at all, but we have nothing to prove.
Navarre continues to struggle with extension to collection. He CAN do it, but the first time through a sequence I’ll often cue the collection and move on and he doesn’t collect AT ALL. While before he was often somewhat wide, he was still TRYING. This isn’t even trying. So then we’ll run it again and he’ll usually actually respond. But the first time is when you really want them to actually respond. We have continued to only reward from my hand with the tug. He’s been enjoying that. I can’t say it’s actually made any difference, but he does have 2 years of thrown toys already imprinted. Running away and tugging is way more work for the handler though, I can tell you that.
I should see about getting Navarre to an obedience match to see what he looks like. When he’s focused his obedience is not looking half bad. He’ll never have Haku’s enthusiasm … but Haku’s enthusiasm is pretty ridiculous. Navarre is just by nature a laid back guy, but he seems to enjoy obedience these days. Mostly. He’s much better at the new Open exercise than Haku – but then, I actually taught him his positions correctly! I’ve already learned to accept that Haku will be moving forward on his position changes. He just does! It’s not bad though, I don’t even think it’s scoreable, he just comes forward into his stand, even though he CAN kickback, he doesn’t. And Navarre has a lovely transition from sit to down, he kicks back into a stand before folding back down. Navarre does not actually have a stand cue though, so we need to work on that …
I think maybe THIS time we’ve officially moved on from Summer. It made a surprise re-appearance this week that I did not enjoy. But hiking today it was raining and 60 degrees and we were all so happy. It’s not even muddy … yet. Give it time.
Oh, I entered Haku in some agility! They’re offering a tunnelers class at the USDAA trial in October, so he’ll get to play in that. Hopefully he’ll have fun, love that dog. We’re doing a lot of agility in October, but it’s usually the perfect time of year for it. And then we’re probably going to cap it off with some obedience the end of the month as well. Which I haven’t entered yet, because it doesn’t sound nearly as much fun. But it’s inside, clean and climate controlled – novel. And Special Haku Time is always special. After October, we shall see – I’ll bet we’ll be ready for a break at that point …