An Obedient Dog

Super proud of the baby, Navarre held it together for the obedience fun match over the weekend. I really expected him to be distracted and unimpressed, but he was trying super hard and actually seemed to be having a good time. Maybe not ‘agility’ good time, but still. If he keeps just being able to DO THINGS I may have to finally upgrade him from ‘baby dog’ status. He just keeps getting closer to the magical 4 year mark – it’s a really fun time.

He really hasn’t forgotten anything from his obedience classes as a puppy. I’m really glad he had those experiences, it was a great opportunity to teach him to work in close quarters with other dogs, and to have someone make sure I stayed at least moderately consistent. Ellie did a great job of exposing Navarre to a variety of different situations, even though we haven’t been in her class for like a year, he had the foundation to handle everything and I’m thankful.

So, yes, we have worked on line ups and ring entrances, and we have worked on heeling with a lot of distraction, and we have proofed stays and worked on transitions between exercises. We have trained the exercises too, of course, but I think I didn’t realize we had done so much ‘trial’ proofing already as well. Sneaky Ellie, I never noticed as I was too busy working on getting him into the game, but she was actually teaching obedience – I can’t say I was real focused on that part.

But I had a dog at the match! A dog that was with me and focused and not rolling his eyes at me. I’ll admit I was surprised how relaxed he was and how easy everything seemed to be for him. I was expecting much more drama, but mostly he was happy to be there and happy to show off his behaviors. Nothing was perfect, but I didn’t expect that, I figured our biggest hurdle would be getting the attitude and focus. Go figure.

So we did a Novice and Open run, Novice was first. I’ll admit it’s novel to walk into an obedience ring with a dog that is so relaxed. Haku is many things, relaxed is not one of them. First off, I couldn’t believe Navarre could line up in front the judge without wanting to oogle them. Yes, we have worked on that in his obedience classes, but outside of that, he really likes to say hi to people. But he was all business. His heeling wasn’t bad! It wasn’t as nice as he has been doing in practice, but light years ahead of what he had been doing before we really started working on it recently. Really though, he was happy to heel and I wasn’t dealing with a ridiculous amount of forging or lagging. Our fast is kind of amusing as we have had to work hard to get him to RUN, and now he breaks into this ridiculous floppy canter, but it works. That was my biggest question, could he heel in public for a extended period of time without turning into a forging maniac or just wandering off. Good boy!

Otherwise, the Novice exercises looked good for the most part. No problems with the stand for exam or figure 8, heel off lead was the same as on-lead. His recall … still his worst exercise. This was the only time he felt kind of off, I could feel him getting stiff for this exercise. I don’t know what it is, as he LIKES stays – why the recall wigs him out, I don’t really know. He still did fine, he still ran, but not like he had been doing in practice which was much more loose and happy. So more work to do there. We threw in another recall, and I thought he seemed a little more relaxed, but still not where I want.

Oh, and speaking of stays, we did the new Novice group stays, with back to back lines of dogs. So handlers holding leashes (I do actually own a 6 foot leash!). Navarre finds THIS exercise to be fun, his little tail wags the whole time. And he started sitting pretty on the long sit again. It’s really cute … but I thought we had fixed that. I give him points for improvising, but that would get him eliminated, unfortunately. And other than the sit-up on the stays, he would have qualified in Novice.

As for rewards, I rewarded in between exercises, but mostly with love, and then a quick treat. We did more fun rewards at the end when we did some bonus heeling and recalls. But I think he could have done the whole routine without any food rewards. He very much enjoyed going to get his frisbee afterwards, and after his Open run he dragged me out to find his frisbee again – didn’t take him long to make that connection.

For Open, that one is just a lot longer and more complex. He was having to think a lot more, as we haven’t worked on these exercises in like a year. I was actually pretty darn surprised he did so well – especially the broad jump, which he has a history of WALKING the broad jump – but he not only happily cleared it, he didn’t even do any cutting corners or anything. I was thrilled with that, and his retrieves were good. Fronts were a little off, but how novel not to have to wrestle the dumbbell away from him. Haku liked retrieving a little TOO much …

No issues with the new Open signal exercise, but the drop on recall … yeah, I don’t know what it is about recalls. Our first attempt he was distracted, looking over in the other ring at something (the only time he was really distracted), but even the second attempt he was acting like he had never heard ‘lie down’ before and was just uncomfortable looking. He did it but was highly unconvinced. So, yeah, we will work on it and also experiment if he’d prefer a hand signal instead. You know, it’s not like he’s a herding dog that is used to lying down ALL THE TIME. And this one we have practiced this week.

We do need to work on finishing to the right, which we almost never practice – yet always seems so much smoother to ask for in an actual sequence of behaviors. So he didn’t really recognize the signal or line up real well. We have issues in general of him lining up with his butt behind me – he takes the whole pivot your rear into me thing really seriously.

Still, thrilled with what he gave me, and we tried out some of the exercises I have never done before in a trial, like the stay to get your leash. In Open we tested the stand stay while you get your leash, as I hear that is what they are planning to change to in January. I think with a little polishing we could get through Novice and Open in competition. As in I think he’ll be decently prepared, not that we’ll be setting the obedience world on fire. Fun to play around with, but I don’t have the patience for precision – my main concern is a dog that is enjoying themselves and feels confident with the exercises. We will continue to work on it, but I may actually look at some trials sooner in 2018 if he continues to look good. I was very pleased by his maturity and focus, I’m feeling like he’s ready to give it a try. My baby is all growing up!

There is even some rare obedience video, which is really only interesting to me, but I am really happy with his heeling:

Love my Navarre! His sister just had a litter down in California – with Bright’s brother! And they just happen to be the cutest damn litter, good thing I’m not looking for a puppy. I’ll be ever so curious what they’re like, but at the moment all they are is ridiculously adorable.

Just out of curiosity, I finally made an appointment with the reproduction vet in Wilsonville to get the official status of Navarre’s balls. I’m 98% certain he’s got to be sterile, I can’t imagine those little things actually functioning – but it’s true I’ve never actually asked an expert. So I will, he hasn’t been to the vet since he was a puppy anyway, I think, wouldn’t hurt to have an exam. His appointment is for exam and collection, but I seriously doubt we’ll have to actually collect him to ascertain whether his little grapes could actually do anything.