Navarre’s big obedience debut! Haku and London both had their AKC obedience debuts at the big SDTC trial, and now Navarre as well. And all three dogs got their CDs at this trial too! It’s such a nicely run event, they make it feel very special – and ever so close to my house! I’m always surprised that obedience has a bad reputation, I’ve always felt the people were very nice, supportive and welcoming. It was good to see the obedience folks I hadn’t seen since Haku retired, fun to be back.
I was not overly worried about Navarre in the trial atmosphere, we did do a lot of work in obedience when he was younger and he understands that silence = good, he has been working for delayed reinforcement all his life and we have worked a LOT on focus and attention in busy places – as he’s always been pretty outwardly focused. So, yeah, I felt like while our obedience might not be super precise, we could at least handle the environment.
Navarre is such a good boy, and so much more relaxing to work with in obedience than Haku, who you always had to CALM DOWN (funny enough). Navarre finds it kind of fun, but doesn’t go supersonic with excitement. We had never actually done a full routine without any rewards, so he was a little puzzled at the format, but he was trying hard the whole time.
Day one I learned a lot. I knew they had added a ‘get your leash’ stay exercise at the end of novice, and I did watch one run before I went to warm up Navarre. I did not watch it very carefully, apparently! So I almost got us NQd when I skipped having the judge tell me I could go back to my dog after getting my leash on that exercise. Whoops! And then Navarre did his ‘spontaneous kickback stand’ when I told the judge we were ready on the recall exercise, which is an issue he’s had since he was a puppy. So we both lost us some major points, but we squeaked through with a Q for his first attempt!
Still, he was trying really hard, he was only mildly distracted by some partying going on in the other ring, he did great with the atmosphere and never barked once! His heeling was a lot less forgey than it has been, with him being way TOO responsive as I was trying to overhandle a bit (though still plenty forgey!). No problem with the stand and he RAN on his recall – which it took us YEARS to do that, no idea why he always thought that exercise was so stupid. He didn’t sit pretty on his long sit or play dead on the long down! That was my biggest worry, so super happy with that. A big trial, so we were packed in there, with the dogs back to back, like 12 dogs. He took it all in stride though, because he’s an awesome boy.
He was just trying really hard to be correct for ALL the things, which is funny how serious he can take things sometimes. But his tail was wagging and he was happy and having a good time. The only thing he DIDN’T like was being crated in the building, which is something I NEVER do. I don’t think he’s ever seen it before, so he was sort of indignant about that. You really do need to have a crate in the building for obedience though, and he figured it out by the end of the weekend.
Day two we were both feeling a bit more in the game, I at least knew all the exercises now and learned to not say ANYTHING when asked if I were ready for each exercise – I just did the nod and smile. So no spontaneous kick back stands, I didn’t screw up any exercises for not listening to the judge and Navarre was focused and happy the whole time. We ended up with a 196 and third place, I’m pretty sure almost all of our points lost were on forging in heeling, which as he’s doing what we’ve trained to do, I had no complaints with at all. I’m thinking we’ll be back for another trial, and I know we have heeling work to do if we want to improve. But no big stupid mistakes this time, just one really happy Navarre. Though I’ve never been so worried about a dog on a sits and downs, I kept waiting for him to do something weird. Thank god they’re only a minute. No issues though, he’s one very good dog.
Day three, I think we were both a little sloppy. I wouldn’t have entered three days if it wasn’t so close, and I wasn’t feeling pretty optimistic we could finish his CD in a weekend. Much less dogs on Sunday, Navarre was supposed to be third in. We came in the building and it was surprisingly cold, Navarre was sort of bouncy and distracted on our way in, lunging to hug random people. I think he’d had enough with the whole ‘quiet and polite’ thing. So I put up the goofball to get checked in and watching the heeling pattern … and then the first dog leaves almost immediately after entering the ring and the second dog is absent – Navarre is up! Yikes, we go straight from the crate to the ring with zero warm up … and it showed. We had way more goober, he barked on the slow as he was ready for ACTION and he was really cute, but just sort of goofy and playful and not exactly focused on the task at hand. Still, he was having a VERY good time, we still had no problem doing the exercises, just mostly a lot of sloppy heeling and feeling like he wasn’t totally connected. So, lesson learned – warm up your dog, even if you THINK you have 10 minutes!
Stays were fine, yet again – so that was Navarre’s CD title! Super proud of the little booger, I thought he could do it and he honestly seemed to enjoy himself. And now that he did that without drama, that means we at least have to finish his CDX. Then maybe get a UD as well, depending on how things go. He really just needs to be taught a go-out and he’s actually been introduced to everything else. I don’t have any grand ambitions for obedience, and I never have, I’m not much into preciseness. But it’s fun to have a goal to train for, so I think Navarre could do it. We should probably clean up his heeling at least a little though! Proud of my goober puppy though, he did everything I asked him to.
Haku even got to come in and see his obedience peeps, which we TRIED to do without barking … and did not succeed. Oh yeah, the days of constantly trying not to get Haku worked up and whispering everything. Still, crazy how much better his heeling is than Navarre, we had a great time heeling around the rings – he was really happy to be back! Haku really did love obedience, and not many dogs can say that. I briefly considered going back and doing some rally with him, too bad they put a jump in it – which is really lame. And everything in rally is SO CLOSE together, putting a jump in is just mean with a big dog, much less a big dog with ETS.
Meanwhile, we did a bit of herding this week, more shedding. More work on me sorting sheep and spreading them out. Then we even practiced a little by ourselves when we went to babysit puppies at Heidi’s. In the smaller pen Haku could come to hand and then I would send him around the sheep as a reward. He would NOT come to hand in the bigger areas, though he did very well with his square flanks and spreading out sheep. So, more work needed.
And Navarre seems to have forgotten his whistles with Ian, as they haven’t used them in weeks. I should work on them, but I’m not super motivated to do so. I did practice that stupid away whistle in the car this week when I didn’t have dogs for once, but I still can’t reliably do it, even it practice. I think I would have been a terrible clarinet player.
Finally, entered Navarre in his next agility trial at 24, so we’ll see how that experiment goes. Practiced at the arena and I started with a set-point exercise to re-introduce him to the height (we haven’t done for it a long time). He ran under the jump like 5 times! But once he finally realized that the bars were higher, his jumping seemed comfortable. Just … wider. Because that’s just what he needs! So we’ll keep practicing and see how it goes at the trial if we want to play with it this year or not.
Oh, and Dove puppies continue to grow. They had JUST started opening eyes when I puppysat this week, which is not the cutest age. But by next week they should be interacting and looking like tiny drunken dogs. Right now they’re squinty potatoes, well GIANT squinty potatoes – big puppies run in the family!