Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Progress - Just In Time?

Last weekends ADAA trial was good. For the first time in a while I felt really positive about Sonic’s performances. ADAA have created their own NFC (Not for Competition) entry that waaay surpasses our own WA created ANKC NFC entry. You basically enter the class as normal but when you go up to the start line you let the judge know if you want to run as NFC. You can pick any class you want on the night. It’s up to you whether you run the set course or do your own thing for the duration of the standard course time. You can also take a toy into the ring to reward your dog, as long as the toy isn’t thrown. How awesome is that!

So my plan with Sonic for the night was to pick a couple of agility classes to run as NFC. I wanted to run them as if we were competing but if he performed a contact particularly well or drove hard through his weavers I wanted to be able to reward him with his toy. Or on the other extreme, if he didn’t hold a contact I wanted to be able to put him back on. I’d actually been working through some distraction training and proofing on the contacts the couple of weeks before so it ended up being all about me being able to reward his performances.

The brilliant thing that happened is that you could see his confidence grow every time he got his toy for doing great weavers or hitting a great contact. I’ve taught him to tug while still in two on two off position so that came in really handy as well. His runs still need a lot of work and handling skills are a work in progress but he was confident, fast and happy so I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. I also thought that I handled him better than I have in ages. With our State trial this weekend and the Nationals two weeks away it gives me some small semblance of hope that they will go OK….

Sonic and Axl also had their first attempt at running an ADAA teams event together. Mmmmmmm, was an interesting experience! Simone ran the course with Axl first and he was great, powering around with a perfect clear run. While Axl was running Sonic was getting more and more wound up. I couldn’t get him to sit at all and when Axl came past to do a couple of obstacles Sonic wanted to go and chase him off. Somehow I managed to get him back and then it was time for our half of the course…. Well, he may have been with me in body but definitely not in mind. Somehow I managed to get him around the course clear after about five almost-off-courses. Poor Simone having to watch, it would have been horrible! Axl and Sonic are entered in Novice Strategic Pairs at the Nationals so the moral of that story is that Simone and I need to get Axl and Sonic used to working close together otherwise that may not be very pretty or fun experience. Both are highly charged “get dat damn utha dog offa my course” kind of boys.

We have a massive few weeks of trialling ahead. I'm really looking forward to getting on with it all. It feels like the last Nationals was forever ago. You spend so much time getting your dogs and yourself prepared for these things that now I just want to do it!

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