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A few weeks ago I learned that a local dog training center offered rally and obedience run thrus twice a month.  As I entered Zora and I in our first rally competition in just a few short weeks, I figured it might behoove me to actually show her a rally course before you know showing up at a trial.  So my ever patient and supportive spouse gave up his afternoon of Sunday football to take us.  Such a sweetie.  He even videoed.

Zora has been to this training center once before, last year sometime.  Our agility club had a meeting there that we attended.

Going into it I wanted to

  1. Get a chance to review the signs more clearly and gain feedback on the execution of the rally signs from others more experienced.
  2. Observe how our at-home obedience practice transfers to a fairly novel environment.
  3. Observe how Zora handled having a “judge” with us in the ring, as obedience/rally judging presence is much more involved than agility judging presence in the ring.
  4. Introduce Zora to the idea of ‘signs are not obstacles to be performed’ as I anticipated her viewing the signs as something to actively do, since all of her prior ring experience has been agility where the stuff in the ring is something actively to do.
  5. Find as many holes in our skills as possible.

We did 2 run thrus and I gained a lot of very valuable feedback

  1.  Zora did awesome.  It’s so nice to have a dog that generalizes skills so well and fairly effortlessly.  I mean I did a lot when she was a pup to support that, but reality is she naturally is a dog that generalizes rather well.  It definitely is a nice trait.
  2. I need to really practice clarifying for her that when we are doing formal heeling it is always a sit at halt, as she tends to offer a down 50% of the time.  Which is not surprising prior to a month ago, I almost always reinforced a down.
  3. I struggle to walk in straight lines.  Shocking, I know.  It’s a known problem for me, though better since I went through OT a few years ago.  I waffle to the left and to the right, cutting into her or moving erratically away from her.  I need to remember to pick a focal point ahead and move toward it, don’t look away from my focal point.  I’m getting much better about this with general heeling, but apparently when there are signs in rally I forget.  Something to practice!
  4. It is always a good idea to introduce moves to my dog ahead of time.  *cough*  left about turns *cough cough*
  5. 6′ leashes are royal PITA!  Too much leash!  But a requirement for Novice Rally so I’ve got to review my 6′ leash handling skills and get better!
  6. Zora struggles at being bored.  Sitting around waiting her turn without her crate, yea a challenge.  Next time I either need to bring her crate in, plan to keep her entertained (which I did this time, we practiced a lot of dumbbell hold skills), or better yet practice her down stays and doing nothing for extended periods of time skills.  Training stays has not been my forte.  Gee, I wonder why?  clue- holding static positions isn’t something I personally do well myself.  Holding the same position for more than 30sec is just plain painful!  I shift a lot.

Overall a great experience. I’m feeling much more confident about the upcoming trial now. And we have things to continue to improve upon! Yay!