Saturday, December 5, 2009

Exuberance Defined

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in this blog. Let's see. Since our last meeting here, Jack and I began working on some major issues. Mainly his penchant for zooming and his lack of attention on me. Well, it is a very slow and methodical lesson to learn, not only for Jack, but for me. Jack can only learn to give me his attention when I am paying attention to him. We need to interact more, not just when we are doing our homework. We need to play together too. Our bond must be made stronger for his attention to focus on me. That is a daily focus of our training.

So, what has been happening since July? Well, on Labor Day weekend, we participated in the Dog Obedience Clubs of Florida, DOCOF, state competition in Orlando. We had competed last year and had a lot more distractions and reactions to those distractions. It was hard to concentrate. I was nervous and that travelled down the leash to Jack. We were excused from the group exercises after Jack had some major zooming issue. I was totally embarrassed. But, that was wise of the judge as he didn't want Jack to interfere with other dog and handler teams.

However, this year we did a little better. Jack still zoomed the ring, but not nearly as bad as last year. However, his on-leash portion was significantly better than last year. We were allowed to perform the group exercises this year. Jack sat for the sit portion, but laid down with about 10 seconds left in the 1-minute sit. I could not get him to lay down for the 3-minute down.

We still had fun during that weekend. And it was a learning experience.

In October, the Orlando Dog Training Club had it's obedience and rally trials. I had entered Jack in Wildcard Open and Pre-Novice. On Saturday, we went into the Open ring and worked on the heeling portion (off-leash). Jack lagged a bit and then ignored me somewhat. We did not do the Figure-8 exercise and we were able to do the Retrieve-on-the-Flat, but lost it for the rest of the exercises. Our Pre-Novice fared better, though we came in last place due mainly to lots of handler errors (that's me). I didn't realize I was not allowed to encourage or give Jack any extra commands while performing the exercises. I will know better next time.

And on Sunday at the trial, I was upset with Jack not paying attention to me during our warm-ups that I scratched our entry. I felt that I would be more of a hindrance in the ring than Jack would be. My feelings would travel down the leash and it would not be pretty.

So, since then, I have been working the Ruff Love program by Susan Garrett. The purpose is to build up the relationship between Jack and me. It is taking a longer amount of time than I expected. But, I feel it is worth the commitment of my time and energy for our relationship.

Until next time, we are walking in obedience!

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