Getting Ready for the Trials (and Tribulations)

August 20, 2009

Chase is far from ready to earn his CD, but we have a Thursday night Novice drill class and it’s good practice for Rally Novice.  Biggest ongoing problem:  when we are doing group circle heeling, Chase thinks he’s in the conformation ring and wants to gait out away from me — he flat-out forgets that he’s heeling.  That’s just going to take practice.  However, it’s not a problem when he and I are in the ring alone which is how it works in obedience and rally competition.

Surprises for the night:  The recall sucks — Chase starts coming straight toward me and then does a happy shake and romps off to play with other people and dogs — again, in competition we wouldn’t have all these potential new friends in the ring.  The good:  rock solid sit-stay and down-stay, instant drop, good overall attention, and a good right finish.  I just began teaching him the swing finish, but he’s trying — we’ll have it down by the Labor Day weekend trials.  Chase has pretty good attention for a teenaged boy and I know he’s trying to be good — except when he forgets where he is and what he’s doing.  Yo, Chase — I’m over here!


  1. Dawn Small says:

    Well, you know those Cardigans: they have a highly developed Play drive. Being in class with other dogs provides temptation to go play, but it’s good proofing for later. Even though the others won’t be in the ring with him, they’ll be just outside the ring. (Ask me sometime about the humiliation I suffered at the paws of my Labrador.)

    You may already be doing this, but I always suggest using a different collar and leash for conformation and obedience, even another still for casual walks. They seem to learn the difference pretty quickly between when they should be out there strutting their stuff and when they should be in heel position and paying attention to you.

    I don’t do Rally so this may be a stupid question, but does a Rally course require you to use both an around and a swing finish? I’ve found with corgis that I get a much straighter sit on the finish if they go around rather than swing into position.

    You guys will get there — and you’ll have lots of fun along the way. 🙂

    • penni says:

      We’re going to drop back three steps on the recall and begin short recalls on leash, then longer recalls on a line, and finally retry the off-lead recall. I don’t want Chase to think that in the ring he can have a big party. I do use three different collars (or four). I usually train with a prong collar, but since we are entered in the Rally Trials have moved to a nylon choke. For conformation, he wears a fine metal choke, for everyday, he wears a flat, quick-release collar. He also wears that collar for tracking, but since he also wears a harness, he knows what that’s all about.

      Rally requires both a finish right (around) and a finish left (swing). I agree that it is more difficult for a Cardi to get a good heel position with a swing finish and work hard to get my dog to go far enough behind me that he can turn and come in straight. There is a very helpful book available: “Competitive Obedience Training for the Small Dog”. A lot of the problems the trainers with big dogs don’t address are covered in that book.

  2. Dawn says:

    Penni, It really sounds like he is doing well so far. He is still young too, so I think that adds to the easily distracted factor. I got the best recalls playing the toss the treat between the legs game. Its been a while I thinkI need to break that one out again. However, I will be honest, nothing works well on Grace when it comes to recalls. Have fun!