Saturday, March 10, 2012

All Dogs Gym CPE Trial

We had a good day today.  We have things to work on but hey, who doesn't?!

Round 1:  Jumpers Level 5
     This course had lots of pinwheels, so it didn't look very motivating.  Nonetheless, Jonah came out running hard and made it look easy.  I made an effort to keep myself moving with small steps rather than just stand in the middle.  That seemed to work well.  He was very economical with his lines and he was covering ground very well.  The only problem was that I almost ran into a stanchion at one point.  It made for less than beautiful handling for that little section, but the rest of the time we were both running hard and smooth.  Q and 1st.  We won our class easily.  The fastest dog over the course was 2 seconds faster.  It was  an experienced BC with a good handler.  I think it's possible we could have shaved off 2 seconds, but it would be hard for us.

Round 2:  Snooker Level 5
     This course ran very well for us.  We went for 3 "7's" and we got them and finished the closing with plenty of time to spare.  The closing was quite nice and flowing, so even though we had to do a fair amount of wiggling around and tight turns for the opening, he got to be rewarded by the closing.  It was lots of fun.  I wouldn't say he was full speed through the full opening (the turning and such tends to slow him down), but he was flying in the closing!  1st and Q with 51 points.  The same BC also got 51 points in another level and was 4 seconds faster I think.  Jonah was definitely physically capable of shaving that much time off, but he's never especially motivated by lots of wraps and things.  I was very pleased with the run even if it wasn't the fastest of the day :).

Round 3:  Colors Level 3
     The leash runner for this class was a young boy.  Jonah does not like children.  The boy was fairly close as we were getting started, and Jonah barked at him.  He started the course fast and happy, though. There was a tight turn after the A-frame with a tunnel entrance enticingly right ahead.  Jonah's contact was super and he made the turn easily.  Then he did a tunnel directed straight at the leash runner.  Result=flustered dog.  He disconnected, his ears went down and he stopped.  Nervous.  So, I went up to him, got between him and the boy, and asked him if he was ready.  He was, and off we shot to finish the course blisteringly fast.  What a goof.  The boy-spotting incident cost us 1st place by less than a second (and it probably took close to 10 seconds!).  Oh well.  I was pleased that he went right back into high speed and worked for the rest of the course.  I don't know how I could fully prevent him getting worried at something random like that, but it's good to know that he'll go back to work.  Q and 2nd...which means...we finished our Level 3 title!  Yay!

Round 4:  Standard Level 4
     I think Jonah was getting a little tired at this point, so I made an extra effort to get him excited before we started.  He was flying around until we got to the DW, where he stopped before he got to his 2o2o.  I took the time to make him get his 2o2o even though it cost us a few seconds.  Then when I released him into the pinwheel that followed he was a little unenthusiastic.  He picked back up, but then a few obstacles later he spotted a man who was ring crew, and he disconnected again.  It was between obstacles so didn't really influence anything, but I had to put my happy excited playful tone on again to get him moving.  It worked quite well, though, and once again he flew through the last 6 obstacles.  A bunch of people commented on how fast he is (when he wants to be).  It's true, he's really fast.  Anyway, even with the little blips the run was a Q and 1st.  The fastest dogs overall were a full 10 seconds faster, but I have no doubt that he would have been close to that if he'd been focused the whole way.

Overall, it was a good day.  4/4 Qs, 2 beautiful runs and the other 2 were pretty beautiful aside from a couple little episodes.  I wish we didn't have those episodes--we never see any sign of them in training, so it's hard to practice.  Sometimes I have moments where I consciously accept labels for Jonah.  Like the last trial at Riverside, when people who weren't even close to running were letting their dogs be on loose leashes in the very tight hallway to the ring and I said, "Excuse me, can we get through?  He's reactive."  I had never officially verbalized that Jonah was reactive before, but it felt so right in that moment.  I've come to be OK with that label.  We can manage his reactivity just fine, and most people don't even notice.  Well, today I'm getting used to the fact that Jonah struggles with trial anxiety.  That's ok.  I don't know exactly what to do about it other than keep taking him to trials and give him lots of good experiences.  He's a really good agility dog in practice, and sometimes he's just as good in trials.  And sometimes he's not.  But it doesn't matter.  I'll try to give him the very best runs I can offer him, and if I have to be a little extra enthusiastic sometimes, so be it.  It's always fun no matter what, and I love him and am proud of him every time we go in the ring.

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