Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rally Obedience Video

In case of insomnia, download video -- these are two edited bits of our recent APDT Rally Obedience trial.

Shakespeare's video is from his fourth run of the day, and you can tell he's mentally tired and physically worn from the heat, but I picked a few of the more interesting exercises from Level 2, including a jump and my personal favorite, the stationary sidestep. You can also catch me delivering a small treat after the sidestep, since it's an exercise which ends with us both standing still before starting for the next station.

(APDT allows certain deliveries of treats in the ring, under restriction, but limits repetition of cues/commands and disallows any luring in the ring. AKC disallows treats, but allows unlimited cues/commands and does not penalize luring with fake treats in the ring.)

Laev's video shows the very end of her 18-station course; this is her first time in the ring. You can see why she scored a 169 -- she's pretty good for a puppy, but she's not quite good enough. We're not very proud of that sloppy stand at the end, but I do like her attention and her happy heeling attitude. Not bad for a six-month-old!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Praise the Dog -- Slap the Handler!

Went tracking today. Carefully laid my track, sighting along trees for a straight line and then corners.

Got puppy. Started track. Noticed that she was drifting upwind (unusual, to say the least). I guided her back to the track. She went upwind again.

Repeat. Repeat.

Finally realize that I am sighting along the wrong tree this time! I hadn't used the big individual tree, but the uniquely white one. I'd forgotten that while laying Shakespeare's track. Laev was resisting the blown scent trail and instead clinging, like the good little footstep tracker that she is, to the original track. I'd been correcting her from doing exactly what I want her to do, and in challenging circumstances.

See above regarding "praise the dog, slap the handler."

So I quickly laid another short track, heavily baited, and let her work it out without any "help" from me. This second track had only two trees. ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

happy trials to you.... until AKC raises the rates

Weekend wrap-up: AKC Rally Obedience, 98/100 and 98/100. At least we're consistent. :-)

AKC Open, NQ x 2. I was really pleased with Saturday's run, though, and we had the same error both days -- he didn't respond to the first send for the retrieve on flat and the retrieve over high jump, respectively. On the second try, he did each very well, got compliments. I thought it was stress-related -- Sunday he was clearly very stressed, our heeling was uuuugly, if one were even generous enough to call it heeling -- but three different people told me they thought I was speaking too softly in the ring and that he didn't hear me send him. I'm not sure that he couldn't hear me, but I'll buy that maybe I am too soft in a loud noisy trial and he's too stressed to go without a hearty voice.

As I told someone today, the moral of this weekend's story is that two days of trialing is okay, but three in a row is too much for this dog. And anyway, he held the out-of-sight stays, which I know are very stressful for ths momma's boy -- even though another dog broke and went visiting around the ring and caused a minor snark. Whatta boy!

But this is Laev's blog, not Shakespeare's, and I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting his results on here. (Got in a rut of dog reports, I suspect.) But I did take Laev to the trial today, just to get her some mileage. No one thought she was a coonhound. ;-)

I know I said AKC Rally courses were shorter than APDT, but I had ample demonstration of that yesterday. My sister went with me for her first AKC trial (and second trial ever; first was UKC-SDA trial last April) and competed in Rally. I'd meant to video her run, but forgot, so she taped mine instead. Only I'd left the video accidentally in the middle of last week's APDT trial, and now there's about a third of our APDT run, our entire AKC run, and then the last third of our APDT run again. Yeah, I'd say there's a course difference.

Everyone I spoke to who'd done both, including an AKC Rally judge who was competing this weekend, says that AKC is easier than APDT. I haven't seen such a difference in venues before, as most are roughly comparable, except that a lot of people say UKC Utility is tougher than AKC. I'm not sure if it's really tougher, or just different, but most people train for AKC.... Anyway, AKC Rally was short and sweet, even if AKC is being a bunch of extortionists by not counting it as a second class and charging big bucks for it, and I should have entered Laev, too, this weekend. ;-) (Not really -- we're not short on time.)

But really -- conformation and Obedience are less money to do than Rally and Obedience? How do they reconcile that conformation and Obedience are the same event but Rally is not? That's just purely mercenary. I think it's obvious that they realized Rally is popular and wanted to cash in.

Oh, and my sister got a score of 90 and her first leg in her Rally run. :-)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rally Correction and Update

I was wrong. It used to be that APDT offered varied titles based on score averages, then the varied titles were offered according to scoring within guidelines, and now they just offer one title for all qualifying legs, just like AKC and UKC. So Shakespeare has a RL2 as of last Sunday. It would not hindered her in the future if Laev had qualified after all with a low score, but I don't care; she doesn't need a leg that young.

Today was our first AKC Rally trial. I've seen only one course, obviously, but I found AKC to be *much* easier than APDT. Multiple commands, signals, etc. are allowed without penalty (it's -3 points for each in APDT) and the Novice course was only 11 stations long, as opposed to the 18 we did in Level 1 at the APDT trial. Also, there's no time limit in AKC like there is for APDT. Several others there who trial in both venues said that AKC is written to be easier, too; I checked the rules and AKC has fewer allowable exercises in Novice than ADPT, making for less variety and less challenge (in my opinion).

Even so, I was amazed that I actually felt nervous before this trial, unlike my APDT runs. I'm so conditioned to thinking AKC competition is strict, unyielding and difficult for us; what must my poor dog think? And yes, between stations 3 and 4 he glanced around and suddenly a little thought bubble popped into existence over his head: "Wait! This isn't Rally -- this is a trial!!!" He lagged a bit on the 270-degree Right Turn immediately following, and then he came back mentally a little. He didn't feel quite as good to me as he did last weekend, though.

And AKC Rally courses are tight! Stations are close together, or at least this one was. No room to really open up and trot out. Kind of like AKC agility courses versus USDAA or NADAC, I guess.

Anyway, Shakespeare left today with a 98/100, so I was pretty happy. :-) We didn't place; there were 5? dogs with a 99 score, and times were used to break those ties.

Rally is definitely popular! We had over forty dogs entered in just our class alone, not including Novice A. Someone said today that her last trial had over 100 dogs entered in Rally in one day. That's amazing! Obedience folks can only dream of such numbers right now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Trial Results

Warning: shameless bragging follows.

Shakespeare and I manned a CIA booth at Hancock County Paws in the Park and then another at a Camp Bowwow grand opening on Saturday, where we did clicker demos, and then Sunday we traveled to an APDT Rally Obedience trial.

Shakespeare had four runs, pulling two firsts and a third and never scoring below 200 (a perfect performance score is 200, with a potential of 203 with attitude points). He finished his Level 2 title and got some legs toward further titles.

I'd signed up Laev for two Level 1 runs as well, figuring that we didn't have to do the full course and it would be good experience for her to enter and have fun in the ring. I had no goal but to play with her and leave her enjoying the trial experience. Imagine my surprise, then, when we left the first run only one point shy of a qualifying score!

I wasn't only not trying to qualify, I was actively trying to avoid qualifying -- unlike other venues, APDT Rally O awards different titles based on the quality of scores, so I don't want Laev to qualify until she can do it with a high score. I was therefore simultaneously amazed, slightly disappointed and relieved to see that she'd missed it by a point. :-) The next round, I warned the judge that I was going to deliberately NQ, which she graciously allowed.

Laev was by no means a stellar performer, but she was pretty good for a six-month-old puppy who hadn't even seen all the exercises in a Rally O course. She got quite a few compliments, because between bouts of trying to eat the signs ;-) she showed real focus and brilliant attention, even if she didn't understand all the exercises. And those she knew -- finding heel position, fronts, changes of position, etc. -- she did pretty well. I was just thrilled with her.

She doesn't have the duration of attention required to really make it through a 18 station course, but I won't be attempting that seriously for a while yet. In the meantime, Shakespeare is actually having fun in a competition ring and Laev is getting good experience. :-)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

brief little post

My computer is completely fried -- massive hard drive error, cannot boot, etc., etc. -- so I'm posting this from another machine and it will be very short. :-)

I took the dogs tracking today at the park. They hadn't been tracking in a while, as I was out of town, and it showed in Laev's work. Shakespeare, on the other hand, started strong and then got a little shakey, only to finish better again. Both dogs did two tracks, one 100-pace for Laev and then another of about 80 paces (I lost count), and one shorter one (50?) for Shakespeare and then a second purely to practice article indication.

I think I need to worry about Shakespeare mouthing the articles. Gotta come up with a plan for that....