It's not always about stuff going wrong or funny stories. Today's post is just about me being happy that my dog is working well in most things.
Laev's protection work is coming along very well; I am really pleased with it. Her outs off a live helper are fast and clean and ultra-reliable. Her hold and bark is lovely. She's backing very prettily into heel position when I call her out of the blind, though we need more work on staying at heel when I then call the helper out of the blind. Not her fault; we just haven't worked on it.
This past week the lightbulb came on for her that the side transport is REALLY just right-side heeling with the helper. I don't use the cue "heel" with this exercise because some judges will fault the dog looking at me during the transport.
This week I transported the helper to a "judge" during practice and then cued Laev to heel away. She is used to getting a bite on the helper during a side transport, to reward proper position and attention, and she told me quite clearly that I was stupidly forgetting something! We heeled away a few steps and then I sent her to the helper for a bite.
OH, Laev said. Why didn't you say so?
Our next repetition, she heeled away readily with me, practically dancing. She knew what was coming if she stuck with me. She's quick, she is.
Also this week she started putting together the send-away and distant down. I have been backchaining that, teaching first a distant face-me-and-lie-down cue and separately a send to a target, and then only recently combining them. This week for the first time I interrupted her run to the target with the distant face-me-and-down cue (at a shorter distance of only 25' or so) and she did it correctly twice out of two attempts. I'll take that. Now we just need more distance.
Her retrieves are almost exactly where I want them. I want a bit more speed on the flat retrieve, but her jumps are looking good. The retrieve over the wall is stressful for me! because I can't see her working, but she's doing it well.
She's still on the long line, though. I don't trust her entirely free. She's left me twice on that field to search for raccoons and squirrels, and she's not getting a chance to play at that again, not for a long, long time.
I do need to start chaining the full obedience routine together. She's got all the pieces; we just need it all at once!
Her tracking is improving, but I need to do a lot more of it. I don't like tracking; I can't practice bits of it in my kitchen. ;-) I need to get out to more fields, but I just don't do it often enough.
The only bad news is that my club's trial date was moved back. Now we're trialing mid-December. While that gives us more time to polish tracking, it means nasty cold weather, the kind that makes slick-coated Dobermans very uncomfortable on long obedience downs. I've threatened to dig out the honor down spot on the field and bury a radiant heating pad; I wonder if the judge will notice if there's no snow there?!
Anyway, I can't slack off, but I am not panicking, either. I hope I don't have to eat those words later!