Written by Marilyn Miller
It has been over three years since I have shown a dog and that was when Mandi Ming, CD, CGC earned her RAE title. I have not received any premium lists in the last couple of years. Getting back on the MB-F mailing list is very challenging. When a premium list from the Collie Club of Maine arrived last week I was thrilled. Their four-day show is held in Portland, Maine the first week in March. Two of the days the club opens the show to all breeds. I have entered this show many times with my Lhasas over the years. Blaze and I have been taking Novice Obedience classes with Merrillynn Hill of the Piscataqua Obedience Club in Kittery, Maine on and off for almost a year. Also private lessons with Merrillynn a couple of times a month. Blaze and I work hard with our lessons at home. I have also taught her all the Rally Novice exercises. I decided to enter Blaze in Rally Novice at the Collie Club of Maine show since I feel more comfortable with her being on leash for all the exercises at her first trial. Since moving to NH I have only shown my Lhasas in Rally and earned twelve Rally titles including two RAE's. I do want Blaze to earn a CD eventually and we will continue to take classes for that.
My first question was: Should I enter Blaze in Rally Novice A or B ? Blaze has no titles and this will be her first show. I did not want to make a mistake on our entry form ! I asked Merrillynn and she said "If the handler has put any titles on any dog - the dog must be entered in the B class". Since I have earned several CD's and RAE titles I must enter Blaze in the B class. When I enter Blaze in Novice Obedience that will also be the B class. If we continue further and enter Open or Utiity that will be the A class "as then it is 'on' the dog".
The AKC Obedience Regulations state the following: "The Novice A class shall be for dogs that have not won the CD title. The handler must own the dog entered or be a member of the owner's household or immediate family and may not have previously handled any dog that has earned an AKC Regular or 'Preferred' Novice, Open or Utility title."
Now that I have this straight in my mind the show entry was sent in under Rally Novice B. In our private lesson last week Merrillynn set up some Rally courses for me and we did a few different exercises in each course. I wanted Blaze to get used to seeing the signs on the floor and not be tempted to sniff them at a show. She also needs to learn to go smoothly from one exercise to another with me.
Blaze likes to often challenge me on a Down. One sign we need to work on is the "Stop and Down". I should down her often and everywhere I can to help her overcome this. Apparently, like other dogs she can find this command a challenge and a dominant one and she doesn't like it. (Lhasas can have a stubborn streak). We did some work on this command in the basement today. We heel, I stop and she goes down. She does not sit first.
On the "Halt, Sit, Walk Around" command and the "Halt, Down, Walk Around Command" I should make a wide circle around Blaze when I return to heel. This is to get Blaze used to having me "disappear" behind her.
"Halt, 1, 2, 3 Steps". I always said the word "up" while giving a hand signal forward to guide the dog forward. Merrillynn suggested I say "Come Up" and give a pop on the leash. I want Blaze to learn that when I move my feet she moves also.
All of the Rally exercises have a lot of basic Novice incorporated in them.
Some days we do a little dumbbell work. Blaze will take the dumbbell. She also likes to retrieve it by bringing it back to me with the bell in her mouth. It was suggested I wrap the bells in Reynolds Wrap to discourage this. My Husband commented on the dumbbell wrapped in tinfoil on the kitchen counter. It sounded like a good idea, but it was too much fun trying to unwrap the tin foil. We will have to try another approach.
Training in the Winter is difficult. If you only have 15 minutes to train because it is too cold, or of lack of space inside remember to make the most of the short amount of time you have. Do not let the dog make any mistakes and end the training session on a positive note!
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