Written by Marilyn Miller
Blaze and I had our first private lesson with Merrillynn Hill in almost two months last Thursday. Even though I had been doing some training with Blaze on a daily basis at home, we needed some advise and instruction from our trainer. Blaze was a little distracted at first since she had not been in the training building for awhile. Lots of new smells to sniff. We began our lesson by going over some basics such as : 1). always treat for a "set up". 2). Always give the treat with the left hand, close to your left knee. This should discourage the dog from foraging ahead. 3). Don't practice heeling every day as it is boring for the dog. (Boring for the handler also). 4). Start your heeling with a few "watch me's" and a treat. With off - leash heeling just heel a few steps, halt and treat. Incorporate an about turn, left and right turns, then halt and treat. Limit your time on the heeling part of the lesson (no more than 10 minutes) and try to make it fun for the dog. Encourage your dog when she is paying attention and give lots of praise.
Merrillynn reviewed the Figure 8 with me and the one important tip I got was to pull back on the leash when going around the turns so Blaze would not get close enough to trip me.
On the Recall, after I walked away from Blaze and stood ready to call her to me she would anticipate the command and run to me. She might have jumped the gun by a second, but it could have been enough time to NQ us, or at the very least lose points. Merrillynn's strategy in solving this problem was interesting. Instead of turning to face Blaze, I am to turn sideways, look at her and give the "wait" command. Then walk forward a few steps, turn around and look at Blaze from the side again, continue walking forward, turn around, go back to face the dog and call her to come. By doing this the dog will not anticipate the "come" command.
Blaze is pretty solid on the stand for exam, but one important point that Merrillynn stressed is that "It is crucial to have the dog's attention when going from the stand for exam to setting up for the heel off leash." If you don't have their attention before the set up, chances are you won't have it while doing the heeling pattern.
It was suggested that I get my feet wet by trying Beginner Novice with Blaze. It would ease me back into showing which I have not done in three years. It would also be a good introduction to shows for Blaze. She does know all the Rally Novice exercises so Beginner Novice would expose her to some Rally signs.
When my first obedience Lhasa, BABY MING SQUEEZICKS, CDX. earned his CD title on August 31st ' 91 there was no Beginner Novice title. This optional titling class started in July 2010.
Our trainer thought BN might be a good place for Blaze and I to start as it is fun and not as stressful as going for a real title. It would introduce Blaze to a ring and show situation. BN is for handlers who have never shown before, or people like me who have not shown in competition for a long period of time.
The day after our lesson I looked up Beginner Novice on the computer and watched some videos which demonstrated the different steps in the title.
First of all the judge walks the course with the handlers and explains the different exercises. The first exercise is the Heel on Leash which uses Rally signs for the start, finish, fast, slow and normal, left and right and about turns and halt. The halt and sit are at the end of this exercise which is worth 40 points.
The second exercise is the Figure 8 which is similar to Novice and Open Obedience. In Novice and BN it is performed on leash. 40 points.
The third exercise is the "Sit" For Exam (instead of Stand For Exam). The dog is placed in the center of the ring.The judge approaches the dog from the front and touches the dog's head only. The handler then returns to heel position. This exercise is worth 40 points.
The fourth exercise is "Sit Stay - Handler Walks Around Ring". Upon the judges command the handler will place the dog in the center of the ring in a sit - stay position. Then proceed to walk around the perimeter of the ring and return to heel position. The judge will position herself so that the dog and handler are completely visible for the entirety of this exercise. This exercise is worth 40 points.
The fifth and last exercise is the "Recall" which begins in the center of the ring. The handler removes the leash from the dog and holds the leash in her hand. Then walks away from the dog to a spot designated by the judge. The dog must come when called and sit close enough in front of the handler that she can touch the dog's head. This is worth 40 points making a total of 200 points.
I will find out what shows will be in the NH. - Mass. area this Spring and Summer. Maybe Blaze and I will give BN a try. It would be nice to get Blaze acquainted to showing without a lot of pressure. It would be nice to get me reacquainted to showing without a lot of pressure also. Beginner Novice just might be advantageous to both of us !
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