Written by Marilyn Miller
Whether it is the first time your dog has been in the ring or the first time in years since you last showed there are important things to remember before entering the ring. My trainer ( Merrillynn Hill) went over some of these reminders at our private lesson on Feb. 23 2017.
Blaze and I were entered in Rally Novice on March 2ed in Portland, Maine. The Collie Club of Maine was putting on the show. This was to be the first time in the ring for Blaze. Our lesson was on Thursday and the trainer's first suggestion was to take one day off from training between then and Sunday. The show was on the following Thursday. The second suggestion was for me to have two hands on the leash at all times. This was to give me more control over a small dog.
Merrillynn uses the "up here" command to get the dog's attention and to look at the handler, rather than having her nose close to the ground sniffing. Every time I give Blaze a treat I should say "up here" and have her look at me. I prefer to say "Watch" and that works for us. It is a one syllable word and I don't have to hold my hand up for her to look at. She looks at my face instead. I should always be aware of what Blaze is doing, like sniffing and not paying attention.
It would be a good idea to get to the show 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours early to give Blaze a chance to look around and have her settle in her crate. She will certainly be interested in all the other dogs, people and different sounds there.
Hopefully Blaze will have a chance to sniff around the ring and check it out before any judging begins.
I should try to give her three ten minute warm ups before our turn. This will consist of some heeling, about turns, fronts, etc.
I must remember not to praise Blaze too exuberantly until we are out of the ring. She tends to bark when she gets excited which praising her does. A judge can deduct one point every time a dog barks.
During that last private lesson we also worked on warming up the dog outside the ring, and how to enter the ring properly.I was reminded when to give Blaze her last treat before entering the ring and to make sure she has time to swallow it and not cough it up in the ring. (She has done this in class a couple of times).
The following Monday night around dinner time I did not feel quite right - a little light headed. The next morning I was also off balance. Freaking out at this point I called my doctor and got an appt. for later that morning. She diagnosed me with Vertigo, something I had never had before and hope not to again. She sent me home with a prescription for antihistamines.
Blaze and I continued to work on our exercises the next couple of days. Thursday morning came and I still did not feel quite right. I thought of the spirals, weaves, 270 degree turns, circles, about turns, figure 8, etc. that might be on our rally course and I opted not to attend. The thought of falling down in the ring was not a pleasant one. Then there is always the thought of the little dog tripping me up (even on a good day).
I was very disappointed. The show had a good venue and I like the judge, Tibby Chase. There won't be another show for us before June. Of coures , the next day, Friday, I felt fine and even attended my exercise class. This show was just not meant to be. Maybe it worked out for the best. Blaze is still a baby at 16 months. No point rushing her.
This week at home we are doing something different - some dumbbell work, concentrating on the "hold it" part. Blaze is catching on to this a lot faster than she did "take it".
The good news is we seem to be making progress with her anxiety and the car. I purchased a dogie car seat from Amazon which allows Blaze to see out the window, face forward in the car, and she is able to see me driving.
The combination of the anxiety pill, the Thunder shirt, the drool towel she wears over her head and the car seat seem to be helping. Hopefully we will be able to wean her off the pills and the drool towel eventually. She looks too cute sitting up in that car seat !
Frigid weather and a blizzard coming this week will prevent us from going to any different locations (or anywhere outside the house) for training for another week.
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