Last weekend I attended a Rally Obedience trial at High Goal Farm in Greenwich.
I had a blast doing level 3 for the first time with Buddy. I rarely practice with him, and yet he’s always spot-on as if we practiced a lot – he makes me look good ! He was entered in level 3 all 4 runs and level 2 for the AM runs each day, and Q’ed 3 times in level 3 and 1 out of 2 in level 2. The NQ in level 2 was my fault. I reached towards my pocket (not even the one I give him treats from!) in the middle of the course, just before 3 married signs – halt sidestep right, halt 180 pivot, and then halt leave call front while running. He kept looking at me as he thought I was about to give him a treat as we did the first 2 signs, and when I left him in a stay and ran away, he followed me. He was wanting that darned treat! In retrospect (since of course I noticed him looking at me for a treat on the 2 signs before) I should’ve treated him even though I hadn’t planned on it.
He was really nervous on Saturday for some reason – maybe he was feeding off of me, I don’t know. On Sunday he was much better, but particularly in the afternoon run his prey drive was in full force and he ran a few steps towards and barked at a few fast moving dogs outside the ring (someone practicing fast heeling was one trigger, I can’t remember the other). In the past year this behavior, whether it is called prey drive or reactivity (which I think in Buddy’s case both apply) has been happening more and more. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s got arthtiris and isn’t always as comfortable physically as he used to be, or perhaps it’s just because he’s getting old and cranky… But he sure keeps me on my toes, that’s for sure.
Jart… well, he had his usual fears, which he usually overcomes rather quickly when playing agility. But Rally is quite new for him, and we have done very little of it – and none in public other than small classes. The first run he pulled me halfway around the course! There was no connection between him and me, he just wanted to pull me towards an exit or the corner of the room (where he could back against a wall and observe everyone else so nothing was behind him; he never wants anyone behind him sneaking up on him). Our afternoon run on Saturday was much better – I stopped in the beginning a few times and refocused him, and for much of the course he was willing, happy, even his usual bouncy self (when he heels with me in practice he’s a jumping jack at times!). We failed in the PM on the sit-walk around, he always gets up partway around to keep an eye on me; again, he doesn’t like anyone, even me behind him.
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday – he was bad in the morning, much better in the afternoon. I almost got around him on the sit-walk around in the afternoon trial, he got up just a bit at the very end. So, no Q’s for him. But it was a good experience for him, that’s for sure.
I wish I could get to more Rally O trials – just no time in my schedule with all the agility showing and judging I do. It seems like all the local trials conflict with dates I’m already booked. High Goal Farm plans on another rally trial in July, the date isn’t set yet. I’m already booked for most of July, so hope to hear the date soon to see if I’m available!