Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Speaking Of Obedience

Here's my cute little Letty at 8 months.  She's a just a peanut, and weighs in at about 35 pounds.  Although I much prefer the boys, this little rascal has won my heart.  She's exceedingly cute, very funny, and tries so hard to be a good dog.  She'll be sitting home this spring as Amery, Meribel and Gemma are much more together for their ages, and Eddie is ready, so we have plenty of dogs to show.  I'll just enjoy her as a pet for now.

A very good evening at obedience, thank goodness!  Argus had been such a butthead the previous week I had begun to wonder if it was worth the effort to go for an obedience title on him.  Training a 6 1/2 year old dog who has been heavily campaigned in the breed ring is a lot different than starting with a new dog.  In addition to learning, Argus also has to unlearn, as so many of the things that made him a terrific showdog are a handicap in the obedience ring.  Although we were a good team in the breed ring, the level of attention required for a good obedience dog is far greater, and the "cues" he was getting from my body language are totally different from the ones he will need for a good obedience performance.  Because I had started him with a totally different training method, it too me awhile to apply the new methods to Argus and to figure out how to make them work for both of us.

Our biggest hurdle has been and will continue to be attention.  A good conformation dog pays attention to his handler but is also stimulated by everything that goes on around him in the ring and at ringside.  It keeps him up, interested and turned on.  A good obedience dog is focused solely on its handler, a big change for my busybody Argus who is interested in everything happening around him. 

Heel position is another issue.  In the past six plus years Argus and I have logged perhaps thousands of miles, and he's either walked on a Flexi Lead, or a regular slack lead, but never right beside me.  As long as he does not pull, I allow him to walk out ahead of me, from a foot or two to 26 feet (the length of a Flexi line).  He's been shown in the breed/group/Best In Show ring hundreds of times, on a short lead but again out in front of me.  Although he is paying attention and can anticipate what comes next, he does not watch me intently as he must do in the obedience ring. 

His third major problem was the fact that to him a Sit command means just that, Sit.  The concept of a straight sit at my side was hard for him. 

To be continued . . .


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