Oh my! How on earth did it go from January to MAY!!! LOL Well I must say I thought I was back to my training blog in January, but that was apparently not the case. Now that winter has come and gone, the house is rented, and my stress level has finally decreased - things are finally calming down. Steeler and I have been working on agility and obedience between January and the end of March, with the goal of competing at the Dalmatian National in Fort Michell, KY at the end of April. Well as a warm up, I entered Steeler in a Beginner Novice run at a real actual trial. UGH! What a disaster. I don't know what the problem was, my nerves? Steeler's anxiety? But he literally pulled me from sign to sign on the heeling pattern. We do a lot of Rally. The sign's really should not have been interesting to him at all, or so I thought. There is always something to learn as Steeler has reminded me time and time again. So after viewing the video, and a lesson with my obedience instructor (E), we devised a plan. This is going to sound so incredibly simple, but really it's not. In the discussion with E - she reminded me that really the last couple of years we haven't really been doing a lot of training, yes we go to class every week, we occasionally go to run thru's or show n go's but really how much time have I spent training outside that environment. The reality is that really I wasn't doing any real consistent training.
I don't really remember how we arrived at this idea - but it was a relatively simple thing - no more pulling on leash EVER!!!! No more getting cookies for just sitting around, no more Mom being a Pez dispenser. It sounds like such a simple thing. But really it was and is HARD!!!! But what a change. I worked hard for the month between our decision to give this a try and the national. 25 out of the next 30 days there had to be some sort of training if I were to consider showing at the national. We dropped just about everything else as far as training went. No working on heeling or retrieves etc. Everywhere we went, you will walk right here with me .... you don't get to pull me to the next bush to pee. You don't get to pull me over to friends to say hi. Those things became "real life rewards".
Steeler didn't really think this change in "The Rules" was such a good thing at first. We were entered in an APDT Rally trial the following weekend, and after some discussion I decided that I was going to go and give Steeler the opportunity to decided whether he wanted to work with me or not. The Saturday trial was not pretty! We walked into the ring, got the slowest sit ever, and when I asked him if he was ready he wouldn't even look at me. LOL oh that was hard. I said thank you to the judge and walked out of the ring and put Steeler in his crate, no words and he had to walk through a crowd of kids saying LOOK IT'S a Dalmatian. We did that twice on Saturday. Sunday was a bit better, I got more attention and was able to do a couple of signs and have a big party in the ring.
The following weekend we were again entered in another APDT Rally trial. Thankfully close to home. Huge change in attitude during the week. We were able to do the whole courses with lots of reinforcement for choosing to work in the ring. So after three plus weeks of working I was still undecided about whether to even bother going to the National. E didn't think that we were actually ready to go in the ring just yet, but at the very least, it would be a week where I could concentrate on working on our program. So we went......
To be continued!