Vito back to Rally

Vito was entered in AKC Rally this past Sunday.  One day only and exactly 1yr since his last attempt.  My hopes were high that after the great results of our APDT rally attempt this summer and our since extensive work on ring entries, that Vito would be relaxed and happy.  This trial was also held at our normal obedience club and even though open and utility were held on the agility side, Vito's rally ring was the exact same ring we practice in weekly.

Results were mixed.  He warmed up nicely and even relaxed beautifully by all the other rally dogs and exhibitors hanging out at the entrance area.  Waiting to go in the ring we played the food flick game suggested by Denise Fenzi (and I think invented by Kay Lawrence?).  He loves that game and focused really nicely for me.  But as soon as I got near the actual ring gates he changed.  Vito wouldn't jump up on me when cued and began looking around the room.  Going in the ring he remembered our burst through the gates game and did a great set up. But then I had to take off the leash and Vito again started checking out and took a few seconds to sit. 

The first sign was unfortunately a moving down-walk around.  A behavior that Vito is great at, one that also requires not only a stop of the fun heeling but concentration on the dog's part.  I thought Vito burst off the start nicely with me as we had practiced a billion times in our ring entries but he froze on moving down, managing to sit for a few seconds before turning to me.  I then went into crazy mom mode and practically ran around the rest of the course with him.  Pumping him up and not caring if he sat for everything or if we even stopped at all the turn signs.  It worked as by the end Vito was even prancing and bumping into me!  Of course we NQed on several signs.

I am SO happy with how he finished that run.  But I admit I'm really disappointed with the start.  I had delusions that Vito could handle starting in rally again and now I don't think he is ready.  I should have had our getting ready to go in the ring taped as I felt the 30sec before entering the ring was the worse.

Ximena  – ( October 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM )  

Ya know, I feel like it's really easy to get down on ourselves and our dogs. We spend x amount of time training, x amount of time problem solving, x amount of money to trial, and then our training falls apart somewhere we weren't expecting or were hoping wouldn't.

But, looking at your video, even if you guys NQ'd, I am SO impressed with your ability to get him out of his slump. And SO impressed that he was so willing to get out of his slump. And SO impressed at his beautifully precise heelwork. Looking at all of those things, I don't count it as a failure or a disappointment at all. And I don't think you should either. So what if it started a bit wonky... his attitude for the rest of the course and his finish was to die for. :)

Jen  – ( October 22, 2012 at 8:26 AM )  

The end of that video was so fantastic! It might be pricey, but maybe it would be worth it to enter him planning to just play in the ring like that, NQs be damned. :) He looked bright and beautiful once he realized you could have FUN in the ring.

Dawn  – ( October 22, 2012 at 9:29 AM )  

You handled it so perfectly really. Q/click to you.

Melissa Read  – ( October 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM )  

Vito looked like he was having a great time! I am not familiar with Rally, but I am familiar with dogs having fun... Congrats!

Ninso  – ( October 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM )  

Great work Laura!! Nice job altering your plan when things weren't working out and making it fun for Vito

kristi.w.  – ( October 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM )  

Hi Laura! I just wanted to say hi as I am behind on my blog reading so I haven't visited in a few months. It's fun to read about the service dogs you are training! Murphy is now around 5 years old and doing very well. We have learned a lot from adopting an adult rescue dog, but he really has turned into a wonderful dog. He is actually a hyper sensitive big guy, and he likes his routines, so we are constantly working on building his confidence. He's also really bonded to us and loves to be near us (though he luckily hasn't gone too far into separation anxiety issues). I work from home one day a week, and he always sleeps right by my chair. :) Anyway glad to see you are doing well and training dogs full time. Talk to you later!

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( October 25, 2012 at 10:29 PM )  

Hey Kristi- it's been awhile! I still love the Murph! Such a cool dog!

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