Vito's Re-Debut into AKC Obedience

Today Vito and I are celebrating.  After more than a 3 year hiatus from AKC obedience we stepped foot inside the Pre-Open ring together this morning.  Long time readers will recognize what a long journey it's been for us, and will continue to be for us, to get to this point where I finally felt ready to give the AKC ring a try again.

Pre Open is one of AKC's new optional titling classes.  It is essentially the exact same as Open, but without the group stays and the option for lower jump heights.  Since I've essentially spent the last 2 years working solely on Vito choosing to play with me without bribes, and a billion and one ring entrances, I haven't exactly done any group stay work with him in ages.  At this point while I think he would be OK in a lineup, it's not really something I wanted to gamble on with his confidence and certainly not something that was relevant to my goal for this trial.  So Pre- Open it was.  While Vito has done CDSP obedience a handful of times over the past 3 years, the experience is not quite the same as that of an AKC trial.  CDSP offers the ability to praise during exercises, treat in between exercises, offer simultneous hand signals and verbal commands, and a generally more relaxed atmosphere.  AKC is the gold standard of obedience for a reason.

I felt brave enough to enter, finally, because I knew we had a good chance getting the attitude I wanted and at last only a small chance of having a meltdown.  I figured even if he wasn't quite ON the way I was hoping for that we could finish the run without having had any real damage done to the work I've put in.  I only entered one day and chose Sunday because the judge is awesome and I knew he wouldn't give me a hard time if I chose to support Vito with extra praise if he needed it.
The greatest video ever:

Vito blew me away.  He had a few moments of disconnects after entering the ring and through the first leg of heeling.  But from then onward he was ON.  Heeling was bordering on forging and we definitely had some crowding!!!!  We had a no sit on the last halt but it didn't seem to deflate Vito at all as he happily jumped on me afterwards.  Actually on every single transition between exercises Vito was happy to jump on me and he even did a few high hand touches on the last transition.  I think this was one of the only times in a trial that Vito didn't just jump on me because I was asking him to, but did so out of joy.

On the retrieves and recall he didn't just trot but actually ran!  On the figure 8 a post was a child!  Wearing a hat!  We did a bonus figure 8 loop because the judge apparently wasn't quite ready for daylight savings and I threw him by going right.  So our halt was right before the inside post, something that can make it hard for Vito to regain momentum and negated my wanting to go right to drive, drive, drive the Toller.  Vito was still amazing!  At the very end he needed to go check out the judge.  But Phil is awesome and just gave Vito his dumbbell, turning the experience into judges=awesome.

Ok, things to work on.  Unsurprisingly, all are skills.
- Fronts :)  Vito is improving greatly at home with his fronts while holding an object but we're no where near being ready
- Drop on recall.  Vito had a slow response to my hand signal.  Actually, I'm blown away that he did it at all.  Vito is not a fan of downs and I wasn't sure if he would do it in a trial.  In CDSP I give both verbal and hand signal and I think he has needed it.  At home I've been doing a lot of drops, followed by backing up in a down (after that seminar).  Vito still doesn't like the initial drop, but LOVES his down-backs!
- Broad jump.  Another neglected exercise and one I can't practice at home.  He pretty much cut the corner and I expected to NQ.  The judge disagreed on the cutting part, but agreed that it was funky and deducted 2 points for the exercise.

Unfortunately neither of the 2 upcoming local AKC trials offer the Pre classes.  I am currently debating about doing 1 day of AKC rally but we will see.  Otherwise we will soon be entering the lull of obedience trials until late summer.  There is another CDSP trial in April that I will likely enter him in just for more fun ring=awesome experience.

Muttsandaklutz  – ( March 9, 2014 at 9:03 PM )  

Sooooooooooo awesome!!! A joy to watch, happy happy dog all the way through. Very happy for you and seeing the results of all of your training!

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