Ring Confidence Class

As briefly alluded to, I organized a ring confidence class to help me with Vito's issues.  We've been doing our weekly meetings since February and are now getting ready to disband for at least a few months.  Vito and I have been doing ring entrance work for a long time so along with my co-organizer we had the 2 advanced dogs in the class.  The rest of our small group consisted of dogs who were either at the novice level or who hadn't started trialing yet.  I strongly believe EVERY dog should have experience with this ring confidence stuff, even if some dogs will pick it up along the way and make you look good without it!

We're somewhat following Denise's ideas for her class at the Fenzi Academy.  Amazing class with some great proofing ideas I never would have thought of myself.  Mainly the class is about focus and handling pressure.  Teaching the dog what their expectations are for handling all the little things that go on when you're in the obedience ring.  Stewards/judges pointing to the setup spot, removing the leash, handing off dumbbells, following orders, and so forth.  When you break it down, you can see SO many areas that could easily allow a dog to lose that connection with their handler if it's not trained.  Very important stuff!

It's really been amazing to watch the new dogs pick up on their new criteria and blossom.  At minimum they're learning how much fun the ring can be!  One of the handlers during this past week's lesson will soon have to be working on her dog not forging during heeling when just a few weeks ago there was sniffing and lagging issues!  Half the battle for most teams is knowing how to split the work down so that criteria can remain high but the dog knows how to reach success.

Since I know many of you need visuals, I put together this video from our session this past week.  We start every week with ring=party.  Since Vito is more advanced, I don't start our party until after we setup and the leash is removed.  Focus must be 100% or we leave the ring and try again.  This was a really good session for Vito.  Sometimes he's still not ready so we don't even make it into the ring and briefly skip our turn.  

We then did the same 2 exercises this week that gave us a really hard time the prior week.  First was handing over the dumbbell.  Last week he followed the dumbbell and jumped on the stewards.  This week he did a nice job but the person coming from the front was harder than from the side.  Secondly we worked on the figure 8 posts coming into the ring.  Last week he had a hard time maintaining 100% focus and his little eyes shifted back and forth as he tried so hard not to look.  This week had little glances but much improvement!  Running and stomping from the stewards was much harder though!

If you're in the Minneapolis area and interested in this work, I will likely be putting together an official class to start sometime this summer.

Kathie R  – ( May 8, 2014 at 3:04 PM )  

Those look like great ideas to practice. Thanks for the post! I'll have to work on them on my own since I don't live near Minneapolis. : )

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