Using Run Throughs

The boys have an obedience trial this weekend!  Lance's 2nd AKC trial since his disc injury and 5 months since the first one.  Vito's very first time in AKC Open.  I entered Open B as I don't want to even think about the possibility of another dog coming up to him.

And tonight were run throughs before the trial.  Always and forever with Vito, run throughs will be about our ring confidence games.  Squishing before going in, lesh removal with focus, setup, and party.  Exit the ring and repeat.  Since we had 7 minutes in the ring I think I used the first 3 or 4 minutes on those parties, with sometimes doing short stretches of heeling before our party and a few transition practices thrown in.  And then we did a few broad jumps.  Some figure 8 games, and ended with more ring entrances.  Vito had a blast.
If we have any hope of the trial going well for him on Sunday and being fully back to AKC, it all boils down to how much energy and confidence he can enter the ring with, maintain it on setups, and maintain it on transitions.  Those 3 areas are key.  I just wish the place was busier so that Vito could have practiced those things with more people pressure.  Exercises are the easy part, focus and attitude with scary people watching him is hard.

And Lance's run through was spent a bit differently.  I know that Lance usually has fantastic ring attitude and doesn't worry about people pressure as much.  So I spent his entire time on 2 exercises, signals and go outs, with a lot of play in the ring as well.  Go outs went fantastic, straight and confident, all the way to the gate as asked.

Signals are back to being broken on the down signal.  Lance's reoccurring issue that was a gigantic pain to work through the first time it came up after he got his UD and then has reared its head a couple times after long breaks from showing.  For Lance it's 100% a stress issue.  He's not being naughty when he sits or freezes on the down signal.  He doesn't want to be wrong.  For some reason Lance overthinks it and starts to worry about it in a trial environment. Of course it's never been replicated outside of a trial environment.  Lucky for me, matches and run throughs do it although I cant' get to them hardly ever.  So it's back.

I spent Lance's ring time tossing treats to him as I walked away on the stand. And then not only praising every single wrong response, but running back to him and rewarding him like crazy.  Lance knows how to signals.  Having a UDX kinda proves that I think.  Cheerfully interrupting him for errors and resetting works pretty well with Lance on most things.  But in a trial like environment it would only make it worse and he would worry more and more about being "wrong."  So that is where my plan at rewarding every thing he does comes into play.  And I guarantee that this weekend he will still freeze or sit on the down signal at the trial.  One match is not going to fix his issue, but it does have the potential to make it worse if you play it wrong.  At the trial this weekend I plan on reminding myself before we go in the ring that if (when) Lance goofs on the signals I am going to praise like crazy and have him run into me for some high fives.  And maybe I'll be excused from the ring for training, or maybe not.  But for Lance I think it is the best option.
Wish us luck this weekend!


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