Getting Ready for Obedience Trials

I recently started another round of Ring Confidence at my training club and with a vacant spot in the class it was the perfect nudge I needed to have Zumi be a half student (only participates in the 1 dog at a time stuff, not the group activities I need to coach) and start actually prepping for obedience.  I have been training actual exercises and pieces of the exercises about 1-2x a week (with always thinking I'll train more!) but the real ring stuff that needed training I haven't done much with other than little introductions off and on (mostly off) for the last year.

So now I have a concrete route to achieving my goal of starting obedience competitions with her in the spring.  And Zumi has surprisingly blown me away with her success these last 3 weeks.
I don't know who has been training her as it certainly hasn't been me!  Maybe she's just growing up.
Today we practiced heeling up to and past a person with food and then handing over her super exciting dumbbell to a helper.

Things that really need to be worked on:

Squish- her waiting position outside the ring.  Zumi has a fabulous energetic release with immediate focus, but she's not always wanting to get into position (just wants to go!) and isn't waiting very long in it when I do get her in.

More people pressure.  It's my main focus in this class with her and it's going well, but I'm not taking the current success for granted.  Zumi LOVES people and at the same time is also secretly a sensitive and underconfident little girl who is sensitive to pressure.  We need all the practice with stewards/judges approaching, talking, and just being close!

Things I think we have nailed are:
Personal play/ transitions between exercises.  Zumi loves her jumping in the air and loves to play.  She also has very fast setups.

Delayed reinforcement.  I've stepped up our jackpot style training these last few weeks, really after being suspicious with that being a part of her focus issue at the agility trial in August, and it has been going well.  Zumi has no problem starting work without seeing her reward, and has no problem continuing to work without a high rate of reward and with the actual rewards at a distance.  It's a little early to tell if that's simply because her desire to jump and interact is so high, or if it's a bit of optimism that surely she will get a reward any second.  If it's the latter than her performance will start to dip a bit in the coming weeks and we will just build back up with a more clear understanding of the new rules.  Optimism is great, but it needs to be grounded in reality or it won't hold up in trials.

Ring Prep is my absolute favorite topic.  It can be super frustrating at times especially with Project Vito which has spanned multiple years, but I love helping others learn how to train for the little things and how to be a good handler for their dogs in the ring.

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