So, I've been putzing around with training Rally Obedience to both my guys. I am doing it at home, and just practicing all the basic Novice moves. I don't have the signs set up in a course or such. Wilson has had one class over a year or so ago. Jimmy is brand new to it, has never had a class, but is catching on very quickly!
The reason I started tinkering around with it is 1) it's winter time and it provides the boys with something to do in the evenings, 2) I am toying with entering them in the Rally competition at the CWCCA Nat'l Specialty , and 3) In order to earn the boys their Versatile Cardigan Certificate from the CWCCA, a Rally title should be a reasonably easy way to earn some of the needed points/categories.
This past Sunday, I was signed up for my very first Rally run-thru given by the Capital Dog Training Club. It didn't go as smoothly as I anticipated. Each boy had 2 runs through a Novice level course. Jimmy went first. He had to sit at the very beginning and was confused when I didn't lead out like I would in Agility. He sassed me quite a bit, his heeling was a bit rough, and he jumped up looking for treats. Basically, a bit rowdier than what I see at home. Wilson definitely gave a calmer performance, but also was too treat focused. Obviously, I need to get my food rewards faded out! They are both way too eager for the food! On the second time through, both boys were noticibly calmer/better, but we still had the food issue. For Wilson, I removed my treat apron, and that helped alot. For Jimmy, I only rewarded a couple of times, which seemed to help.
As for me, I had a few questions about how to perform the signs, but wasn't too lost. There was nothing presented that the boys didn't know how to do, although a couple of the signs definitely need more practice such as the exercise where you call your dog front, back one step, front, back two steps, front, back three steps, front. That was definitely ugly!
If you are still reading after all this time, my question to you experienced folks out there is:
Do you think I can get the boys ready for Novice A in time for the Nat'l Specialty at the end of April?
Keep in mind these factors:
All my training will take place at home, maybe finding one more run-thru.
I am not a perfectionist, I just want to qualify.
The entry fees are hefty, I don't want to burn them up for nothing!
And my number one biggest concern is the schedule at the National. Rally starts at 9am and Agility starts at 10am. I am concerned these "almost sure to overlap events" will stress me out too much, degrading my abilities, and therefore degrading what the dogs do.
Entries close on March 28th, so I still have time to practice and decide.