Well the show season is in full swing and it’s all change in The Laker household.
Mark has been working hard with Moog and they have done some jaw dropping course work at home including a lovely start line. First show of the season it was like winter had never happened. The excitement of the show was just too much for Moog. Mark does have limited time for training, as we have equipment at home then all his training is at home when Mark can fit it in. This means neither of them get to work with other dogs in an exciting environment. Sometimes not having your own equipment can be a benefit as there is no choice but to go to a group or club.
As we were working at our club (Scunthorpe) show Mark didn’t have much time to help Moog and was not going to run him. I said it would be good training just to get him to do the start. Again as we were helping we couldn’t both go and I was left alone to get Moog to the ring. Well I decided that I wouldn’t go to the ring if I couldn’t get him to look at me or carry his toy. In my job as a dog trainer I often say if you don’t want a dog to do something give it something else to do e.g if you don’t want it to be watching other dogs running then you get them to interact with you.
I started with a loose lead just on his harness so he had the choice to get me to play with him or take treats off me instead of pulling to get to the rings. He is a lovely gentle boy at home and doesn’t struggle out on a walk so I knew he could enjoy this.
I was relaxed because he wasn’t my dog and I had no thought about competing.
I even queued with him and asked him to down, sit, stand for his toy and treats etc. He did wait and we had reasonable behaviour in the ring.
After a long discussion it was decided that in my dog trainer capacity I could help Moog get to grips with containment rather than Mark with his top level competitor habits. By this I mean Mark is competitive and Moog is more than capable (when he’s not over aroused) of winning classes. When Mark is in the queue his habits are to be “in the course” and getting ready to move quickly to handle Moog correctly round the ring. In my opinion this high brain activity adds to Moog’s excitement.
Rhyme is well trained and knows his job well. I was looking forward to running him at full fitness this year and possibly getting to some Champ finals with him. However I know that if Mark runs him he will be 1 to 2 seconds quicker and so be more competitive. Mark can then just practice his course skills when he has time to train. Meanwhile I can keep Rhyme fit and his skills honed.
So the plan is a Mark competes with Rhyme and I train Moog.
Easter gave us our first chance to try this new arrangement. Mark ran Rhyme beautifully and sure enough beat a few dogs that would usually beat me running him. Mark even felt he still had that old magic 😉
Meanwhile I did one reasonable start line with Moog and then completely got competitive.
Even with placing him in a down and getting control his time was only 1 second off the lead – WHY did I bother to look at that when my focus was only on the start line process?!!
Needless to say the start lines became a battle again and I turned into a Mark.
Luckily I had videoed my run and on watching it I could see that by trying to get him to stay with calmness and discipline I was then not in a mental state ready to be able to handle him round the rest of the course.
Another thing I regularly say is that very few people can take training into a show environment so its about trying to create a show environment at training.
Moog loves energy and excitement so my plan is that I am exciting when he is in a down and then if he moves I am totally flat and calm.
This then adds lots of value to him staying down while I can be getting warmed up ready to keep up with him. A win/win situation that hopefully will produce a win eventually – not that I the dog trainer is thinking about that at all