So I hesitate to even talk much about it, after our last attempt to get our SCH I . . . but I will anyway.
Doc and I have been training like mad dogs and we put in our trial paperwork today. Going to go for the SCH I again on Dec. 12 at a club trial down in Waldorf, Md.
I've been rethinking how we did our prep work for trial last time around, and I realized that one of the fatal errors I made was that in my desire to get a more precise routine I had pretty much death-marched the dog through it too many times, put too much pressure on him, and pretty much drained all of the enjoyment out of it for him. Combine that with the fact that the weather was miserable (90 degrees in April!), it was my first attempt at a title, and my stress level and . . . well, it just wasn't pretty.
This time around I've tried to do a few things differently. I've removed a lot of the pressure in obedience--corrections are reserved for things we really need attention for, I've been feeding him up for a job well done, and I've been training him on the trial field and made it tons and tons of fun and good times. Playing ball, tugging, feeding, feeding, feeding. Hoping that by the time we get to trial, the field will be the place he associates with good things and less stress.
We've also been working a lot on his targeting the sleeve, which for some reason he still has issues with. Today, he landed all of his bites but one--the first one was an escape, and he completely missed, but the second and third were just fine. Sometimes I wonder about this dog's eyesight. I can't tell if he's not seeing the sleeve as well as he should or if he's literally just still not very good at timing his jumps for the bite.
The chances of a 90-degree day in December are slim to none, so that helps too. A couple more training weekends, more work on blind searching, getting attention during heeling and on that send-out, more practice targeting the center of the sleeve, and lots of ball playing, and then we go in front of the judge.
Scary. Hope we can pull it together this time.