Join Date: Nov 2015
Names of dogs: Noelle And Francis
Poodle Type: Moyen
Location: Chicagoland, Illinois
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Noelle's Adventures in Competitive Obedience
Well, today Noelle and I talked it over and we decided to start training toward a CD, so we decided to go to Novice class. Tonight we went to the fourth AKC club we've tried. The first club was way too intense. The vibe in the whole place felt like, if my dog isn't OTCH by the time he turns three, I'll commit suicide. I felt stressed out in there. The dogs were stressed. The people were hyper-focused. No one was enjoying anything.
Our second club was disorganized. I never really felt like the instructor had a clear idea what we were training from week to week. I'd work really hard on down/stays at home, and then the following two weeks we would work on heeling in class. Okay, let's work on heel at home then. Next week, long sit.
Facepalm. Structure, I need some structure. I need somewhere else to train.
We traveled 45 minutes each way to an obedience club in the next county to get Noelle's CGC. That was a long stressful drive in the dark. Fine to do for the CGC or an obedience trial, but not weekly.
The fourth obedience club is two towns west. They meet in the 4H building on the county fair grounds. They have drop in novice/open/utility/rally classes. Novice class is 45 minutes. It was six bucks a class. Whaaat? Super stressola cola club was $20 a night. Six bucks. OK, but how can it be any good if it's so cheap. Let's find out.
Noelle had a rough time in the ring at first with new place, new, dogs, new floor, new ring for the first 10 minutes of class. Everyone else's dogs were heeling and Noelle was focused on everything but me. Then she settled in and I got full eye contact heeling. It was beautiful! Heeling with speed changes. Heels with three steps sit, two steps, sit, heeling with about turns. Noelle got very happy once she figured out we were heeling. I was happy, too. We got praised for our eye contact for and our connection with one another. Made me happy all over again.
We did figure eights around two people and their sitting dogs. Oh boy. Noelle has never done this. She didn't want to sit and stay at my side with an interesting dog walking by. She was much too wiggly as the other dogs passed. Oh no. What kind of chaos is she going to bring to the party when it's her turn to walk figure eights?
How about, peppy heeling with focused snappy eye contact? The trainer was shocked. The two other people were shocked. You've never done that before? Noelle just snapped in and enjoyed heeling with me around the people and dogs. I think it's because we work around stuff all the time. Leave it is a default behavior, and so is zigzagging. We do that stuff around cherry pies, piles of muffins, loaves of french bread, with people, strollers, and shopping carts in the way. All we're gonna do is go around two people and two dogs? A figure eight was easy for her.
If that was too easy, we were in for it next. Stand for exam. Oh boy, we have a lot of work to do with this. I learned to hold Noelle behind her legs and feed her a treat while the instructor touched her. It was awkward. We suck at this right now. We'll work on it, and work on it, and work on it, and maybe when she is 942 years old, she'll have it.
Long sit. Noelle lasted 2 minutes out of three minutes before she wandered over to see what I was doing. I'm lonely, hi Mom. No, stay. That was a bit of a minor issue, ditto with down/stay. But, it was her first night. Normally she's very good at long stays. So, we'll get there. Other dogs were having problems, too.
First recall off leash, Noelle ran to me, bounced off my knee and sat. Then she did a leaping finish and landed on her butt with a cheeky poodle smile. Second time she anticipated the recall by a split second, but once again stopped and sat, then finished with another leaping spin and sit.
The trainer, who was laughing at Noelle's poodle spring loaded finish, said, "See you next week."
You'd better believe you'll see us next week. Look, this class was a blast. It was hard work getting Noelle's attention especially at first. It was hard work keeping her attention during the beginning, going around the ring heeling with all the other dogs. She gets bored with down/stays and long sit/stays. And gets far too excited with the stand for exam.
But, once she's switched into the on position, Noelle is a pure joy to behold. We loved this class. Both of us had a ball. Noelle wasn't nervous, and was just relaxed and happy, happy, happy the entire class.
The trainers at our new club make everything so clear. I understood what was working and what wasn't. It's the perfect balance of, what we're doing here is important focused work, but it's not a pressure cooker. It's the kind of place where Noelle can shine. I'm looking forward to next week.
Go Noelle, Go!