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Discussion Starter #1
Hoping this thread will become an ongoing progress thread of our successes and challenges.

One of my goals getting a poodle was to become involved in dog sports, but finding classes ended up way harder than planned.

Annie and I have finally found a class that works for both of us. We are now in a rally beginners course which is a good challenge for both of us. There are only 3 dogs in the class which is awesome, so lots of one on one time with the instructor.

Annie -my Annie, who used to try and bust out and scream- is loving going into her crate in between ring time, and all the treats she is getting for NOT reacting to another dog wailing. I have a sheet tossed on top, so she lies down with her nose at the bottom to peer out a bit and smell, but doesn't get too overwhelmed. I am enjoying us getting a chance to practice calm behaviour around crazy dogs, and ignoring other dogs while working.

As of the second class (third time in this building) Annie is THRILLED to get into the ring. So excited that as we were going in for our second class, there was another dog from the class waiting outside pulling towards us; Annie glanced at the dog, glanced at me, and walked to the door and demand-sat to ask to go in, ignoring the other dog completely.

I am really enjoying having a good instructor to critique what I am doing and give helpful tips about how to improve. The instructor is so far really good at tailoring advice to the different people and dogs in the class and has a ton of experience.

Annie and I are now working on:
1) Getting Annie's head more forward when heeling (me adjusting how I hold my hand)
2) Getting straighter sits (she wants to be cocked off to the side if I turn at all, so I have been more strict with criteria for reward and practicing turns with a wall) and changing where I reward the sit.
3) Back end awareness/movement for better turns (perch work and heeling around tight corners/furniture)
4) Of course, all the signs that are being introduced each week.

I am now working on :
1) Walking way faster. The other two dogs seem to be ok with a rather slow walk while their handlers carefully read the signs, Annie focuses best with me at about 1.5 x my normal walking speed. At that speed, we (ok, I) make a few more mistakes but she is ON - heeling becomes a rewarding game in itself for her, treats are secondary. Then maintaining that pace evenly.
2) Remembering to actually tell her what I want before I move rather than expect my psychic poodle to figure it out.
3) Not stepping on Annie's feet during heeling or turns, which definitely makes her less inclined to heel closely!

So far the hardest signs for us are halt, pivot 90 left and halt, side step right, halt. I am sure we will find more that are challenging as more are introduced!

We are very far from competing. And I worry that there will be another lockdown coming in the next few weeks that will interrupt classes. But, after a whole bunch of setbacks trying to find classes, it's great to finally start.

Hoping in a year I can look back on this thread and say 'wow, we have gone so far'.
 

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Sounds like you’re doing great work.

If there is a shut down, check out the AKC rally videos on how to perform each rally sign.
 
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All of that is just marvelous! I hope you can keep up with classes, but as Skylar said there are those really nice videos on rally signs produced by AKC. Most of the demo teams are judges with their dogs. Please keep this thread going. Rally has been a really terrific activity for me and Lily to enjoy together. I am sure it will be for you and Annie too.
 
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Yes! I have been watching videos online for our practices at home. Very useful to be able to cut the speed down to half or less to see what's going on.
 

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We just finished our 4th class. Annie is still having a lot of fun, as am I.

Victories:
- No crying in her crate the whole class, despite the other dogs crying for a lot of the class (and i have been decreasing reward frequency by a lot).
-Lying down with her head on her paws in the crate, without being asked.
  • Trying to get into her crate even before it was finished being set up.
  • The last two classes have been things we have practiced before on our own and are part of our normal day to day walks/training (finishes, fronts, sits, downs, etc), so she's done really well at the actual rally part. Almost all the rest of the signs we have also tried before.
  • She is doing great at ignoring the other dogs while we are working in the ring and they are also in the ring.
  • We are slowly working towards the level of my high school dog (last dog of my own), where heeling and turns are fun and a reward in themselves.
  • I moved to no bait bag and ball in back pocket for our last run-through.


Challenges:
  • I STILL can't do a left pivot at a halt with her unless we are going around a corner of a wall, and I stepped on her again during a left turn today. Sorry puppy!!!
  • She lags a lot while heeling, and was rather distracted today.
  • After two accidental and coincidental cases of spotting food on the floor (not even getting it) she has decided left finish now means wander off to check for cookies on the floor. Sigh. Gonna have to practice that one.
  • Still working on straighter and closer sits at the heel.
  • She is way less food motivated than the other dogs in class. I have to bring her ball out to keep her attention by the second half of class.
  • Took a look and the CKC signs are different than the CARO signs we are learning. Different and about 10 more signs, but many of the novice CARO signs are considered intermediate or advanced in CKC. So more than 10 additional signs. Gah. Yes, I can learn them, but the overlap is less than I had hoped. There are probably half a dozen CKC trials within 2 hours of us including two within an hour, no CARO trials within probably 3 hours.

We seem to do a lot better at heeling and attention in the intro section while learning new things, even with the other dogs around. I think part of the issue is the ring is very small, so there's not much heeling between signs in a course, sometimes only a few strides so I don't pick up my pace enough. There are only 4-6 signs during the introduction, so we have more space to move between signs.
 

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Try using a cone as a marker for doing the left pivot. That should help.

It sounds like you are having a great time and learning fun things. What's not to love about rally?
 

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I am eagerly waiting until our training center offers rally. I don’t think that will happen until Covid settles down but that is next on our list for some fun stuff! I think Bobby would do well with it. We did an Agility for fun class last winter, pretty low key introductory class but he seemed to love it and he did very well. He does fairly well with Obedience so I think rally might be a pretty good fit for him and for me. 😊 Sounds like you guys are having fun!
 
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