We had an APDT trial last Sun. We are working toward our ARCH, which is a combined title. You have to receive scores of 195 (out of a possible 210) in both level 1 and 2 in the same trial, and you have to do that 5 times. Sunday we MIGHT have finished.
In the first two classes, (morning trial) he was right between two Malamutes, both of whom were reactive and VERY noisy, even howling all the way around during their runs. The owners kept them from getting in trouble, but it took a lot of management on their parts. They were crating in their cars, so they weren't in the building except for right around the time of their run, but, unfortunately, Kodi was sandwiched right between them in the schedule. At one point in the course, we were pointed directly toward where the Mal was warming up (and howling) and the sign required a sit, followed by a stand. No problem with the sit, but then I had to try twice to get Kodi to stand and stay standing. After reading about calming signals that Carol introduced us to, I am POSITIVE that what was happening was that Kodi was trying to tell that dog, "Hey, I'm little and I'm not a threat, please calm down!" It only cost us a few points... we still Q'd in both runs, with scores of 203 and 206 and a 4th place for the 206.
Then in the afternoon trial, we had a good first run, another 206 for 4th place. (the Malamutes were gone!) But the judge put a sign on the course that Kodi and I have never done before. I don't know how we missed it in training, but it's not one that many judges put on the course because LOTS of dogs have trouble with it. You have to put your dog in a stay, then run away. While you are running, you call the dog to front. If the dog breaks the stay, it's an automatic NQ. I tried it several times outside the ring, and I'd say he was getting it about 75% of the time. To make things even more difficult, there was an "offset figure 8", which is 4 food bowls with screen over the top so the dogs can't get into them, that you need to figure 8 around, without the dog sniffing the bowls. (the judge made it particularly difficult by putting lamb lung in the bowls!)
When we got to that sign in the ring, I told him pretty firmly to stay. I certainly wasn't yelling at him, but I typically speak to him very quietly in the ring. As I ran away from him, he broke, then stopped and looked at me like, "Oh,oh. I did that WRONG!" I called him front and told him he was a good boy anyway, of course. But I know he was upset. You've seen the videos of him heeling, and know his typical attention. And he's usually good about the food bowls too, as long as I really get his attention before heading through them. After we started heeling again from the call front, he took off and went ACROSS THE RING to the food bowls. We had already NQ'd, of course, because he broke the stay, but I wasn't expecting that. I had a terrible time for the rest of the course; he kept leaving me and going over to the food bowls.
The judge said something to me on the way out of the ring about his surprising lack of attention, but I don't think that's what it was at all. I think he was upset about me speaking strongly to him, and then him doing the "wrong" thing. I think all the running off and sniffing was signs of stress, not basic inattention.
I felt bad that I put him in that position... I guess that's what he gets for having a first-time dog owner as a mom!
Anyway, The following two days, the only training we did was set up so that it was very easy and he couldn't make a mistake, followed by LOTS of rewards. Since then, we've practiced the stay and run away exercise a number of times, and I think he's got it now. We won't have that happen again!
And he did get one double Q in the morning, so only one set to go for his ARCH!