Yay Kodi! You guys are so fun to watch. I have my inspiration for the week. You know I always have questions after I watch you videos.
1- Does each competition have the same course? I know the signs stay the same, but do you need to learn a new course at each run?
2- I notice you don't give Kodi many treats during your run. I'm assuming when you started out you would treat more often?
3- What do you use for treats? Do you use different treats for competition and training?
4- Is that Kodi barking in the first video? If not, he's very focused and didn't even seem to hear it.
I couldn't figure out what you were handing to the judge in the third video until I saw Kodi retrieve his little dumbbell. Is that one of his favorite toys or just something you use for competition?
You should wear a microphone I think it's very helpful to listen to your timing for commands.
I also wish I could see the signs and what you have Kodi doing, some of those signs look so confusing. Are there any sites online that might show the signs and then a video of what the dog should be doing. Some of them are pretty straight forward, but some are pretty involved. I know in the beginning the signs are very straight forward, but some of those advance ones....phew!!!
I'm so excited I am finally having a fence guy coming this week to get my back yard secured. I work with Tim in the back yard but I'm always worried he'll lose concentration and want to visit my neighbor's dog, or chase a squirrel. I'm also excited for him to have some free running time with some of his smaller neighborhood buddies.
We start classes again next week. I think I need to start setting some goals for us to try and work towards. I think we'll try and tackle CGC first and see how that goes. I'm not sure therapy work is a good fit for Tim and Rally is so intimidating, I know Timmy is smart enough I'm not sure I'm smart enough.
Lots of questions!<g> I will answer them based on World Cynosport Rally, since that's what this trial was. There are some differences if it's AKC Rally, though it's similar. The biggest differences between AKC and WCR, IMO, is that in AKC, you can't use any food in the ring, but the courses are shorter and the individual exercises are MUCH easier.
1. The course is different every time. There is a set of signs for Level 1, then more signs added for level 2 (and the judge must include a certain number of Level 2 signs on a Level 2 course) and another group of signs added for level 3. The "bonus exercise" at the end is specific to the level.
BUT... You are given a map of the course(s) when you arrive at the trial. Then the judge briefs the class, telling you if there is something she wants performed a specific way, (for instance, if she's had to place a sign in a slightly different position than usual to avoid interfering with another part of the course) and answering any questions anyone has about the course.
The signs are numbered, which helps you stay on course, but you also get 10 minutes (more, if it's a really big trial with LOTS of competitors) to walk the course and plan how you will approach each exercise. In WCR, both the competitors AND the judges are GREAT about helping new competitors figure out signs, and how to watch for tricky turns, etc.
2. Even in WCR, even though you can use food or pat your dog, (neither of which is allowed in AKC) you can ONLY give treats in certain, specific places on the course. You can't just feed whenever you want. You can only treat (single treat) at the end of a stationary exercise, when the dog is in heel position. You also have to be VERY careful not to drop any food. any time a piece of food touches the floor, it's an automatic 3 point deduction. (this is actually a really good rule... otherwise, it would be really unfair for dogs working later to have to work over a treat-strewn floor and maintain attention!) Also, at level 2 & 3, ties are broken on time, and in a really competitive trial, it's not uncommon for the winning scores to be very very close. it takes time to stop and feed your dog. So, obviously, if you need to do it to keep them motivated, happy, and working, you do. But if the dog is working well, you'll get a faster time if you don't stop and treat.
WCR also offers two classes where you can use treats as often as you want, as long as they are REWARDS, not lures. Those classes are the puppy class, for dogs under one year of age, and the veteran's class for dogs over 8 years of age.
I treated Kodi more often at this trial than I normally would, because we had had two (AKC) trials a couple of months ago, where he got really worried and shut down. So my main goal was to make every run as fun for him as possible.
Obviously, during training you use treats a LOT more to encourage your dog, especially when they are just learning. Kodi is more experienced, so he doesn't need a ton of treats, even on a run-through course. But I'll still stop and reward good work more often (and in different places) than I would (or could!) in competition.During training now, I actually do the reverse of what we have to do at a trial. Since you can ONLY treat at stationary exercises at a trial, Kodi went through a phase of deciding he only needed to pay attention at signs. In between, he'd be very inattentive, figuring there were no treats coming until the next sign. So I completely stopped giving him treats at stationary exercises, and started rewarding good attention and excellent heeling BETWEEN exercises.
Another thing I LOVE about WCR is that if your dog is really struggling, you can turn to the judge, ask to "NQ" yourself, and pull out the treats and "train" around the rest of the course. Obviously, you are no longer being scored, but it becomes a learning experience for your dog. In AKC, there is no training allowed in the ring. You can excuse yourself, but you can't do anything to FIX a problem in the ring.
3. I try to change up my treats all the time. This happened to be those awful Natural Balance dog food rolls, cut in little cubes. For competition, it's important that the food is soft and small enough that they can swallow it quickly, without a lot of chewing. You also want something that's not crumbly, because, remember... if you drop any, it's 3 points off! I certainly don;t use the NB roll for regular training because I don't think it's particularly good food. But most dogs LOVE it. Another thing I use is pieces of frozen meatballs. (turkey meatballs for Kodi, since he can't eat beef) But I'll also use chicken, pork roast, turkey, low salt, organic chicken hot dogs... different things.
4. Oh, that was Kodi!
And he lost points for it. (and I actually thought the judge was generous... I thought we were going to loose MORE points than we did) I made a tactical error. As I said, I was very concerned about keeping him motivated and having fun. I USUALLY save the REALLY high value "junk food", like the NB roll for the end of a 2 day trial, when he might be getting a little tired. But because I wanted him excited and 'with me" from the get-go, I used the NB roll even for that first run. Obviously, it was a little TOO motivating for that point in time.
that's what both the barking AND the jumping on my leg was about. He scored well anyway... he got a 207 (out of 210) and was 5th in a class of over 20 dogs.
But, I have to say, he wouldn't have reacted to dogs barking outside the ring. He's been in a show environment for long enough that unless a dog is coming AT him, he's very good at tuning out background stuff.
The dumbbell is a regular dumbbell used for formal obedience retrieves. It's taken a LONG time to teach him a formal retrieve, and he's really close. (it took MONTHS to even get him to HOLD the dumbbell!) He can do it REALLY well with a sit box, but he hasn't QUITE learned to hold onto the dumbbell AND sit without the sit box. Again, one of the nice things in WCR is that you can ask the judge about a problem like this ahead of time, and see how they want you to handle it. The judge told me that if I took the dumbbell while he was standing, and asked him to sit immediately after, she'd only take one point off. So that's what I did!
There is no equivalent of the dumbbell exercise in AKC Rally, just in formal obedience, but in WCT, you don't HAVE to use a dumbbell... you can use anything that your dog will retrieve that doesn't have a squeaker. The first few time Kodi did Level 3, he wasn't using a dumbbell yet, so he retrieved a stuffed duck.<g> I like using the dumbbell now, because it's good practice for formal obedience, which he also does.
I don't know of any site on the web that shows the courses and then a dog running the course, but I can post a course map of one of Kodi's courses, and maybe you can match it up to his video. This is the Level 2 run on Sat., which is the first of the 3 I posted. I also posted a copy of his score sheet for that test so you can see what that looks like. You can't take the score sheet with you, but they are available to look at. I just snap a quick phone photo with my phone, so I can look at it at my leisure later on.
Remember, that this is more complicated than what you would be doing in Level 1 (or AKC Novice) and that Level 1 (and Novice) are done all on-leash. If you want to see the other two, I can post those also.