Monday, March 4, 2013

Trick Dogs!

Another good Rally trial for Pongu this past weekend! He NQ'ed his first Level 2 run on a jump run-out -- he ran past the jump uprights by about 6 inches, then realized his mistake, turned back, and took the jump cleanly... but that's a disqualification, even if he literally only passed the uprights by a nose.

He did well on his remaining runs, though, taking home scores of 200 (1B), 200 (2B), and a perfect 210!! in his second 1B run.

That is Pongu's first ever perfect score in Rally Obedience, and also his first placement in the ribbons at Championship level. I am so proud of him for earning it, especially since that was the last run of the day and he was completely exhausted to the point of nodding off under a raffle table in the waiting area. But, even though he was bone-tired, he was still willing to jump up and work hard when called upon.

We have another trial in about two weeks, which will be the last one before Pongu's third birthday. Alas, with the NQ on his first L2 run, my dreams of earning Pongu's ARCH before he turns 3 are dashed. It's just not going to happen. He might get his RL1X -- which would still make him a "champion" before the magic day -- but the ARCH is the one I really wanted. Oh well. He'll get it soon enough.

In the meantime, I'm scouring about for something else to teach Dog Mob this spring and summer. Because of some tight upcoming book deadlines, I don't expect to have time to take any formal classes for a while, and anyway Crookytail needs work and isn't currently suited for a class environment, much less a trial ring.

So it looks like Trick Dog may be our ticket.

Trick Dog, developed by Kyra Sundance (author of 101 Dog Tricks and other books), is a nifty program that allows dogs to earn Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert Trick Dog titles at home, working at their own speed, in front of any witness.

Because the dog isn't required to perform in a competition ring or in front of an unfamiliar judge, and you're allowed as many tries as you need, it's a no-stress way to have fun and accomplish titles with a fearful, reactive, or otherwise challenging dog who might not be able to function in the noisy, unfamiliar, dog-filled arena required for other sports. You can choose which tricks you want to perform off a long list of options, allowing a great deal of flexibility in working with your dog's preferences and limitations (for example, Pongu would never in a million years want to skateboard -- it's noisy! it's unstable! it's just too scary! -- but he can fetch a tissue and toss it in a wastebasket just fine).

And that lack of pressure makes Trick Dog just right for Crookytail, I think. No trials, no competition pressure, no strict criteria about straight Fronts or sharp Sits. Just the fun part of learning for him, and maybe a couple of certificates to add to his section of the trophy wall.

We'll give it a shot and see how it goes.

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