Holy, I set aside a blog post for a week and a month later I return…
Let me set the scene. It was August 27th and I was up far too early for a Sunday morning….Before 8:30 I had been out to grab tea and gas, walked Sheldon and Kingston, fed them, packed the crates in the car and other needed items (chopped treats, water) before my bestie Sophia met up with me and her pup Ebony to join in on the fun of Caro Rally. We started competing last year with our dogs and have tried to make as many trials as we can at The Poodle Farm because they are always so friendly and inviting. We learn more each time we attend and the dogs love it there! Debbie does a great job at hosting these trials and everything always runs so smoothly and on time.
Some people may not be familiar with Rally Obedience, so let me break it down. Rally Obedience isn’t quite as strict as regular Obedience. You are encouraged to talk to and provide positive feedback for you pooch. CARO Rally (What we did today) also allows you to feed your dog in Novice and Advanced. Once you are past Advanced, no more food in the ring is allowed. In CKC Rally, you are only allowed to verbally encourage your dog and not feed them.
There are pylons set around the ring with signs attached. The signs provide the behaviour you need to accomplish. Some signs are the normal speed or directional changes; normal, fast, slow, right turn, about turn, left turn, etc. Some signs specify positions you need to do; Sit-down, down-walk around, call front-finish right, call front-finish left halt, etc. Before your division runs you are allowed a 10 minute course walk with other competitors. You may ask the judge questions about signs if needed and practice sans-dog before bringing your partner into the ring. Once you are in the ring, a certain amount of repeats are allowed at station, but too many repeats will end up with a N/Q score. Courses are judged with a score out of so many and highest score wins. If there is a tie on scores, the faster competitor wins.
I find the atmosphere in CARO to be far more relaxed and easy going then CKC. Since you are allowed to feed (governed by rules of course; food must be kept in opposite pocket, you must hand treats from right to left hand, and you can only feed on signs that have a HALT in them) it is amazing for introducing dogs to dog sports! I am all about competing, however if my dogs aren’t having fun is there still a point of pursuing it? I am about relationship; I want to enjoy time with my dog, after all he didn’t put the entry form in, I did!
Kingston’s first round was a bit rocky as he familiarized himself with the routine; by rocky I mean there was a few signs we missed the first time and went back to repeat. Everything he did today was enthusiastic and wonderful! Not once did I lose him to sniffing which has happened in the past and is our biggest struggle in CKC obedience.
By the second trip King had everything in the bag and it was handler error that had us miss a few signs. In every trip he was loose, wiggly and had a blast; he fired over the jump each time taking it with more speed then really needed but he did it the right way (well after the first drive by and spin back to jump)
All and all, I am SO happy with how today went. Kingston is young, only two and we have years to develop. I am looking at how he is doing in pieces vs the large picture. Everyone small piece that comes together adds to that big picture.
My biggest piece of advice? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Encourage don’t punish; punishment can create avoidance which then slows your dog down on a behaviour ( a slow sticky down vs a quick and attentive down) and most of all, HAVE FUN.
**Our first trip in the ring. I did not crop any footage or delete anything so you can see how we trained and developed. I just really wished I filmed our second or third round so you could see how we progressed!