One of the reasons I write this blog is to represent the "not so great" dog trainer. I am fairly new to dog training. I have Samoyeds, which are not supposed to be that easy to train. I don't train often enough. I'm not as organized or dedicated as I would like to be. I have had some real train wrecks in the ring.
All that being said - I really wanted to put a simple little novice obedience title on Jazz. I was told that anyone can get a CD. Maybe that was meant to be encouraging, but it really put the pressure on when I failed miserably the first time we went into the obedience ring. I was also told that I would never put a CD on my dog because I didn't train him properly, wouldn't use a pinch collar, or just was too green to train a "difficult" breed. I have had judges look at me as I walked into the Novice A ring and sneer, "Novice A with a Sammy? Are you sure?" I am not dedicated, organized, etc, but I am very stubborn and it made me mad to be told we couldn't do this.
I am here to tell you that it was touch and go from the start. A smarter person would have given up. A kinder person would have let poor Jazz off the hook. He is miserable in the obedience ring. He works nicely in practice. We can get a bunch of dogs distracting him, I can put the treats away, he will heel in the food aisle at Petco on a Sunday afternoon. We walk into that obedience ring and I get nervous. We have done so poorly and I have let my disappointment show. I never yelled at him or treated him badly, but he can tell when I am disappointed. The combination of nerves and repeated failures have left him unsure and unhappy. I just hate being so dumb!
We managed to get two legs over the last twelve tries. (Yes - we have tried twelve times!) Both of those scores were in the 170s. Jazz has never lost a single point on a stand for exam, only failed the recall about three or four times by running past me and gazing longingly over the ring gate, failed one sit stay by laying down, and failed one down stay by returning to me. Get the picture? We CANNOT heel in the ring. We are getting better out of the ring, but we have failed the heel on leash! YIKES!
Last Sunday I hauled my poor sad boy into the obedience ring once again. He lagged miserably and never sat down once, but we did not fail. I always have to laugh because he won't sit during the heeling exercises and then does a lovely finish with a snappy little sit at the end. After we were done, I asked the judge if we had qualified and she laughed and said yes. She kept laughing. She said that as soon as we were done, Jazz heeled beautifully over to where she was standing and sat the minute I stopped. It really is funny, but he is great when it no longer counts. We can all bet that the problem is me and not him.
Thirteen must be my lucky number. We qualified and earned our CD. I always imagined that we would go in the ring and have that lovely moment when it all came together and we did a nice job. (I never had to worry about first place. We are often the only novice A dog in the ring.) That did not happen. We just squeaked by and got a Q.
I was absolutely thrilled. I really wanted this. I will never take Jazz into the novice ring again. We are going to learn the open exercises. I like practicing obedience and so does Jazz. Maybe I can find a way to get him happy about obedience trials. I think we'll try a few fun matches before I commit to entering open. I would really hate to decide I HAVE to get an open title. The poor dog doesn't deserve to be tortured because I don't know when to quit.
Those of you who earned your CD with ease - count your blessings and remember that none of this is easy.