It seems my quiet word with Polly last week, may well have done the trick. Obedience school went pretty well today and Polly noticeably turned on the charm for her heel work, tuning in to my instructions and clip clopping alongside me like a little angel ...
Miss Polly also managed to stop fidgeting for long enough to complete a full 'down stay' at distance too (and believe me, there was a time I thought that would never happen!) We're still working towards me being 'out of sight' while her ladyship stays put, but so far, so good.
Polly has been attending school for a year now, so she's become used to Kevin's (instructor) commands and will sometimes pre-empt them. Today, during the 'downs, sit and stays, with formal recalls' exercise, she was cheekily performing a 'down' as soon as she heard the code word 'blue'. I pointed this out, so Kevin changed code words, making Polly listen harder (before she could get too big for her boots!) It wasn't long ago that Poll was fairly easily distracted during this exercise and I was anxious she would run off to disturb the other dogs, but today she did everything exactly as I asked - progress indeed!
The aspect of training I was most happy with today, happened during our 'off lead group walk'. Polly was her usual excitable self on arrival despite her pre-school walk. She launched into lively play with young Otis (lab) and Hugo (cocker spaniel), but after one firm correction early on, I spied her running with the other dogs having fun, but leaving the rougher play to the two younger dogs. When the boys became overly excited, she even came away when I asked her to, returning to me like a good girl while the boys were having a right old bundle on the field AND she obliged me with a very polite down stay! As far as Polly is concerned, this is an improvement in play behaviour and one I've been praying we might eventually achieve. I think with a little more maturity under her belt and lots more work on recalls with distraction, somewhere in the hopefully-not-too-distant-future we might achieve a reliable recall when there are other dogs in the vicinity (and a less frantic level of play in general).
Speaking of which ...
For the second time running, we failed to achieve the agility course leader board. Why? Well, probably my lack of faith in being able to keep enough of Polly's focus off lead on the course without treats didn't help, but aside from that, people and other dogs are far more interesting to Poll at present. She sat calmly by the starter pole while I unclipped her lead, thinking 'come on Poll, you can do this' - after all, she'd done pretty well on the equipment previously, even tackling the scary big seesaw with steady grace! On my first command, Poll leapt over the hurdles, ran through the tunnel ... then continued running to the other side of the field to say hello to Otis! Course abandoned, recalls ignored!
Which neatly sums up why I haven't been allowing Polly to run free wherever there are unknown dogs on our daily walks, (unless she is off lead with a friend because then she's happy to run with her pal and not bother too much with other dogs). Poll now has a good solid recall when just the two of us are out and about and she is usually good at recalling from play with other dogs on the school training field these days, but as yet, I am still not completely convinced I can trust my sociable miss not to tune me out when other dogs distract her in the real world. And to think, one of the main reasons I chose the golden retriever breed was their reputation for being very friendly!!!! Lol!
All in all, I think it's fair to say we had a pretty good session today - definitely more fun than last week and I can definitely see progress in some of the trickier areas ... good girl Poll! :-)