Friday, 26 September 2014

Obedience: the pros and cons

Waking up with the a migraine didn't bode well for this week's training session, so I swigged a couple of painkillers before Poll and I set off, thanked my lucky stars the roadworks on Detling Hill had been cleared away and kept my fingers crossed for a clear run along the narrow winding country road out to the training field ... (which for once, worked!)

It was one of those sessions when I came away afterwards feeling a little flat, as if we'd slipped back a bit.  However, when I put everything into perspective overnight, I came to the conclusion that wasn't quite fair of me.

So, here we go with a quick summary of our training pros and cons!


1: Great recalls on group walk.  Swift responses. Yay!

2: Happy friendly play on group walk, nothing overtly boisterous. Big group and new dogs to deal with too!

3: Sound focus and good effort on heel work on first course. Delighted with Poll's off leading - coming along nicely.

4: Big scary agility seesaw mastered. Well done Polly! Also nice steady walkway and speedy fun A frame. Managed a couple of fluid sequences of equipment groups and a several neat little recalls between tasks. When we finally identified her left shoulder (I'm easily confused!) Poll also did pretty well weaving the big poles.

5: Sits 'n stays with recalls and downs were reasonable - especially given close proximity of other dogs.

6: Although Poll was fidgety on her down stays from time to time, she did stay in situe each time when corrected - no racing off.

7: Shortening distance because of close proximity of other dogs and pals either side, meant Poll achieved formal 'down stay' for the duration of exercise. Phew!


1: I completely cobbled the directions for second heel work course and managed to tangle poor Poll's feet in her lead.  Oops!

2: Control sporadic on agility - felt as though I was battling at times when Polly sniffed determinedly and pulled.

3: Lost control on agility when Polly shot through tyre and across the field to say hello to a pal ... then repeated her escape to say hello to another pal a few minutes later!

4: Polly fidgety on her downs at times, pre-empting my return to her side by sitting before asked.

Now that I have read our list of pros and cons, I see the reason I felt a bit negative yesterday was mostly due to struggling with control during agility and feeling less than enthusiastic when Poll took matters into her own paws.  My little monkey seems to have reverted on the agility work lately and with a thumping bonce, it felt more of a challenge than usual.  On balance, our pros far outweighed our cons, but the cons were mainly control issues which I'd love to iron out, so after all the hard work we've put in, I was a wee bit frustrated.

They say dogs look like their owners but I'm not so sure about that, nonetheless I am learning that Polly is very much like me in nature ... she always puts a load of effort into the stuff she really enjoys, but will do whatever she can to avoid the rest!  (I seem to remember reading something similar from my English teacher on an end of term report many, many, years ago - I guess some personality traits never change eh?!)

More importantly than a list of pros and cons, Polly always tries her best at home with me and takes her cues from me.  When I think back to when we started obedience training just over a year ago, those four cons listed above now seem like minor nit picks.  One thing's certain, PE was never my thing at school, so maybe Poll feels similarly about some aspects of the agility course?!

One thing I do know for sure: my gorgeous girl is definitely no 'robo-dog' and I am far from a 'robo-trainer'!  I wonder if we are ever likely to reach that giddy obedience height?  Somehow I doubt it! Lol!

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