Well, we're officially going to try Open again.
Scorch and I are signed up for Orlando on April 14th and 15th. I haven't been pushing the jumping issues much; we've spent a lot of time working on calm behavior around the dumbbell or other stimulation. When we get into "work mode", he's doing a lot better keeping the vocalizing to a minimum. But he is still engaging in his high-pitched keening at other times, which worries me a bit.
We went to the Marina again yesterday. I taught a private lesson first to a student whose dog was getting reactive on lead. We walked around the park and worked on his attention, then I brought out Scorch. The dogs are buddies, but he reacted out of excitement when he saw him too. Anyway, as we walked around, Scorch would occasionally start his keening when we stopped. He was overstimulated I suppose and that's what brought it on, but it's very hard to get him to "come down" when he gets like that.
But after some more walking and some obedience, he settled so I suppose there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
When the lesson was over, I did a mini run-through with Scorch. I didn't do much warm-up, and his heeling was terrible at first. We did an L-shape starting with a slow (he hates that), left turn, halt, about turn, right turn, fast, halt. We did the entire, unsatisfactory pattern, then re-did it. He was nicer the second time, although forge-y.
We did a figure 8 around two dumbbells. Again, the first go around was crummy but after that he was on. He heeled a bit wide at times but I liked that better than bumping and interfering.
I left the dumbbells on the ground and we moved to a drop on recall. He's having trouble with that one and dropping late. So I've started moving towards him when I call "down" and weaning off of the movement.
We did 2 retrieves on the flat and he was AWESOME. No whining or carrying on, went right out and came right back. His turns are a little wide after he picks up the dumbbell, which is probably part of the problem with retrieve over the jump. In practice, I'm calling "jump!" on his way back and hopefully we can drop that soon.
He did some nice stays, even with all the dogs walking around and people watching us. We have some work to do but I'm hoping we can polish those rough edges that have come up. We also practiced some Utility gloves; he shakes the glove on the way in so we tried a friend's glove with pebbles in it to break the shaking. I've also been balling our gloves up and he's not shaking them as much.
Scent articles are still on the pegboard but Lisa wants me to graduate to string instead of zip ties. Scorch still makes occasional "honest mistakes" when the wind is blowing or when my helper puts the scented dumbbell very close to the unscented. He'll sometimes pick up the one right next to the correct answer... but he's sniffing carefully and I'm not even scenting my hands with treats. It is absolutely amazing to watch him work through this.
Goals for this week are entirely centered around jumping. We have our new, lightweight broad jumps to try out, and I'm going to work hard on directed jumping and crooked retrieves.
So this entry isn't entirely photo-less, here is a picture of a Silkie chicken at our county fair. I. WANT. ONE. I want chickens anyway for eggs and because they make great pets, but this breed is just amazing to look at.