This was the second week of Riot’s beginning field training class.
He was supposed to take this class last year, but he got sick after the first class and we had to drop. In this case, it probably worked out for the best because I think both of us are a lot more ready for the class this year.
We started out on water yesterday and the first retrieve was of a Doken. We have a doken at home, but I’ve never managed to get much interest in it from either dog. We had one to familiarize the dogs with before we went up to the line. Riot really wanted nothing to do with it and I had to result to force fetching him to get him to hold it. Which he did quite nicely and even with lots of praise, he was not happy to be holding it.
Since we had limited success with the introduction (re-introduction), I was worried what would happen on water. Riot does seem to be having some confidence issues when it comes to distance on water. He did launch himself right in on the first throw (which was the doken from a winger). And swam nearly all the way out but got distracted by a bug, snapped at the bug and then came back.
He doesn’t respond really well to “hey, hey, hey” and once his focus is lost, it’s really hard to get him to go back (both in water and on land).
We did a couple of shorter throws with him with the dokens and we went out and got them and brought them back each time. He even brought them out of the water, but his hold did fall through after that.
We then tried the bumper from the other station, which again was too far out. He was very hesitant leaving the shore on that throw and wouldn’t commit. A couple of shorter throws and we got him out to the bumpers. He does seem a lot more easily spooked on water than on land. His hold still wasn’t as solid as I’d like with the bumpers, but I did get the bumpers before they hit the ground.
Up next was land. We worked on line manners some and he’s doing pretty well. The first throw was very reminiscent of last week. He ran a little further toward the bumper before getting distracted and starting to sniff, I had to walk most of the way out to the bumper before he went oh hey this is what I’m supposed to do. He dropped it about half way back and I was having none of it. Even though Roger was telling me not to worry about it. I was putting that bumper back in his mouth and he was going to walk the rest of the way back to the line holding it — which he did quite nicely.
Roger then did a really short throw with him and he went out, retrieved it, and brought it back to heel position very nicely. Finally!
We then did a throw that entered a bit of cover up a fairly steep hill, and Riot when right out, found it after a tiny search and brought it back holding all the way.
We got to repeat the marks a little while later and he did so much better on them. The first one he dropped almost right in front of me, and I was going to put it in his mouth and Roger stopped me and said to back up a few more steps and make him pick it up. Which he did and returned to me with it. The last mark was nearly picture perfect with his hold and return to heel :)
Finally Riot got to be used as a demo dog as a dog that had a pretty good hold already. He did really well letting Roger work with him even with his tail going a mile a minute. I think we were moments away from a complete wiggly mess, but he got through it and he held it except for one drop when no one was paying any attention to him, but it was just what was needed as part of the demo session.
Overall I was thrilled, we do need to work on focus and confidence. Sue suggested I stay after and get someone to throw longer and longer marks on water for him. But I wanted to end of the high note of his last retrieves on land. Hopefully I can either get him out this week to work some on distance or if we get there early next week get some throws in.