Sunday morning I took Tom to a training session with Nancy and Andy Hudson at Dartford, I was a bit apprehensive as I wasn’t sure that his concentration would last for a 3 hour stint and I didn’t what to make everyone else wait why he went on a sniff-a-thon especially as the venue was an indoor riding school. I had thought about taking Suzi instead but at the last minute decided to take Tom as I knew both Andy and Nancy break things down in to nice manageable chunks which meant I could carry on with praising him every 3-4 obstacles. Well I’m really glad I took him as he worked his little socks off, only went for a couple of sniffs but came as soon as I called him. Nancy said to not correct him if things didn’t go quite to plan but to carry on to keep him interested, this really worked as a couple, well more than a couple, of times my handling gave him mixed signals and sent him wide or past jumps. Some things I know but forgot were picked up on so I’m going to really try and remember to work the dogwalk behind him and not race ahead as this really slows him down. This is going to be hard as both Dudley and Suzi are chasers and work better if I’m ahead of them or right with them, this isn’t the case with Suzi all the time but she does sometimes need to be really encouraged by having me close to her.
The great thing about the session was that the dogs were all small with one medium which meant we weren’t putting jumps up and down all the time and could all benefit from watching each other, I think this is important as the large dogs have such different stride patterns and you can’t always run a small or medium dog the same way as you would a large dog even if you have one that has a very high drive and works ahead of you.
Although we had over and hour with each instructor I didn’t feel that we overdid anything so the dogs didn’t switch off and most of them were as fresh at the end as they were at the beginning although you could see that some of the dogs were getting a bit tired, I stopped with Tom about 15 minutes before the end as I could see that he was starting to flag a bit and wanted to finish on a good run and not go just a bit too far and finish on a down.
Tom did some really good weaving in the first half, with Nancy, really focusing ahead and fast with me able to work a bit further away but when we swapped it was as if he couldn’t so them at all and although he was getting the entry he just ran straight out, I thought he’s had enough then but Andy said to stay and gave me slightly different exercises which didn’t include the weaves. We worked on sections of a course then towards the end we did the whole course, I skipped that bit as I didn’t want to push my luck.
Afterwards I went to the Harvester for lunch with one of the other handlers then went home and collapsed, I don’t know about Tom being tired but I was knackered.