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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Your first trial

Titan just turned 15 months and I'm looking at trying for his BH in February. There is a trial about 5 hours away and it would be my first time trailing a dog.
We still have some things to work on like his long down, and his focus during heel work.
How far away do I have to stand from him in the long down?
He does okay, but last weekend at training, he broke when the person doing OB did a recall facing him, so we have that to work on. Also, him engaging me during his heel. He also will sit crooked sometimes during recall so we need to work on that.

But tell me about the first time you trialled your dog. How did it go? We're you nervous at all?
I'm worried about failing, to be honest. Or embarrassing myself, or both.
Should I sweat the small stuff?
The new trainer I, working with is helping me with the focusing, and I, trying to find places other than training to practice our long down.

Can you give me any advice? I Do plan on going out and enjoying myself and my dog, but I would be a little disappointed in myself if we didn't pass.
I feel like he has all the potential to do well, I just don't have all the tools to teach him. But I'm working with people who do .
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 06:17 PM
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Know the routine DTS. That way you can just do it. If you forget it, its easy to lose your dog. Make sure you can mingle casually through a crowd with him and that he's fine with having a micro chip scanner passed over him.

There's probably a certain amount of paces by rule for the long down, but its generally marked on the field, where you will down the dog and the judge generally directs you on where to go.

On my Rott's BH I was nervous about the long down. The Rott we were paired with and he had a little history. Another thing you may want to do if possible, practice reporting in with the dog you'll be paired with or at least another dog. Practice heeling on the left and the right side of the other dog.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 06:44 PM
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Yes. Practice heeling on the field to report in with another dog!!! Never though I had an issue until the first time we did this, as I was preparing for my BH. Appearantly I had an issue.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 06:53 PM
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Something else to think about with the long down DTS, HEEL him to the position, with attention. Don't just stroll over there. Sit him, calmly take off your leash and look at the judge for the cue to down him. Down him with a firm command. Have his attention all the way, through each step.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 06:55 PM
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Of course I was nervous!

Ironhide was my very first working dog - the VERY first dog I earned a title with. I actually did a Rally'O trial prior to my BH, to gain a bit of confidence and get a handle on my ring nerves LOL

I had my mentor/Trainer and my breeders, plus a whole club I had never met before watching me. I DID not want to fail - and sure as heck didn't want to let me breeders down. (Being best friends with them now I know I wouldn't have anyways). We passed with flying colors, judges comment "One of the best BH routines he has ever seen".

But here is how the BH was described to me when I went in with my male:

The BH is a temperament test - NOT a trial readiness test. Yes, have your obedience in place. But you are there to showcase the natural ability and natural temperament of your working dog. Don't overthink it. I also love my judge for my IPO 3 (my very first LOL) he said "You are trialing on your home field (I wasn't, but he didn't know that), so relax, have fun and show me what you guys can do!".

My tips:

1) Walk that pattern, without your dog, until you can feel the paces, not have to count them anymore.

2) Don't train the pattern to your dog until you have it bang on. When you first teach it, break it up into sections. Don't forget to reward your dog at random intervals.

3) Bring your dog to the busiest area you can. Walk the pattern on leash - learn to block out the distractions and people watching you. Use a busy street to practice the traffic test. Have a friend stand near your dog for the out of sight stay, so they can make sure no one bugs your dog.

4) Practice the long down under very heavy distraction. Other dogs playing with their handler, being recalled, chasing frisbees. We practiced with one dog in the down the other handler purposely trying to recall the dog out of the stay, having the other handler jump their dog over my dogs back while in a down. Myself working another dog with my other dog in down. ANYTHING you can think of, get creative.

5) Practice checking in!

6) Try to remember when you get out there - its just another day of training. Strive to achieve your personal best with your dog, but I always say to myself "If me and the dog aren't having fun, there is no point in being here". Because really, I want to love competing with my dog - I am always trying to outscore myself! That way it stays fun and I always support the other competitiors.

Good luck! Let us know the outcome!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 06:59 PM
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My first trial, I was a nervous wreck. The people I trained with at the time were not supportive either, so that played into it on trial day.
My dog was up with a Presa and that dog took forever to do the heeling pattern. So our long down was about double what it should have been. Then when we did our routine, the Presa didn't hold his down, and just basically rolled around, being a clown. Everyone was laughing and I was so nervous, I thought they were laughing at me.
Soo...my advice is to read the rules and know them, know the number of the paces, do the routine several times without your dog!
Breathe and think positive. Try to get that down proofed before you trial. It isn't fair to the other team if your dog messes up their routine. And you never know, the other dog may be a bit aggressive, and nobody wants to deal with that during a trial.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 07:28 PM
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My first BH was two states away. I was a nervous wreck as I always am for any trial (I had trialed quite a bit in other sports and with a different dog before my first BH). My friend did the heeling before me. The judge was an old German guy and was a total perv (making comments about various females' cleavage or rears and I'm not talking about the dogs) and started shouting to her in German. Luckily I understood his German and was then helping to translate (he has some weird thing about how you setup the dog between the out of motion exercises). That actually put me at ease a bit, took my mind off the trial. It was also extremely hot and humid though I think he arranged the long downs so they were in the shade. Several of the BH dogs also did an AD even though it was hotter than allowed in the rules so all the dogs were dragging. My friend and I both passed. Other than nerves and the heat affecting all dogs and people, the actual trial part wasn't so bad since the club was trialing for SchH titles the following day and most people were busy with the AD so there wasn't more than 4-5 people watching (just the people doing the group).

My advice would be to find out if the judge you're trialing under has any specific things they are picky about. A friend of mine failed a BH recently because the judge had some strange idea of how one of the traffic test exercises should be done even though her OB was fine and I know there is nothing wrong with her dog's temperament.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 07:43 PM
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My first BH, very first trial, was with my rescue. She pretty much had no self-control and was dog reactive, and impulsive, that is why I started doing intense training with her - I had been in the club two months before our first trial. When my trainer first approached me with the suggestion that we do our BH, I thought NO WAY! NO WAY we could even so much as attention heel 50 paces off leash, let alone everything else.

But with a lot of work and a lot of help, it all came together. Wasn't the prettiest of BH's, but she held her long down, did all the exercises, and heeled like a champ. One of my proudest moments!!!

Lucia


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by DTS View Post
Titan just turned 15 months and I'm looking at trying for his BH in February. There is a trial about 5 hours away and it would be my first time trailing a dog.
We still have some things to work on like his long down, and his focus during heel work.
How far away do I have to stand from him in the long down?
He does okay, but last weekend at training, he broke when the person doing OB did a recall facing him, so we have that to work on. Also, him engaging me during his heel. He also will sit crooked sometimes during recall so we need to work on that.

But tell me about the first time you trialled your dog. How did it go? We're you nervous at all?
I'm worried about failing, to be honest. Or embarrassing myself, or both.
Should I sweat the small stuff?
The new trainer I, working with is helping me with the focusing, and I, trying to find places other than training to practice our long down.

Can you give me any advice? I Do plan on going out and enjoying myself and my dog, but I would be a little disappointed in myself if we didn't pass.
I feel like he has all the potential to do well, I just don't have all the tools to teach him. But I'm working with people who do .
First of all, great job sticking it out and getting this far with your dog. The vast majority of people who start the sport never make it to the point of actually trialing their dog.

In your first trial (and really every subsequent trial), you will be nervous. There is no getting around that. The key is to keep it as close to a normal training session as possible. Many people lose their dogs on trial day because they present a completely different picture than they do on the day of the trial. The dog realizes quickly that you are nervous and they are not being rewarded, so in many instances they check out. To prevent that, leading up to the trial present the trial picture in your training (check in with judge, have somebody follow you like the judge, practice taking leash on and off, practice waiting, etc...). Make it as close as you can, and really vary your reward schedule.

You mentioned a couple of the issues you have been having with your dog. For sure work the long down and the focus in the heeling. Do not nitpick your other behaviors (crooked front). A crooked front will not cause you to fail, but a broken long down combined with your dog not being focused and with you may.

The possibility does exist that your dog may do something that will embarrass you. My very first dog decided that she didn't want to heel on my left side and heeled on my right side of half of the off leash heeling routine. Everybody has been there, so if they do something to embarrass you, you're hardly the first. The main thing is to just have control of your dog. Showing unprovoked aggression or being out of control are the main things that will get you failed. Most judges are very lenient on BHs and can still pass making quite a few mistakes.

Good luck, it sounds like you are happy with the trainers you are working with. Follow their instruction and go out there and get it done!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 11:21 PM
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My first BH I was quite nervous though not as bad as the first time I trialed a dog in AKC OB. At least by the time I did my first BH I had trialed dogs before. The whole night before I actually had dreams counting steps in my sleep. My first FH, though, I was so nervous that I screwed up my dog and caused us to fail.

Know the rules inside and out so you don't freeze up on trial day. The judge is your friend and most will help if you get lost (though knowing the rules is just good trial etiquette and polite). SMILE, have fun, and don't turn into a zombie that your dog can not recognize. Maintain your pace during the heeling. Remember to thank the group.

Steve's recommendation for the long down is very good.

BTW, I still count my steps after all these years. I never want to lose points because I am short steps. It also helps me maintain pace.

Lisa Clark

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