With only a few weeks before the upcoming Obedience Trials, I’m struggling to control my anxiety. Athena, who won the Novice trial last November, setting a record as being the first white GSD and the first clicker-trained dog to win an obedience competition in Jamaica, will be entering the Beginners Class.
There’s some improvement to her performance. I’ve finally managed to straighten her fronts, which for the most part were crooked, except for the fluke moments when she did a straight front. Such fluke moment happened at the last show, but at this level, I cannot rely on such moments. I need to be sure that she will come in straight regardless of where she’s positioned in relation to me for the recall.
Her jumps, on the other hand, cause me some concern. She successfully clears the high jump at 24 inches (approximately); however, that’s below the required 32 inches for the show. The regulation height set by the Jamaica Kennel Club is too high for a beginner obedience dog. The heights for The American Kennel Club are lower, especially for large breed dogs.
As no one at The Jamaica Kennel Club seems in too much of a hurry to reconsider the height of the jumps, I have no option but to condition Athena to clear these heights. I make haste with her slowly, however. My philosophy with training pet dogs is to go as fast as the dog is willing and capable to go. I will not risk injuring the dog by raising the bar, literally and figuratively, too high too fast.
Last week I tried raising the jump height a full inch. Athena willingly took the jump, but her back legs consistently knocked the bar. That’s an automatic disqualification at the Beginner’s level. So, I lowered the height once more to the point where she could jump without knocking the bar, and gradually raised it a 1/4 inch at a time until I got her back to the original 24 inches.
It’s hard, laborious work, and requires patience on my part. Now, patience is a virtue that I possess in limited quantities. I want a CDX on this dog, NOW. But I keep asking myself when I’m tempted to push this dog to her limits, “Is it really worth sacrificing this dog’s enthusiasm for training and performing, and sacrificing her trust in me as her handler, for an obedience title?”