I train for rally and obedience in my driveway. I am not new to training, though I am no expert. If I have problems I will go online and see what the experts do. I have been training for over 50 years. And as recently as 2006 I learned a new way to train. Now days it is all about positive training with food. That takes longer than the old fashioned methods. But it works. Then I go to the park, Petsmart or a match for proofing. Distractions are a good thing. I was thinking that rally would work as ring experience for Punch’s inevitable obedience career. We have already been working on gloves and scent articles for utility.
So when I had a few months before I was going to breed Punch I figured I could get a few more titles on her. We had done lots of heeling on lead. She knew sit, down and come; everything needed for Rally Novice. So with a little practice and the help of AKC Rally Regulations we were ready to trial. A friend suggested we go to the Peach Bloosom Cluster in Perry for a weekend of agility. They were also having a rally trial so I figured we would give it a try. Running from the agility ring, to the rally ring, Punch managed to qualify with a nice score and a third place.
I found a trial in Tallahassee, FL the first of June and entered her in Rally. They were having an obedience match the evening before so I thought that would be good ring experience. Saturday morning she did a passable job with a third place. She did an even better job in the afternoon with a second place. She now had her Rally Novice title. I had planned on this and picked this trial as it allowed for move-ups. I thought she was ready but not sure if I was. Luckily there were some very nice exhibitors that explained some of the more technical rally signs. Off came the leash for the first time and we received our first qualifying score in Advanced and a first place.
Next time I planned closer to home, the Huntsville Obedience Training Club trial. They had an obedience show and go at the end of June that we attended. Then in July we went to the rally trial. Saturday morning I had every confidence in her under one of my favorite judges. But for whatever reason Punch decided she needed to sniff the signs and just generally ignore me. No leash, no safety line. The judge told me she did not qualify but had some moments of brillance. I have to admit I was rather disheartened by my girl’s performance. Did I even want to drive back up in the morning? To my suprise she was better in the afternoon trial and recieved a second place for her second qualifying score.
I had decided to drive up again on Sunday morning. What if she didn’t qualify? We would be there getting ring experience for the long term. And dog sports are always about having fun with your dog. She did not let me down. She was a real partner and it felt good working together. We qualified with a first place and our Rally Advanced title. I know laying this foundation will benefit us once we get into obedience.