Bandit and I, that is! Although I guess it's "back" to Rally for me and "to" Rally for him.
I have been getting frustrated with Bandit in Rally FrEe class of late. We really are working way above his skill level. That was actually working out just fine until he developed a recent problem - sniffing. Sniffing, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing the floor in the room where we have Rally FrEe class. I don't really know what is catching his attention so thoroughly but the allure of the scents on the floor is so tantalizing to him that even high value treats like chicken or roast beef are of no interest to him.
While I am all for working through distractions, we have come to a point where that is all we do during Rally FrEe class. Forget about working actual skills, or course work, or anything - the entire class has been centered on trying to get him to choose to take that nose off the floor.
Bandit is at a critical point in his training. He is maturing very nicely and, outside of that particular room, I am seeing great interest on his part in learning. I really do need to take some time to work on some Control Unleashed type work with him to really build a nice foundation of focus, and to cultivate the work ethic I know he can have.
So, a shift! Just for a while.
First, the Rally class is in the other room. Thus far, he has not had the same level of difficulty with the scents on the floor in the other room. Second, there is more room on the sidelines in that room for me to sit and work with him on foundation games like Mat Work while we are waiting our turn. He really needs that sort of work right now to build the mindset that he will need on the sidelines at competitions.
Finally, Rally is much simpler than Rally FrEe. In conjunction with a less challenging floor, I believe that if Bandit and I can focus on mastering performance of Rally skills, he will start to develop as a performance partner. When the time comes and he is ready to start doing courses "for real", we can start with Cyber Rally-O (by video, with treats that can be fed at many places on the course), then transition to World Cynosport (live, with treats that can only be fed at a few places on the course), and then consider going back to Rally FrEe (video or live) where we will need to be performing food-free in the finished activity.
Ever since I made this decision, we have been working on some basic Rally skills and he is taking to it beautifully!! I really do believe that the drop in criteria is exactly what we both need right now to grow as a team.
And . . . Rally has been good to me. After Speedy and I had to abandon our Agility hopes (brief though they were) and Speedy went through basic desensitization and counter conditioning to get a handle on his fear and reactivity, we went into Rally and we really found a niche' there. Speedy and I entered the dog sport world through Rally. My first Q's and titles were in Rally. Dean excelled in Rally after much struggle with noise phobia. And Tessa just adores Cyber Rally-O. Her first Q in any titling event was in Cyber Rally-O.
I am hoping that with Bandit the tradition will continue!