Two Saturdays ago, I got together with some friends at the building to do some Freestyle. It was difficult to decide which dog to bring. Bandit is working on a new routine that is almost finished, and he could have used a run-through. I am doing some discovery mode work with Tessa. And I want to attempt the pre-Bronze dances for the Cyber Rally-O Dance Division with Dean.
Since he hadn't been out to do anything in a very long time, I elected to take Dean.
Dean was plainly thrilled to go. And when we got to the building, he came in and dashed into the crate, eager to get out on the floor and do something!
When I took him out and started working patterns with him, he was eager and excited. However . . . as I started to taper back the food I immediately noticed that he was not as "sharp" as he typically is. He was losing motivation and focus almost right away. And on the left turns and circles, he was actually forging out ahead of me and disconnecting! Dean's left turns and circles have always been among his very best, and favorite, skills!
I realized that Dean and I have done absolutely no duration work whatsoever since last summer! He has done little fitness exercises, and tricks and so forth in the house, but we have not done heeling, nor worked on any aspects of performance that would keep his duration skills fresh.
Dean and I have gone for long periods of time before without a whole lot of training and I have never seen his skills deteriorate to this point before. It was really a rude awakening. I realized that I am either going to need to start working with Dean on a regular basis and shake off the rust, or I am going to have to let performance with him go altogether!
We did manage to get a good take to submit for the Dance Division. We stuck with the Multi Circle Waltz, which is the most straightforward pattern at pre-Bronze. I completed the whole pattern with my hands on my hips, and that helped Dean keep his focus on the inside circles.
He really did a nice job! It did take us about three tries, though.
This experience really got me thinking about Dean and what I want to do with him.
On one hand, I could just retire him altogether. Stop filming videos. Keep doing little training things with him for fun, but consider ourselves finished with video, with submission, and with titling.
On the other hand, I could start working with Dean on a regular basis, shake off the dust, and get him back to where he could make really nice performance videos.
I know he would absolutely love to get back into regular, and more rigorous, training. This will necessitate training in the yard, which is not his favorite (he thinks outdoors is for chasing toys), but he will enjoy it more than not.
If we do this, we could work up to being able to film the rest of pre-Bronze, and maybe even Bronze in the Dance Divisions! We could make more Skills Test videos for Rally FrEe. And, we could do a few more performances for the Dogs Can Dance Challenges.
I think it is worth a go. I have upped our training a bit since we made the Multi Circle Waltz video, and Dean Dog seems to be all for it!
So, I think we will . . .