Friday, October 12, 2018

☸️ Rally-obedience

Bodhi-boy out for a ride
(click for larger image)

My pal Bodhi and I have just completed our first rally-obedience training class. We spent six weeks learning what this competitive workout is all about and getting ourselves into compliance with the rules. I’m happy to say Bodhi is a quick and eager learner, and that we have a three-week hiatus until the next series of classes.

We figured out that Bodhi is easily bored early on. Bored puppies make for mischievious puppies, so I was on the lookout for something more to work on after we completed his Canine Good Citizen training. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of classes available at Hungry Like the Woof in Warrenton, so it was only a matter of deciding whether to go the rally-obedience route or the agility route. Bodhi is a rambunctious boy so more obedience training would be helpful. That narrowed my choice to the rally-o.

Rally-obedience is a competitive show sport where the dog and handler move through a series of gates. Each gate is a placard placed on the floor dictating a specific behavior that the pair must display for the judge. It might merely be halt and sit, but most gates require something more elaborate. A figure-eight, where the pair must cross the center line of a couple of cones three times is one example, a slalom through four cones once or twice is another. The spiral, where the two loop around three cones, then back around two, then around a single cone all in one direction is guaranteed to leave the handler dizzy. It does for me, at least.

Some of the more challenging gates don’t involve much movement at all. One example is the pivot, where the dog begins by sitting at the handler’s left knee and must scoot its butt around as the handler incrementally pivots left or right as if standing on a pie plate. Bodhi picked up the correct behavior surprisingly quickly.

A useful behavior for every day is the one we use to begin a course. I want Bodhi glued to my left knee at the outset, and also want a way of commanding him to approach me and sit in that position. I use “get close.” It’s a treat to see him circle around my left and park it right next to me, inching closer if he’s too far from my leg. He’s an enthusiastic learner, and enjoys the workouts not only for the training treats I use.

We have the next few weeks off but will do an occasional training session in our garage to keep ourselves sharp. The next set of classes begins Halloween night. Based on how Bodhi has come along in the six weeks of the first course, we should be ready for Novice class competition by the time we finish the next set in early December. I’m still up in the air as to whether we’ll compete, though.

Bodhi is sixteen months old next week. I’ve fallen quite in love with this sweet boy. There’s not much more I look forward to each day than coming downstairs or returning home to have him greet me. Seeing him leap across the floor to sit, wagging his tail at my feet fills me with joy. Love my boy.

#Bodhi #LabradorRetriever