What is a training trial? I had no idea before I went to the Dog Sports Open with Fraize & Co.
I've been to other trials, and they were nothing like this. It's a competition, but for those of us who went knowing we weren't going to be competitive it was a chance to learn and train in a trial setting. There was a crowd, strange decoys, odd tasks, farm animals....
The theme for this year was "A nightmare on Lowell Street". For most of us, that conjures images of a red and black striped sweater and a scary clawed glove. But no... this is Cheryl's nightmare... delivering pizza, finding addresses, getting lost...
So we step on the field for the beginner level:
To the immediate left is the command center - Cheryl Carlson was our Mistress of Ceremonies and DJ extraordinaire.
You either come with theme music or you will have it provided for you. I'd advise you to come with your own.
you head into your obedience routine. there are small houses with numbers on them as your markers. The beginner level is on leash. Heel from house number 1 to number 2.
Turn right at 2 and stop at 3. Continue on to 4 and turn right again.
Over the loudspeaker... "Ring... Ring... phone's ringing, better hurry up, they're gonna call Domino's, you're gonna loose your job" Run with your dog in heel to the phone and answer it.
"Hi, I need a pizza delivered to xxxx Lowell Street, and make it fast!"
So you pick up a pizza box and you and your dog head to your golf cart to deliver your pizza.
Some of the dogs hopped right in and went for a ride
Some dogs needed a little encouragement to get in
Some didn't think the golf cart was a good idea at all. This is where the "training" part of "training trial" comes in. A couple of laps around the field and the dogs understand that there is nothing to be afraid of!
So we arrive at the address.
We can leave our dog in the car, or we can take our dog with us to make the delivery. We knock on the door and the person who comes out lets us know that we are at the wrong address. We need to go to the second floor.
So we head to the elevator. Up we go to the "second floor"
We finally arrive at the right address and knock on the door. A person emerges and takes the pizza box and gives you a tip.
End of the obedience portion... on to protection.
First we have civil agitation in your lovely luxury truck. It's up to the handler to arrange the windows, some want them up, some down, some half way. The dog needs to defend the car from the approaching bad guy.
After a successful defense of the car, we head to the tie out. While the bad "guys" watch what's going on.
There is a stout post in the ground with a safety cable for backup. The handler holds their dog, while a stranger approaches and threatens you.
The bad guy threatens the handler, not the dog and the dog has to keep them away.
For dogs new to civil agitation, we switch to training mode so they can leave the exercise a winner.
The final scenario is an attack on handler. The dog is put in a position of control (sit, down or stay) and you go to the end of your 6 foot leash. A bad guy approaches and speaks to you and then attacks.
When your dog engages, you step back and let the dog take care of the problem.
Wellâ€¦ youâ€™re supposed to step back and let your dog take care of the problem.
(He grabbed me, so I grabbed him back. Isn't that the way it's supposed to go? And then... over the loudspeaker... the voice of God (or was it Cheryl?) "Let go of the decoy...."
Since this is training, the dogs that donâ€™t bite the suit yet get to work tugs.
When the threat is taken care of, you out your dog and youâ€™re done!
Uhâ€¦ Riggs, did you hear that? Let go nowâ€¦