From a comp perspective ... I think it's crucial that the dog believes this can happen not only during training, but during TRIALING as well.I want my dog to believe that at any time during any training session I might have a ball or break into a fun game without a ball.
Absolutely. Totally. My last dog "believed" and would punch me with her nose. We used "trial markers" (like a ball ALWAYS delivered after the second gun shot, a ball ALWAYS delivered when the other person on the field said "Platz" when they downed their dog for the long down, a ball ALWAYS delivered after the group (fuss! Thank you Group! BALL), Always at certain times a ball appears. We do train like we trial.From a comp perspective ... I think it's crucial that the dog believes this can happen not only during training, but during TRIALING as well.
Trial nerves can kill you. No question about it. I see it. We actually DO practice for that silence and duration and stiffness. It happens. Humans are the weak link.It's like the old adage "trial the way you train". Not as though you're truly going to break out a stick in the midst of being judged, but you want the dog to believe that it's possible. All too often, and PREDICTABLY, handlers change their typical demeanor as soon as they step into the ring or onto the field. An air of absolute seriousness suddenly comes over the environment, and it can sometimes affect engagement. And therefore, quality of performance and scores.
I do go to AKC Ob matches and do this but that is VERY VERY different than an IGP obedience routine. Mostly I do the Ob matches so that we can be in a distracting environment. The criteria for Ob in AKC rings is very different than IGP (although I encourage people in AKC ob to work some IGP stuff because it really does "up the game" a LOT for their AKC routines).Ie: when we do fun matches, I'll try my best to approach it as if it's an actual trial. Essentially formally. However, I might occasionally get down on my hands and knees for a very brief moment between exercises and PLAY with the proverbial stick, right in the middle of the ring. Because this is EXACTLY what we do during training. Embarrassment be damned. I want my dog to believe it can and MAY happen on trial day.