As you know, Freya and I are preparing for our first APDT Rally Obedience trial coming up on Sunday. Since Freya is not ready to trial off leash, or maybe that is me that is not ready, I’ve decided to do the novice level titles for all of the organizations that regularly offer trials in our area — UKC, APDT, and AKC — with her before attempting any organization’s advanced level title.
In APDT trials, you can use food rewards after any of the stationary exercises. This differs from AKC and UKC, where you cannot have food in the ring at all. At first I thought this would be a great thing, and it might well be. Except that I am the klutziest handler on the planet, and there are point deductions for dropping food, which sad to say, I do all the time in training. We get a lot of practice on “leave it.” Food rewards also have to be hidden in the handler’s pockets. You cannot use a bait pouch or hold food in your hands or mouth. That alone is a huge adjustment for me, since I always use a bait pouch and hold food in my mouth.
I have probably lost some of you already when I talk about holding dog treats in your mouth. I always feel like I have to apologize to new people in our group class, because I’m always holding treats in my mouth to get Freya’s attention on my face. My dog treats for training classes are all “people food” with the favorite choices for both me and dogs being string cheese and Jewel store brand Homestyle Frozen Meatballs (the President’s Choice meatballs taste better, but they have a higher fat content and don’t hold up as well for a one-hour class). I also use hot dogs, nuked with or without a dash of soy sauce (yes, that would be teriyaki hot dog treats). See? All of that is stuff that you wouldn’t mind holding in your mouth, right?
The one thing that I am not klutzy at is spitting food to my dogs. Most of them have been great at catching treats, either spit or thrown, and only a couple of them have let the food bounce off their faces. I will admit that if a class runs a full hour or longer, I do end up eating some of the string cheese myself.
(NaBloPoMo | January ’10: 19 of 31)