Preparing for sit-stays

Dogs and trainers preparing for sit-stays.

written by Marissa Greenberg, DVM

It ™s show time!  This weekend is the SLODOG annual United Kennel Club (UKC) obedience and rally obedience show at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge!  If you are interested in learning more about SLODOG, UKC, or rally and obedience trials, please come out on Saturday or Sunday morning to see what it ™s all about.  We ask that you leave your four-legged friends at home to limit the distractions to the dogs that are showing.  The UKC registers all breeds of dogs, even mixed breeds, so anyone can get involved.

Mico watching Dr. Greenberg

Mico watching for cue from Marissa.

Some of you may recognize Mico from my last article about going back to school.  He is an Australian Cattle Dog (also called a Queensland Heeler or Blue Heeler) and is almost 3 years old.  I ™ve had him since he was 7 weeks old.  This will be the second year that Mico and I have competed in obedience.  We will be showing in the entry-level obedience classes, called Novice Obedience.  In this class, we will demonstrate the skills that Mico and I have been working on since he was a puppy.  We will perform a heeling pattern both on and off leash, including walking in a figure eight around two strangers.  He will also have to stand and stay while I walk away from him and the judge comes up to him and does an examination.  Mico will have to sit and stay as I walk to the far end of the show ring, with a jump placed in between us.  There will be strangers on either side of the jump.   When I call him, he will have to come to me, going over the jump and ignoring the strangers.  He will have to stay in a down position with me across the ring for 3 minutes, and will have to stay in a sitting position, lined up next to other dogs, for 1 minute.  When entering the ring, everyone starts with a score of 200, and points are deducted as the dog and handler go through the different exercises.  A qualifying score is considered anything greater than 170 points.  Mico and I currently have 2 qualifying scores from last year ™s show. If we get one more qualifying score, he will earn the title of United Companion Dog (UCD), and we will move up to the next level of obedience where the exercises get more challenging.  Mico is already starting to learn some of those exercises-for example, he has learned to hold a dumbbell in his mouth-which is how we got him to pose for his picture holding the lunch bag for the back-to-school article!  If we continue to move up in the different levels, he ™ll even learn how to pick out a dumbbell that I have touched from a pile of different dumbbells. And we ™ll have to transition from verbal cues to non-verbal signals for different commands.

Mico jumping during recall

Mico jumping during recall towards Marissa

Training Mico to show in obedience has been a great way to form a very special bond with him.  In addition, since he is a herding dog, it ™s a great way to keep his very active mind busy and challenged.  We ™ve also met a lot of great friends of the two- and four- legged variety. Wish us luck this weekend as we hope to add that UCD title to the end of his official name-Amico ™s Firecracker.