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My Obedience Maltese

(c) Steve Surfman Photography

Since Rugby earned his OTCH in June, I have had a hard time staying motivated to train and compete in Obedience. I am a goal orientated person and now that our ultimate goal has been reached, where do we go from here?

My solution was to try a different sport. We have started agility training and Rugby seems to like it. I am amused with his enthusiasm for the obstacles (and sometimes lack of enthusiasm). This should keep us busy and continuously working for some time.

This past weekend, I was reminded why we did Obedience in the first place. We participated in the All Star Performance Dog’s Obedience Championships. Rugby was entered in the Super Stars class, where you perform exercises from both Open and Utility each time you enter the ring (a total of 5 times over the course of two days, plus two sets of stays).

Since we haven’t been practicing much, I didn’t have high expectations for Rugby and the pressure was off. We were there only to enjoy ourselves and to cheer on our fellow “Team Applewoods” participants… and maybe to do a little shopping too. This relaxed approach gave me the opportunity to use the tournament to see Obedience for what it really is.

The exercises in Obedience are generally, not self-rewarding for the dog like they are in agility. Rugby did not start doing scent articles, or heeling, or signals because he thought those things were fun. He did it and continues to do it because I ask him to. Somewhere along the way, he learned to appreciate the work and to enjoy a job well done. Now he thinks they are fun and looks forward to the chance to practice each day.

I realized this weekend that training your dog to do all three levels of Obedience, and to do it well will give you a relationship with the dog that you will never get out of Agility. We had a great time at All Stars, and honestly, agility seems much less appealing in comparison.

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