Kathryn Dobyns

Well, the first step is get IN a trial, which is not happening for Team Hunter…

But, in theory…

Month before – work a mixture of easy rewarding problems to maintain drive and set-ups that cause problems (like the deep corners issue we have worked on in this course), some of these training searches will be intentionally harder than what would be likely at our trial level (for us, that means often training Elite-type searches)

Week before – try to get in a set of blind searches that are realistic for the level we are trialing at

No sniffing at all for a day or two before the trial

At trial I always take Hunter to the warm-up boxes and reward heavily – I don’t ask him to work them, just meet him at the odor box. I never did this with my previous dog – she did not have the drive or stamina that Hunter has, so
I did not want to ask her to use up any extra energy on warm-up boxes. I think the warm-up boxes DO help Hunter get focused on the game at hand and he gets a preview of whatever yummy reward is coming later for successful searching.

The hardest thing for me is the “ring nerves” – blind searches with friends and coaches is still not the same as competition and with only 1 trial in the past year, it is just impossible to work through this the way I have been able to with agility. I try to relax in the blind searches I do in training, and I just hope that will translate to less twitchiness the next time we get to trial…