I hope that I am finally understanding NADAC Elite Chances and how to improve. Despite the fact that Wyatt has improved tremendously in his ability to work at a distance, our qualification rate in Chances still remains low and constant at 2-3 a year. I did figure out some time ago that I need, as a handler, to focus on what I call the 3 Cs: keep Communicating, early Cueing, and Keeping moving. At our last trial, one the first run I froze up and forgot to cue and a critical point. On the second Chances run, I did not keep moving at the critical switch. We did get the weaves poles though as I was great at communicating early and often and cueing early. The difficult part is doing all three and not just 2 as well as adjusting to your dog’s speed and keep connected with your dog all at the same time. We know from learning theory that it is hard to do multiple new tasks simultaneously because tasks are not automatic yet.
Part of the freeze I had on the first course was due to the fact that I still don’t have the Switch command 100% clear in my mind. I did figure out at home that the first course shown is NOT a Switch. I use an Out, Jump or Out, Hoop command. The second one is. The map shows my correct handler path. What I messed up on was not keeping moving. I need to remember to keep a path going for me even if it means little footsteps. I practiced this at home this week. Wyatt is very honest. If I stop, he stops. However, if I keep moving, even in little steps he will follow as long as I am communicating what to do. The third course is where I froze. I am going to set that up this week and try and see the best way to handle it. We are really getting good at home so I hope I can translate this to the ring soon. The added pressure and excitement of the ring for both dog and handler can change things enough to cause omissions in the 3 Cs. I think when Wyatt is not where I expect from walking the course, I also have trouble adjusting.