Page 65 - Top Notch Toys September 2019
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                 Where do you feel comfortable? Which ones “fit” you and your dog physically and mentally?
I have never been totally at ease in the Rally ring. You could say it doesn’t fit me mentally. If my dog messes up it is never his fault, it is always mine. I read the sign wrong, turn the wrong way, give the wrong command and more. But Pugs seem to love Rally because you can talk to them and they eat that up! Many people with Pugs love Rally and devote their entire time to it. Rally was originally designed as an introduction to Obedience but it has taken on a life of it’s own. I train the Rally exercises because I believe they help with a dog’s Obedience prepara- tion. Once in a while we will venture into the Rally ring with the hope that Mom can get it right.
For me, Obedience is the most re- warding and Agility is the most fun. There is nothing more satisfying than working with a well-trained Obedience dog. As a trainer, Obe- dience has continuing challenges such as focusing on my timing, being clear with my commands, being con- sistent, having a training plan and most of all keeping it fun. All of these challenges make a difference in how fast the dog will learn and how well he will perform. Pugs will not toler- ate harsh corrections, jerking or what I call “drill and kill”. Short, varied training sessions seem to be the most successful for Pugs and always use positive reinforcement.
What does your Pug need to excel in Companion events? Your Pug needs to be structurally sound, fit and trim. Trimness was an issue for me when I was campaigning one of my champions and trying to train in Agility at the same time. In Confor- mation, many judges want “hefty” Pugs and knowing it wasn’t safe for my dog to be doing agility at his Con- formation weight I had to make some choices. I chose to finish showing him that year and was thrilled to win an Award of Merit at the Garden at his retirement show. After he was done with this show career, I dropped his
“YOUR PUG NEEDS TO BE
structurally sound, fit and trim.”
weight down and we started compet- ing seriously in Agility. He earned many placements and titles and we had a ball!
In Northern California with our year-round mild weather, all Agility training facilities and trials are out- doors or under covered horse arenas. When I first starting going to Agility class there were some definite chal- lenges with my breed. The surface at the training facility nearest my house was wood chips. Did I mention Pugs will eat anything? I would toss a treat reward and he would eat the reward along with a mouthful of bark! Need- less to say I had to find another place to train. So, even though this facility was very close to my house I made a commitment to drive over an hour, or usually more depending on traf- fic, once or twice a week to a beauti- ful training facility with nice grass. It was for my dog and was the smartest move I could have made. I also gained an amazing trainer!
Having a trainer that is flexible and understands that all breeds do not train the same is what you need to
find. I have had the good fortune to work with not only top-winning re- nowned trainers, but who also un- derstand that one size does not fit all—we are not all Border Collies. As an example, in Agility it is common to train a “nose touch” on a target at the bottom of the equipment so that the dog has stop at the bottom and not fly off the yellow contact zone. OK, well, that’s fine if you HAVE a nose. When our new trainer said, “That’s ok, just do a running contact—you don’t have to have him stop at the bottom,” I could have kissed her.
My first agility trial was at a Pug National Specialty—a great place to start. We ran a good Novice course, dropped a bar toward the end which disqualified us, but what I remem- ber most as that I left the ring feeling exhilaration and saying “WOW, that was so much fun!!” Years later I still feel that way. Over the years I have experienced and witnessed some Pugs that definitely tested the pa- tience of the owner-handler in Agil- ity. I’ve seen Novice Pugs doing zoomies around the ring and all you
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