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Harvesting the Fruits of Training

Posted on 08/04/09 6 Comments

Back in November of last year I wrote about how I felt the need to work on my dog’s Gambling Skills. The post was called “Getting Old Fashioned”. My winter project was to grow my dog’s skills so that the Gamblers class was not going to turn my stomach at a regional or national event.

For me the key was going to be to not jeopardize any of my dog’s great understanding of positional cues for handling course work in order to become better at Gamble work. It definitely was a balancing act, and I am by no means finished, but I am thrilled with the results so far.

My focus was to improve Encore’s skills but at the same time I would start to lay a foundation for Feature. Enter the gamble classes at this year’s Canadian nationals. Where Encore and Feature ended up first and second in total opening points in each of the two Gambles offered last weekend.

I must admit I much prefer running Gamblers classes at home than anywhere else in the world, our rules rock (even thought the Gambles can be quiet difficult). In Canada the opening point accumulation period is always 40 seconds. Here you decide on your own course and most of the time there are many different strategies that you will see, rather than 70 handlers running the same plan but trying to be faster than the next. In your opening jumps=1 point, round things (tunnels, tire) plus spread jumps = 2 points, contacts=3 points and if there are 12 poles that=5 points. In addition the judge will deem one jump as 4 point obstacle. There will also be two mini gambles that you may or may not choose to include in your opening point accumulation which adds to the diversity of the strategies you see. It makes for a really interesting Gamblers class. The closing “gamble” must have an element of being 18′ away from the handler (there is a line on the ground you can not cross) and if you get it in the time allowed you earn another 35 points.

I can’t say yet that we are the best amoungst the very talented Canadian Gambling crowd, but as luck would have it Encore was the best this weekend as we were fortunate enough to win both Gamblers classes and Feature actually pulled off a 4th place in one of them! So it looks like I may get to keep my Canadian passport after all:).

Here are Encore’s two first place winning Gamble runs. I hope you notice  that although I am going for the win, booking hard to try and get as many points as I can before the buzzer goes I still get solid criteria on my contacts before I release my dog.  No single class is worth weakening my dog’s understanding of her job.

Today I am grateful that improvement does comes to those who train while they wait!


  1. Renee says:
    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 1:28am

    On Encore’s second Gamblers run…LOVE her weight shift, rock back on the DW’s!!!!! Totally awesome!!! Awesome training! AND she looked off balance going across too which made it that much more impressive!!!! WTG!


  2. Jen says:
    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 9:23am

    Susan would you suggest teaching obsticle names or just a “go out” command? I’m a little confused how to do this and would love to hear what you have taught.


  3. Mary Lou says:
    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 8:51am

    The runs were awesome Susan. Congrats on seeing the fruits of your labor.


  4. Laura says:
    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 8:08am

    “No single class is worth weakening my dog’s understanding of her job.”

    Thanks for that reminder (no matter what sport we’re doing)!


  5. Angela says:
    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 2:10am

    Susan, in gamble 1 did you want Encore to take the tire and by-pass the tunnel mouth to be called back to send to the tunnel?


    • Susan says:
      Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 6:58am

      I am not certain when you mean Angela, but if you mean at the start of the gamble–just after the buzzer, no–that was Encore reading my positional cue and decel at the Gamble line to indicate a turn–that is why she didn’t go out to the tunnel at first. What she continues to learn is that my verbal cue “go tunnel” will overrule my positional cues.


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