Last weekend Stella and I participated in our first Canadian Association of Rally Obedience (CARO) trial. CARO is an option to CKC and trials are open to all dogs. The judging requirements tend to be much stricter and there are time limits. If a dog NQ on an individual station it will automatically NQ for the entire round. Food is allowed but under strict guidelines (no luring!) and can only be used at the end of a stationery position. There are some minor differences in the stations although not much at the novice level. I find the advanced and beyond levels of CARO very interesting and think they would be a very good challenge compared to the advanced and excellent CKC rally. A qualifying score in CARO is 170 out of a possible 200. Unfortunately CARO trials are not very easy to find in our area but there are one or two per year that are within travel distance.
This was my very first time competing in CARO. We entered in three novice trials and we did very well with three qualifying rounds. The trials were all under the same judge so we weren't able to qualify for our novice title. Trial one was a score of 197. My pace should have been a touch faster to help prevent any sniffing opportunities but Stella did great!
Trial 2 was a score of 187. We lost ten points on the sit, down, sit station because Stella did a "vizsla - don't want my belly to touch the ground" down. I did notice that she hadn't gone all the way but from my angle it looked closer. I should have done a re-do of the station. When I viewed the video it was quite obvious and obviously the judge agreed :). I probably should have asked for a down on the hip versus a sphinx drop down as that would have been more reliable.
Trial 3 was a score of 183. In hindsight I should have only entered for two trials. I was a little surprised when the judging schedule was released and the three novice rounds went one right after another. I had expected more time for breaks in the schedule for the other levels to compete. Stella is still very young (15 months) so by the third trial she was quite distracted. This round had two stations with a down position which she wasn't thrilled with so we had two re-dos and one double command. There was also a baby making some noises close to the ring gates which she found very distracting.
Overall I was very happy with our performance. She had some beautiful positions in her fronts, sits at heel, left turns and pivots. There was also some nice moments in heel work but that is a work in progress. The trial showed me some areas I need to work. I need to work on duration both in heel and holding positions before rewards. I could see when watching the video moments when she seemed to expect rewards and then started to lose focus when she didn't get it. I need to transition from working individual positions with rapid reinforcement to more incorporating those positions with other things and lengthening the reward schedule. That should also improve with time and maturity.
The trial was in Nanaimo so we attended with our friend and her dog and went over the night before. This was Stella's first experience in a hotel room complete with her first elevator ride. She did hear something at 4 a.m. which needed her muffled barking from her cozy position underneath the covers on my bed but otherwise she handled things like a seasoned pro.
Stella's aunt Shandy also completed a leg of her excellent title at this trial. One of her cousins also had a very nice effort in Novice. Way to go to the relatives! It it so nice to attend trials with friends and get/give friendly support.
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Here's my crazy puppy a year ago playing with her toy.