Sometimes simple is good. This easy to remember and do little “test” will help you discover if your Open dog is really ready to go.
1. Sit the dog in heel position. Throw the dumbbell. Send the dog. Don’t go beyond this task until the dog can do this and return the dumbbell to hand on one command.
2. Sit the dog in heel position. Tell him to stay. Walk out and place the dumbbell on the floor at least 20 feet from the dog. Return to the dog and send him. Don’t do step 3 until your dog can do this on one fetch command.
3. Throw the dumbbell. Heel the dog in a small circle to
the left. Sit him and send him for the dumbbell. Don’t go to step 4 until your dog can do this on one fetch command.
4. Tell your dog to stay. Walk out 20 feet and place your dumbbell on the floor. Return to your dog and heel him in a small circle to the left. Sit him and send him for the dumbbell. When you can do this, go to step 5.
5. Leave the dog in a sit stay. Walk straight away from him and place the dumbbell on the floor 15 feet from the dog. Walk another 15 feet. The dumbbell is now between you and your dog. Tell the dog to fetch it up. Don’t go step 6 until your dog can do this.
6. Sit your dog and tell him to stay. Place the dumbbell on the floor behind him. Walk away 30 feet in front of him and tell him to fetch the dumbbell.
Don’t enter an Open class until your dog can do this. You can save yourself a bundle in wasted entry fees!
Editor’s note: This “memory test” is a good example of the old adage, “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect!” As an instructor, my job is to prepare my competition students as thoroughly as possible, before they enter a trial. Far too often we find out in the ring that our practice was less than perfect.