If you train to get a good pet dog, you will find a good Obedience dog along the way. This is true as long as you have an instructor capable of giving you the pet dog you need and not the one you think that you want.
It happened to us, and I have watched it happen to countless people coming through the classes at Applewoods. They may not always end up in the Obedience Ring, but by the time they are happy with their pet, the dogs at the very least can perform all of the Open exercises reliably.
What I am starting to really appreciate about our journey to a good pet dog is the foundation Obedience has laid for the next step in Rugby's career, Agility.
We have been working to introduce Rugby to all the obstacles and some baby sequences this past week. With as little as a days introduction, Rugby is gaining confidence and starting to run through the mini courses we have set up.
After seeing his progress this week, these are the Obedience skills I am most grateful for.
1) Off Lead Control
This is about attention. To remain attentive enough to me that he is not sniffing the ground, leaving to have zoomies, leaving to play with the other loose dogs in the yard or deciding to stay put and take a nap makes agility a hundred times easier than if starting with an untrained dog.
2) Distance Control
A skill that he perfected in his Utility work, being able to be sent away from me, work efficiently while he is there, and come back on command makes handling him for agility much easier on my part.
Not only does he know the high jump, bar jump and broad jump well, but they have been generalized to fallen trees, legs, Mastiffs, etc. I am confident that if I point Rugby towards a jump, and tell him it is a jump, he is going over it no matter the shape or size.
4) Taking Direction
From both the Directed Jumping Exercise and the Directed Retrieve exercise, Rugby has learned to go where I direct him to go when I am standing next to him, and when I am across the ring.
5) Random Sit
Also from Directed Jumping, I can stop Rugby's motion in an instant with a sit command. I use this to keep him from making mistakes. Never practice it wrong. If I see he is straying from his path, I can sit him, restart, and make appropriate changes so he can succeed.
6) Sit Stay
Stay put on the pause table and on the start line. You move when I tell you. Stays are littered throughout Obedience starting in Novice with the Stand For Exam, the Stay before the Recall, the Group Stays and expand from there. He has lots of stay experience.
I'm sure as Rugby and I stumble through agility this list will grow. It took Rugby a week to learn what took my first dog 2-3 months to learn. I am so glad we did Obedience first.