This year was in many ways difficult to us. Not only because of corona, but also due to injuries which made the training very difficult.
The year of injuries
The year started with an operation. The vet took away the metal particles which had caused Inspis pain and inflammation many years. When Inspis started to recover from the surgeon, he tore his back leg’s muscle which took 5 months to heal.
In the end of July we started carefully training him again. His sports condition was low and he got tired very fast. We decided to focus only on improving his physical condition and control in protection. I thought about skipping the Finnish nationals because time wasn’t enough training for all three disciplines.
Focusing on the main problem
Control in protection was our main issue. We needed to train the blind search with and without the helper. Another exercises we focused were side transport, sitting calmly in long attack and getting Inspis motivated to heel me after side transport. I tried to be as black and white as possible. Inspis made a lot of progress during 2 months. In each training he became more obedient, calmer and easier to handle. But we were still rewarding Inspis a lot. Which means we couldn’t train the pattern which is important for succeeding at competitions.
The last moment decision
Shall we go to championships and try our luck? Or shall we skip it like was the original plan? The protection looked better but we couldn’t train yet the pattern without rewarding. I also haven’t trained any tracking or obedience during the last 2 months. The last track he did was in the last year nationals!
I decided to take a chance. We had time to do 5 competition style obedience training and 7 tracking for him.
The first tracking
The first tracking wasn’t very promising. Inspis started really nicely but didn’t indicate all articles. Also in the second track he went over 2 articles. All the next 5 tracking sessions I was very focused on articles. The tracks were approximately 7 legs and 6 corners. And there was very little food. Never in the pole or on the first leg. This close to competition tracking must look very similar in training than in the competition.
Food min. 30 steps after corners
I put the food only after the corners and minimum 30 steps after them. I wanted to avoid him solving the corners by smelling the food. But I also wanted to keep him focused after corners. And thus I started a curve approximately 4 steps after each corner.
Huge reward in each article
I gave Inspis huge raw meatballs from each article. That got him fast motivated in indicating the articles. In the following five tracks he didn’t leave any article. But the article indications were still a little bit slow which I didn’t mind. I was happy he wanted to indicate them.
Legs and corners
All legs Inspis tracked generally pretty nicely. Deep nose, confidently and motivatedly. Corner work was slightly insecure. Some corners he took very well, but sometimes he went a bit over, then came back and solved the corner independently. I decided not to correct him from that. I knew that the competition field would be a short grass and slightly more difficult than the fields I had a chance to track before competition. Then it’s a better idea just to improve the dog’s confidence and not mourn on a few points which I may lose for corner work.
The solution was excellent. Inspis indicated all articles at the trial and was confident in his tracking.