We rented the training pavilion at ARF and set up a rally-free course. My goal was to 1) work on engagement first, and only do the full course if Cai was showing me that he could do it with enthusiasm, 2) if he was able to do it, use as few treats as possible, in preparation for the next time we trial (end of October), 3) crate him and walk away between training, to help him get used to quietly resting (a big problem if we're in a new place).
Well Cai blew me away! We only needed to do one round of sniffing around the edges of the ring before he was fully ready to work. Then I had his full attention for the entire run. It certainly helped that I had rabbit jerky on hand! We did two runs, and each time I only stopped to reward once, but I gave multiple treats and lots of praise when it was time. Here's the video of our second run:
As long as he's confident in the skills that are needed for our next Intermediate course, we should do very well!
In the crate, he whined and scratched at the door the first time I put him away. I just waited him out, and returned with treats during moments of quiet. The second time he was quiet, and by the third time he was relaxing with his hips rolled to the side and his head on the floor.