Okay, so Gabs got her U-CD last weekend, but I wasn't very happy with last weekend or the weekend before that's performance.
I know that I tend to stress before going in the ring, but I feel like I have been making substantial strides in that.
However, the last two weekends, I had to give multiple heel commands (she actually failed to about turn with me on the heel free and stood and stared at the wall for a while on one of the rounds before running on joining). She sat crooked on ALL fronts and sits (even fronting on some sits during the heel). She shifted during the stand.
I can't emphasize how much these are weird things for her. We train in different places (our training club, occasional show n'gos, different areas around the condo complex, parks, petsmart, the nearby elementary school). She's really, really solid in all those places with toys on the ground, people baiting her away, etc. She's been so solid in all these places that I was actually planning on showing her in open in Feb until last weekend (and now I'm thinking it may be a long time ).
I would love suggestions on how to fix this/work around it. Thanks.
Yep...walking fast enough is just about everyone's downfall once they step foot in the ring. Nerves are also a culprit. Even though you "think" you have your nerves under control, the dog never lies. If she is feeling like you are stressed, she will wonder what you are so nervous about. This makes her more distracted because she's worried the boogey man might jump out and get her or you at any moment.
Unfortunately it's very hard to recreate this type of stress in practice or show-n-gos. It's just something you need to be aware of and learn to manage better. Have Luke tape you at practice and at shows. You will quickly see that your body language changes, your voice tone changes, you probably don't smile or play in between exercises. The dog notices all of this plus all of the things that aren't so visible.
There is a saying "train like you show and show like you train." Truer words were never spoken. Often times in training you stop in between exercises to treat the dog or talk to the trainer, etc. This doesn't happen in a show so you need to consciously eliminate this excess stuff in training. In training, you probably pet your dog and play in between exercises. This is absolutely acceptable in the ring so don't stop doing it just because it is a show.
Since it appears it is an attention problem once you get in the ring, figure out what gets your dogs attention in practice. Tap her on the head and say "watch". Snap the rubber band on your arm band and say "watch" or my favorite "hot dogs". Pinch her in the flank. Use whatever gets her attention and use that in the ring.