Right now I'm in the middle of a major battle of the wills with my 4-year-old BLF. She is extremely talented, and has all of the skills to be able to pass a master test. She also posesses an immense will, and every test becomes a battle to do it her way. So far this season we've run 4 Master tests. She broke on one, two fails were my fault, and this past weekend I picked her up halfway through the second series because she blew off two casts. The judges probably wouldn't have let that slide into the third series (even though her work in the first series was very good) so I made the decision to pick her up.
My question is this - does picking up a dog in a test, really send a message? I'm willing to bet that picking her up at the beginning of the first series for whining, or creeping would probably send a message, but if I pick her up halfway through the second, after she's already retrieved a blind and a mark, have I already lost to her? In training, she's a total princess; does everything I ask, and is totally quiet, steady and follows directions. When we get to a test though, she feels this urge to assert herself and do the little things, like creep out just past me, bark when she's given a cast, which leads to her getting more and more defiant as the test goes on. Then, she's blowing off casts and generally doing what she wants.
I'm willing to pick her up from more tests, but I'm afraid that maybe it isn't doing any good.