Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lisa Maze seminar - part 1

Training dogs in the South is such a rough life! :-)

Kane and I practicing attention.
Kane and I were fortunate enough to be able to participate in a Lisa Maze seminar a few weekends ago. Lisa is owner of Muttamorphosis Dog Training and she is a very accomplished dog trainer and breeder from California. She works closely with Michael Ellis of the Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers and the Loups de Soleil kennel for working Belgian Malinois. If you know a little about Schutzhund, then are probably familiar with Leerburg, both the kennels and the dvd/dog training gear company. Leerburg has produced several excellent videos with Michael on the topic of marker training. Here's a PDF on Leerburg's explanation of marker training.

Adding some movement into my food reward, after marking, makes Kane really excited and ups the engagement.
The wonderful Charleston Working Dog Club put on this event at the home of our wonderful hostess Jenny. We were able to train and stay at her beautiful plantation home located on 95 acres. It was such a wonderful weekend - we had fantastic weather, a lot of fun, great advice from Lisa on training, fantastic helpers for protection and great food as well.

Since Kane's "attackdog" incident, we have been working on attention and engagement. After talking with a few friends, and watching a video of us doing an obedience practice session, it became pretty apparent that Kane was not very attentive on the field, my rewards were not in the least bit engaging or fun and something needed to be drastically changed if we were going to break out of attackdog label and bring ourselves to the next level. I jokingly remarked that if I was being rewarded the way I rewarded Kane, I wouldn't sit either. So there! :-) My wonderful friend Julie brought up the concept of engagement training, Michael's videos and showed me how to get started. She even let me play with her malinois Brando so that I could feel the difference in handling a dog that has engagement. My feeling is that if Kane is more engaged with me, then his attention will be less likely to leave me to look for other "fun" things to do.

The first thing we worked with Lisa on was food rewards for attention, and how to be more fun. Here is an edited video showing how that was done with Kane:

I have three more posts to come on this seminar - so stay tuned! If you are interested in marker training, please watch some of the Michael Ellis videos or try attending a Lisa Maze seminar!
See - I had a GREAT time at this seminar!

Thank you Lisa! Thank you Charleston Working Dog Club! (and Thank you Thomas Lever for the fabulous photos of me and Kane!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sometimes things don't go as planned

We were near Myrtle Beach, SC this past weekend. Excited to be entered in another trial for an OB1 which is just the obedience part of a Schutzhund 1 routine. It was meant to give us some more practice and hopefully ease our my nervousness and we could put on a better showing than we did back in December.

Unfortunately, things don't always go as you plan. We had just walked onto the field and I was about to shake hands with the judge for checking in, and Kane locked eyes with the other handler's dog and attacked. It seemed like minutes, but I'm sure it was just seconds before I was able to grab him and pull away. Noone was hurt, luckily. And the other handler and dog team were able to finish and achieve their SchH1 title after a break. Kane and I were dismissed, as is routine for fighting.

It was completely embarrassing and humiliating. In hindsight, I shouldn't have walked on to the field first, but I should have waited for the other team so that I could then determine the distance. Instead the other handler chose to walk up and check in VERY close to us. That's not an excuse, but after that the judge made all teams sit well away from each other.

I thought for a while about quitting Schutzhund. But I think the best place for us is to continue. Continue training with people I trust, who are used to working with dogs like this. People with experience who can help me become a better handler and help me control Kane better so that this will NEVER EVER happen again, in ANY situation. Either ON the field or OFF the field. So, I'm moving on. Away from that lovely line now forever imprinted in our USA scorebook that reads "Dismissed - Dog Attacked during check-in."

I want to celebrate some of my friends that did a fantastic job at this trial -

Maggie with Roland for SchH2! 84-78-95

Chris with Lil' D for SchH2! 96-73-90

Travis with the amazing Remington and their SchH3! 93-88-95

By the way, did you know that you can no longer wear a training vest to a club trial? The judge was going to dock me 5 points for that.

We finished the weekend in a great way - watched the sunrise over the Atlantic with my best husband and "attackdog." What a great start to a new day, a new road for me and Kane to travel and a new beginning.
Deep breath in....and off we go!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kane's SchH1 Protection Video

Here is our video of the protection segment of our Schutzhund 1. 82 and pronounced. :-) Now we are busy getting ready to do an OB1 at the end of January in Myrtle Beach. Our Obedience is better than what we did in December, so it's time to trial more and get over the nerves - both for me and Kane!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We did it - SchH 1 for Kane!

I have this saying posted on the wall next to my desk: "If at first you succeed, try to hide your astonishment -- Henry Banks." I subscribe to that completely and it wasn't pretty, but we got it done! We passed our Schutzhund1 with a 70 in tracking, 78 in obedience and an 82 in protection. I'm thrilled that it's over, although it's not a scoring I am happy with. Ah well - just more things to work on, right? :-) I am very proud of Kane though for sticking to it and being an awesome dog!

Here's what Kane thinks of trialing - pppfffftthhhhpp!!!
In a nutshell - the obedience went well only for the fact that we did every part of it. I didn't forget any part of the pattern, I threw the dumbell well enough (didn't hit anything - yay!), he did the sit in motion and down in motion etc. He was however very nervous, probably keying off me, and his heeling was way off. He was about 2 ft out from me, and sometimes even a whole length ahead of me. Not our usual style. :-( As a result of the extra nervousness, he also reacted strongly to the gunshots, both during heeling and the long down. He also sat instead of downing on the send out. 

The protection went like clockwork, and I was very proud of him there. We got a score of 82 and pronounced, which basically means that the dog is engaged and willing to fight the helper. The judges like to see that. Points were taken off for growling, shaking the sleeve and mostly for re-gripping during drives. Knowing that Kane doesn't have a fabulous grip, I was very pleased with this. Yay! I have video of this, and I will share as soon as I can.

The tracking didn't go as planned at all, but I think we made the best of a tricky situation. Halfway through the first leg, he found some other scent and went off on a little tour to figure out what that was. That tour lasted about a minute (in my head I am thinking we failed now!) but I finally unfroze and gave a second search command as he passed over the real track and he went off in the right direction. He found and indicated both articles (yay!), did little loop-di-loops around each corner so that gave us a passing score of 70. Lots to improve on there as well, and I've already started a mental list.

Dasha braves the A-frame during snowfall. Dasha and Bob got their SchH1 as well.
Mama, I can't see!!! Maggie and Roland do their SchH1 obedience routine in the snow. They got high in trial!

Rommel easily jumps the 1m jump and gets his SchH1 title.

There were lots of challenges this weekend, starting with a cancelled flight for the judge on Friday, so we had a delayed start on Saturday. An unusual snowfall in the afternoon, more rain and then a stunningly cold and chilly Sunday. I'm proud of all my friends that trialed with me, everyone that did pass, and everyone that put on a good show but didn't quite make it. We had some great food and a lot of laughs. Hopefully next time, it will be a tad warmer and I will be able to relax more. My game is to try to trial more, maybe just OB1, to get our nerves to go away so that we will do better for our SchH2. Many thanks to our trainer, Richard, for sticking with everyone, supporting us through all of it and doing a fabulous job as trial helper.

Meanwhile, Kane is at home snoozing on the couch after a well-deserved extra-large meal on Sunday evening. I'm so proud of my little newspaper-ad boy. Who would have thought we could get this far? :-)
Thank you all for your support and and good-luck wishes! We carried them with us, and we did it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We're ready!

Blind search is ready.

Courage test / long bite is ready.

Obedience is ready.

 If I'm lucky and my nerves don't get to me, I will throw the dumbbell OVER the jump and A-frame instead of INTO it. It's really loud when you do. Plus your dog looks at you like you've lost your mind....

Tracking is ready if you can remember where you put your corners. Again, while you ponder this, your dog looks at you as if you've lost your mind.

The dog is ready to track at least!

We have worked through our gun shot issues, mostly. And ironically enough I feel best about protection. Kane is doing a super job and all I can hope for is that I live up to my end of the bargain...

Dec 4 and 5 are the dates for our Schutzhund 1 trial. Please cross fingers and paws, hold thumbs and send good thoughts to me and Kane in Mt Ulla, NC. If you are nearby - please come visit! The more people I have watching me, the worse I throw the dumbbell! :-)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oh, shoot!

Hi faithful Schutzhund Adventures readers. We're back. Well, actually we never left, but from the lack of blog postings, you may have thought that we left. Sorry about that.
We kind of took the summer off. Too hot to do a lot of training, and we found some important "problems" that will prevent us from trialing until we fix them, we are.
The days are finally cooling off a little bit and we are ready to get back at it.

The main problem I'm having is that Kane doesn't like the gunshots. My bad. I should have asked to practice it more instead of relying on the (false) belief that we'd just pass that test, because that's what everyone does, right?! :-) 
In Schutzhund there are gunshots during the obedience section, once during heeling with your own dog, and then once while the other dog is heeling and your dog is in the long down.
While Kane doesn't run away screaming in terror, he definitely shows that he doesn't like it. If we are heeling, he "checks out." By that, I mean that while he may be heeling next to me in the correct position, his eyes are down, ears are back and he is not paying attention. During the long down he does the same thing, and I have a feeling that he would probably get up during a trial and flee to me.
So I got a starter pistol. A good one. Not cheap.

One side reaction to initially testing the gunshot at the training field, is that Kane started to anticipate the gunshot at the field which is NOT good. We would be doing basic obedience and as soon as we started heeling down the field, he would check out....while there was no gunshot. It has taken us several weeks to get over this. Basically we have just been playing on the field. Bring a ball out, do a few legs of heeling and play ball. Until he felt comfortable again. We've just about reached this point where we can start training obedience as usual again.

It's slow going, and right now our trial goal is our club trial at the end of November (before Thanksgiving).
We're practicing like crazy, so hopefully I'll have more pictures and video soon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Show me your Teeth!

Our last two protection practices have been devoted to working on Kane being quiet during protection. He can bark or whine a little, but constant barking needs to be saved for the bark and hold, and for whining....well, who wants to listen to that?
In order to work on this, Richard got Kane a little extra riled up. I ended up with this series of pictures courtesy of Maggie borrowing my camera and shooting some pics. Amusing, aren't they?

In the end, we got some good grips and Kane did really well on being quiet, so I'm happy!