Monday, November 10, 2008

Girls (& Women) to the Worlds Roadtrip 2008

We had a blast during our roadtrip to Florence, KY for the WUSV 2008 - the World Championship in German Shepherd Scchutzhund. Although we all missed our dogs terribly (and I'm pretty sure everyone but Carrie spoke to their dog(s) via, it was great to see all the teams competing and to see this level of dogs.

It gave me a whole new appreciation for where I am with Kane, and most of appreciation for how difficult the Voraus (sendout) is. :-)
Thanks to my compadres for letting me sit in the back and get some knitting in while we were travelling. :-) Here are some pics:

Beautiful scenery in WV. Hey wvfarmgirl!!

The sign when we arrived said "German Shepherd Dog Show"
Haha! Not exactly....

Since the Swedish team was absent, I cheered on my fellow
Scandinavians; the Norwegians, Danes and Finns. Here is
one of my favorite Norwegian dogs, Kustmarken's Yatzy,
doing the retrieve on the flat and making sure I get a good shot.

Here is the same dog doing the bark and hold. End score was 248,
Tracking 76, Obedience 92, Protection 80

Good catch by helper.

Bacteroides Sera from Finland with Susanna Tunturi
came in 8th place with a score of 89,95 and 95. Nice!
Bacteroides Sera doing the bark and hold after escape.

Bacteroides Sera waiting on her protection score: 95!
(and I wish I knew finnish so that I could ask where
that weirdo kennel name comes from????)

Now, it can be argued over whether this heeling is correct
or not,
but it was beautiful nonetheless. Javir vom Talka Marda
from Germany with handler Michaela Knoche.

I'll never get Kane to do a finish like Javir,
but it was cool to watch!

I got some great shots like these....

....and then some shots like these.... :-)

Blitz v. Felsenwaeldle during the escape.
Winner with 97,95 and 96. :-)

Tired but happy! We had a great time!

Monday, October 13, 2008

9/14 - Keep on Tracking

The thing with tracking is.....the more you do it, the better it goes. This tracking session was back in mid September.
On the advice of Julie, I was tracking Kane at close to 24 hrs hungry and he did SO much better than the previous weekend. He did not go swirling off the track anymore, his corners were better and the downs on articles were faster. I'm lucky in that Kane's articles have always been nice, straight and he does it on his own. :-)

This time, I had run out of hot dogs, so I tracked with treats and I had cut up pieces of smoked deli ham in the article rewards. It's good to change things up a bit every now and then.
Coming soon - a report from WUSV 2008 in Florence, KY. The Girls (Womens) Roadtrip to the World Championship in Schutzhund. Or as the sign said when we first got there: "German Shepherd Dog Show" LOL.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

8/21 - Back On Track

Kane and I have been tracking about twice a week during the week now ever since our tracking started heading south. I’ve intentionally laid very simple tracks, sometimes just a straight line, sometimes just one corner. I put down hot dogs every 10-15 steps, and include at least 2 articles. I’m happy to say we’ve made progress! It was hard for me to not correct him when I felt he was doing the wrong thing in tracking…..but I changed my tactics and decided to reward him (with a calm, steady voice and food) when he was doing good instead and not reward otherwise. I let him fumble around a little bit on the first leg and praised him when he was on the track and being consistent. It looks like I need to continue that way for a while, but he is looking a lot better.
I think in a way he is SO excited to track that he sort of looses his brain during the first part, and then after the first turn it catches up with him and he calms down enough to do a nice track. We’ll continue this for a while and see how it goes.

I’ve been wanting to do this animated image for a while so that you can see Kane as he rounds the first blind and heads towards the second for a hold and bark. Until I get a video camera, this is all the action you get. You’ll have to add the barking and growling soundtrack

Kane runs the blind

Saturday, August 9, 2008

8/2 - Tracking Trouble

Ah yes.....we're having some trouble with tracking. This all started one Sunday when I drove up to Greensboro, NC to visit with Jackie, Julie and Carrie and do some tracking and obedience training. We met for tracking in a beautiful park with what looked like marvelous, "just-the-right-height" grass - perfect for a track.

So I laid my track, and waited. I walked Bronko's track with Jackie and Carrie and there were plenty of bad omens during that track. Bronko is (usually) a great tracker: deep nose, follows the footsteps etc. Right after the first turn, he inhaled some bees. We're not sure if they stung his mouth or not, but Bronko sure jumped and was very startled....and thus not concentrated on the track anymore (who can blaim him, right?). Well, then we also found ants on our hot dogs.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Schutzhund tracking training - we use hot dogs as treats in our footsteps when we first start out. Gradually they get fewer and fewer hot dogs and eventually they track the footprints instead of hot dogs. Great in theory -- tracking is (I think) one of the more difficult areas of schutzhund. I find it hard to read my dog while we are doing this and there are so many intricacies to eveyrthing about tracking. You can have a great track one day and the next day your dog is doing horrible. All dependent on the track, conditions while you laid the track and conditions while you track etc.

Anyways....back to the ants. I guess if I was one, an ant that is, I'd like hot dogs too. They are moist and juicy and easy to eat. :-) And packed full of calories!!!!

This is what ants do to dogs when they eat/inhale some of them: They basically bite them and crawl up their nasal cavity while continuing to bite. Nasty little critters they are. Not fun. Needless to say that pretty much screws up a track as well....

Too make an incredibly long-winded story short - that's what happened.

Kane now flunders on the first leg of the track - he is all over the place, including stopping to look back at me, once we get through the first turn, he straightens up and starts tracking like he used to.

So we're back to many, many, many, many more, short tracks. All throughout the week now that the weather is a little cooler.

On a good note - we had a good protection practice! :-) I really need to get some more tracking pics. Haha...


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7/17 - A Vacation does a (dog) body good

Run, Kane, Run! (this is the part he loves!)
Our trainer was on vacation for a week, so between the previous practice and this one, we both got to rest up for a little bit. Apparently it was just what he needed.

His heeling was excellent (still have a line on him though). But he is responding really well to remote collar corrections. Starting to forge a little, but I was told it's a sign of wanting to please, so we'll see....
Kane is finally (FINALLY!) starting to show improvement in the bitework. He had the best grips he’s ever had during this session. Full grips, as hard as always, and more towards the center of the sleeve.
Even Richard was impressed…..I was, of course, ecstatic. Go Kane!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

7/5 - Can we morph two dogs into one?

You can poke a stick through there!!!
So it’s been a few weeks since I blogged. I guess in some ways after Julie lost Buoy I just didn’t feel like writing anything….even though we’ve had some good practices. Richard (trainer) was on vacation as well, so we did not train for almost 2 weeks.
However, we’re back up and running now, so here’s my attempt at catching up, post-blogging for June 28 (which is kind of against the whole idea of blogging, isn’t it? Oh well…)

My friend Jackie and I were commenting that if we could morph her dog, Bronko, and Kane, we’d have one heck of a dog! Bronko has all the things Kane does not – a calm grip, beauty (haha – that one is for you Jackie!) and the list goes on and on. Kane, however, has the intensity and the drive that Bronko is taking a little longer to develop.

Bronko and his super grip

If Kane could also have some of Buoy fabulous obedience, especially the dumbbell part, then we’d be all set.

But what would be the fun in that, right? :-) I love my dog and love training him. For me, it’s not about the perfect dog but it’s about finding perfection in everything that we do together.

All joking aside, Kane is coming along very nicely in his bitework. He still growls as he gets closer to the blind, but he outs well and we’re working on the off-leash obedience during protection as well.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In Memory of Buoy

Today is a very sad day. Our friend Julie's dog, Buoy, passed away early this morning at NC State Vet Hospital from liver failure. Most likely brought on by a tick bite and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Julie is devastated and I can only imagine what she feels like.

Just last weekend at practice, we were watching Buoy work his usual magic. He earned his SchH II title just this spring, getting an amazing 98 points in protection. Buoy was a rescue dog. From looking at him, you would think he was mostly Belgian Malinois with a little German Shepherd thrown in for good measure. He was small, but mighty. His energy and intensity on and off the field was the stuff you can only dream of. He was a heeling machine. Julie and Buoy were the perfect pair, and they worked so well together. Here's to friends and loved ones, including animals, that become part of our heart and soul. Buoy, you will be missed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where we are at with...OBEDIENCE!

Good Attention!

Obedience is by far our “best” part right now, probably because it’s the easiest to practice on your own between club practices!!! I also take Kane to Charlotte Dog Training Club (CDTC) classes which are good for distraction and to learn little tips and tricks from experienced people. The wonderful teachers (yeay!) don’t mind that our heeling is a little different and that we do our about turns the other (I turn to the left, into Kane, and he makes a right turn around me). Kudos to CDTC for a great program!

HEELING: Kane’s heeling is excellent. Continuing to work on left and right 90 degree turns, more so on me giving the right signals (eye, foot) so that he knows what is coming.
SIT AND DOWN OUT OF MOTION: We had to step back a bit to make sure I use different feet for each when stepping off without him. He sits a little slow still – but it's coming along. Tried leash indications, stepping in front etc. and it works to a point. Still it’s faster than when we started… :-)
RETRIEVES: We’ve done no dumbbell retrieve work yet – still trying to figure all that out – what method to use etc., and I want to get our BH done first. I want to concentrate on what we have to do to get through the BH and not rush something that is so important, right? Kane responds real well to marker training, so I'm thinking that's what I want to do. Marker training with drive building.
GROUPS: Still working on heeling through a group. Without the leash he tends to loose attention...
LONG DOWN: Ok, this is a MAJOR ISSUE for Kane. He has shown some DA - mostly other intact males and in cases where other dogs were too close to "his" car. Combine that with a high prey drive (if it's moving it's mine!)and....well, a lot of work to be done on the long down. Laying down next to a field where another dog is working is such a temptation. If the other dog runs around a lot….he gets up, and in one case (when we tried without a long line) he even jumped the other dog. It was very traumatic for me, even though the other dog thankfully did not get hurt. I was so po'd and worried that the other dog would be scarred from the a experience.

For now we are using a long line, remote collar and working heavily on having other (reliable) dogs doing recalls right next to us. So far so good, but I’m not sure when we can start transitioning to no leash. I don’t want to risk anyone else’s dog getting hurt. Going to the CDTC class has also helped his obedience under distraction which I think will help here as well. This is basically the only reason we don’t have a BH yet. Can you imagine doing the BH and your dog is the one that gets up and starts a dogfight… awful would that be? Yuck. I’m waiting until I’m 110% sure he won’t go for it…maybe even 120% sure.Working on pack structure (I’m the boss!) and making sure things we do in our every-day life have a positive effect on this part of his training is also something I do to get a handle on it.

But mom, it's moving....Can I go get it?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

6/28 - Protection and Heeling

We didn't get to track this morning, since I was running a bit late. However, we had a very good obedience practice! Kane paid good attention during heeling and his left turns are getting really good. I make sure I step with my left foot and give an eye marker to the left before I do so. It's amazing how quickly they pick up on that.The walking sit is becoming much faster. I'm stepping down with my right when giving the command and off with my left. I also inhale a bit more before I give the command. I have to watch that with my breathing though. I've noticed that when we practice in the backyard during the week and it's hot, I tend to breathe deeper and harder and he sometimes thinks I'm about to give the SIT command during heeling. lol.

We had a good run at protection as well. We ran a blind about 3 times. I could tell that Kane thought about going around to the right instead of the left when reaching the blind with the helper. He didn't, but he was growling as well. He had good outs and pretty good grips today. We also heeled around in a small square pattern with Julie helping me with remote collar corrections (thanks Miss J!). When we had 5-6 steps of good heeling I gave him my bite command and pointed toward Richard - i.e. the bite was a reward for good heeling. It got better and better and the fourth and last time was really good.

Small crowd at practice today. A few people are on vacation, visiting family and so on. Had to leave early for my godson's birthday party, but we had a good practice. It was hot and humid today, about 97 F.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where we are at with…..TRACKING!

Deep Nose.

We just started articles (3 tracks). I’m putting treats (hot dogs) in a small container under the article and tell him down when he gets there. So far he lays down correctly and enjoys the marked reward.
We have been doing corners for about 3 months now and he is getting pretty good, he still falters a little sometimes. I basically stop behind him and make sure the leash is tight so that he cannot move too far – keep saying “search” until he goes the right way, and calmly praise when he first starts to move in the right direction. I still mark the corners heavily with connected footsteps and give a reward about 1.5 doglengths (about 6 feet with my dog – he’s an extra-long GSD! lol) away from the corner.
All in all, Kane is a pretty consistent tracker. He is fast, but not overly so. Keeps his nose down even if he doesn’t smell every footprint. He gets tired on long tracks, and I still bait the track with about 10-15 steps at the most in between baits (hot dogs). More towards the end when I know he gets tired.
I enjoy tracking, although I find it difficult to "read" what my dog is doing. I’ve read a lot about it, a few good sites are (of course) the Leerburg web board and
this site. and I always walk with my team-mates on their tracks, when we track together, to try to learn as much as possible. Anyone selling stock in Oscar Maier? :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Introduction and How we got started

Greetings & Welcome to our blog. My name is Lena, and this is my canine friend Kane, 3.5 years old. We are involved in the dog sport of Schutzhund, and this blog is a digital way for us to keep track of our progress and at the same time keep a log of how our practices and trials go as we inch along on our Schutzhund Adventures.
I am a first-time dog owner, and Kane and I got together through a a set of circumstances involving a newspaper ad, an ex boyfriend and no intention at all of getting a dog. He’s been with me since he was 6 weeks old.
After frantically doing as much research as possible online for puppy-raising, obedience training, food issues, potty training, vaccinations, bath time, nail-clipping and so on, I finally ran into a site called, owned and operated by Ed Frawley and his staff. This site has an awesome discussion board where level-headed people give much valuable input on various dog raising and dog training issues. This is where I started reading about Schutzhund. Having a German Shepherd, I immediately was fascinated. The control and level of obedience these dogs showed seemed unattainable at first, not to mention the joy that both handler and dog seemed to get from the training and competing – that’s the bond I wanted with my dog.
My dog is not of any fantastic working dog lineage, he is what would be mainly considered American lines, with his great great grandparents being titled schutzhund dogs from some very reputable kennels in Belgium and Germany. I suppose I’ll post a link to his pedigree someday.
Working lines or not, I was really interested in Schutzhund, and after meeting up with my current training group, I brought Kane out to see if he might have the right drives. He sure did.
I’d like to point out again (in case you missed it below my blog title), that I don’t expect to win any championships. Of course, I may dream about it a little, lol, but the main thing is the incredible bond we have developed and how much fun we have practicing. Kane is my buddy, my best friend and I love him fiercely for all the joy he has brought me. We truly enjoy every track, every obedience practice, every bite. We have bad days and good days. Days when I cannot stop smiling because he finally figured out the walking sit. Days when I wonder if we will ever pass the BH.

I’m not sure that I’ll have many readers, but please feel free to drop me a comment if you have any questions or just want to say hi.
I’d like to also take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to our trainer, Richard Shook, and all my friends that I train with on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. Thanks for all your excellent advice, for challenging us and helping us get to where we are today.