Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Sleeve

Back in mid November, Richard tried using a new kind of sleeve with Kane. Well, new to us anyway. It has hard patches on both sides of the (desired) bite area.

The idea being that it will teach the dog to bite in the preferred spot. Kane has a tendency to bite more towards the elbow if he has a choice. We try to not give him that choice, but....kinda hard when your're doing escape bites and the elbow is just "out there" going "Yoo-hoo! Bite me!" And Kane does. The sleeve worked ok, I think.
We also continued on the heeling around in a left hand box with the twist and turn for reward. I'm feeling more confident about taking my time, and only mark/reward the desired behavior. I can also feel myself being more calm, instead of anxious or afraid to do the wrong thing. I'm sure that helps Kane as well. Thanks to my friend An for the fab photography assistance!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An important job

As you can see from this picture, Kane has had a very important job to train for. He didn't get any title, or get judged on his performance, but I will tell you he did wonderful. I couldn't have asked for a better friend to walk me down the aisle. :-)

Nice full grip!

We're back to training regularly now and things are going well:

very well, we're up to hot dogs every 15 steps, and he even skips a few of those. He is very dedicated on the track, going footstep to footstep, pulling me along. We are both getting better at corners. Me remembering where they are and him finding them. Sometimes I just have to trust

Really, Kane is a sweet dog!
Obedience: Our patience with the dumbbell is paying off. We train before every meal, pick it up off the floor, bringing it to me, taking it from me, holding it hard, outing etc.

The new thing

Protection: Still working on Kane's grip. It'll never be great, but we don't want him to loosen it or shake and growl too much. For protection obedience we heel around the helper in a left hand box. Usually Kane is very forged, but Richard had me try something new: when he does well, grab the tab leash, take a step forward with my left foot and pivot to my right and say "packen" so that Kane has to go around me. Then he will anticipate this (!) and not forge and be read to go around me. :-) It works quite nicely so far!

You laughing at me??? Look at all my nice teeth....who's laughing now???!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back on the Pole

To prepare for the SchH 1 we are back to working on the pole, a stationary metal pole in the ground with a 6ft chain attached. The chain is attached to Kane's harness, and then I hold the chain so that it doesn't hit him. It would be better if I held him on a long leash, but I am really bad at being stationary with an 80 lb mass working against me (i.e. Kane). :-)
The pole work is for working on his grip and the outs for protection. We've had some so-so sessions, but finally things are starting to look better.

Packen! (Go)
We also practice on heeling in a left-hand box around the helper, to get Kane's heeling under control while he is in protection drive. Then I say packen! when he does well, and off he goes for a bite reward. Can you tell he loves this part?

The thing with being on the pole is that
you always get some interesting photo shots!

Kane giving our trainer some lip....

And Kane always gives me
great photo shots like this one! :-)

After we work the pole for a few minutes, we run blinds (there's only 2 blinds to run in SchH1) with a bark and hold. Kane does very well.

Ready for launch in 3....2....


Monday, August 10, 2009

Starting the A-Frame

In Schutzhund obedience there are retrieves for the dumbell to be done over an A-Frame. Competition height of the A-Frame is 1.8 meters, or 71 inches, or just below 6 ft. It's a pretty steep wall, and I want to make sure that Kane learns how to scale it and "de-scale" (!) it correctly so that he doesn't injure himself in any way.

So we started practicing with the A-Frame at a much lower incline. I started out with Kane running over the A-Frame, and then he was rewarded when he made it to the other side, with his back legs still on the A-Frame.

I want him to learn to climb up and down, and not just take a leap of the top. Leaping off the top could mean serious elbow injuries, and we don't want that.

Then we moved on to throwing the ball over the A-Frame and having him retrieve it. The first few times, he went over the A-Frame to get to the ball, but then he tried to go around it on the way back.

We solved that by me climbing up and slapping my hand on the A-Fram and calling him and then moving backwards when he came the right way, again rewarding when he reached the end.
Finally he did one correctly all by himself!

Now we continue to do the same thing for a while, eventually raising the A-Frame up until it is at trial height. Then we have to add the dumbell to it as well.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tracking Again

Kane and I have 4 things (plus polishing this and that) that we need to work on learning before the trial in November:

  • Get to "the end" and track with no food.
  • Articles
  • Retrieves (flat, jump and a-frame)
  • Send out
  • Need to polish up a few things such as grip, outs and escape bite.
So we have started tracking seriously again. I have to track in the mornings because it is way to hot in the afternoons/evenings. So I've been tracking with Kane on both Saturdays and Sundays and at least once during the week. It's just hard to get my butt out of bed before 6 am!
We're up to hot dogs every 7 steps and things are going well. I nee
d to get better at remembering where my track is, so I don't confuse him. In my head, I start going "where is my turn? I don't see it! Is this it? or is it over there?) and it's pretty clear that he senses my nervous in-head talking and it rubs off. There won't be any markers at the trial! :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BH - done!

Yeay - we passed!

I'd say we passed with flying colors. :-) We missed a few things, but there's a reason the BH is not a scored title - it's either pass or fail. And we passed. (I'm going to keep saying that!)

The trial was at North Beach Schutzhund Club in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Because of the heat we have down here, the trial started at 7pm. The Schutzhund dogs went first in obedience, and we had 6 of those: 2 SchH1, 1 SchH2 and 3 SchH3. From our club, Carrie was trialing Sampson for SchH1, and Andre for SchH3 and Mike was trialing Nick for SchH3.

There were eight dogs entered for the BH, and Julie and I were teamed up for the first team. We got ready as the last SchH team was finishing up. This time I was more prepared for how to prepare - I took Kane out on the prong collar and after walking him for a bit, we did a few steps of heeling with corrections if I felt I did not have his attention. Then we "doodled" - meaning correct heel position, spins, sits, downs etc. Just little things that keep his attention on me and things that I can reward him for.
So we were all ready when they announced a 15 min break..... I feel we lost a little momentum there, but oh well.... :-)
Kane and I walked on the field and checked in with judge Mark Przybylski first, we were told we were doing the obedience part. So we set up for that.
The on-leash heeling went well, although I did not have Kane's attention as I usually do, but it wasn't bad. We did the group with no problems, and then the offleash heeling. In the motion exercises he downed on the sit out of motion (which he had started doing the night before, so not a huge surprise, I think it was nerves), but he did the down and recall perfectly.
We finished the obedience exercise and heeled over to the long down position on leash.
When I stopped, Kane layed down on his own, which he is not supposed to. I was supposed to take the leash off in the sit position, then tell him down. Then walk away.
Kane was perfect during the long down, as much as I obsessed about that. :-) I will stop obsessing now!

The traffic portion went very well also. No problem with the car, jogger or bicycles. They made me put him in a sit and a down in a group of people walking around and talking while I was out of sight. No problems there either. The tie-out was done with all dogs and then a puppy and an adult dog were walked by. No problems there either. :-)

All eight of the BHs passed which was very exciting - Kudos to my friends at Metrolina Schutzhund who also passed - Jenny, Jeff and Robbie - nice job!
In fact, all of the Schutzhund trial dogs also passed, making for a perfect trial - which is rare!

Now - on to the next thing. My club has a trial in late November, and we are shooting for getting our Schutzhund 1 title done at that time. Lots to do before then!

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures - it was dark and this was the best we could do! :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Trialing this weekend!

Saturday is our big day! We will be trialing for the BH, finally, down at North Myrtle Beach Schutzhund Club. Because we are at the hottest time of the year, the trial starts at 8 pm, and will run as long as we need to finish all dogs in obedience and protection. Tracking will be in the morning on Sunday. Kane and I are only doing obedience though, and I found out there are 7 dogs entered for BH. Wow! We are going to be up late! That doesn't even include the SchH 1-3 that are trialing!!!! I feel like we are ready though.
Hopefully we'll be paired up with Julie and Nobi so that all goes well.
We're driving down tomorrow afternoon so that we can have one evening on the field
with lights to get used to all that.

So, last weekend seemed like an excellent time to start training something new! :-) The sendout.

Our club has a trial date now of Nov 21-22, and we will be getting ready to do our SchH1 title at that time. This will include tracking, obedience and protection, and we need to get hustling on some of these things like: the retrieves and the sendout. The sendout is done while heeling at a normal pace, the handler then stretches his/her arm out in front and says Go Out (or Voraus in German). The dog is to run in a straight line away from the handler until the handler gives (yells!) the command for down (platz in German). Then the dog must lay down immediately. It's a hard exercise to do. Many people fail even at higher levels. So we started at a distance of 15 feet with a ball on a post and sending Kane to pick up the ball. He did it beautifully all 4 times. After a few improvements on my end for giving the command more effectively, I think we're on our way. :-)

We also started back up with the retrieves, starting out with holding the dumbell.

We had an excellent protection run last Saturday as well. Kane was in fine form and we ran all six blinds. We had a few issues around blind 4, but I think we have a plan worked out on how to deal. We tracked on Sunday morning, food in every 7 steps, and apart from one so-so corner and a few almost headlifts, it could have been a 96 point track. :-) Gotta go out tracking more!

Please keep all fingers and paws crossed that we pass the BH!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Farewell

I'd like to take a moment to leave my own online farewell for my friends Ghandi, Buoy and little Davey.
We had a memorial service for all of them last Saturday afternoon, and although it was so very sad, it felt good to be together as friends and be able to say goodbye to our four-legged friends.
My friends, their owners, could make some kind of peace, and those of us that also loved, petted, cheered, hugged and admired these dogs could be there to hug our friends. They were all such amazing, wonderful and talented dogs.
I feel so lucky to have these women as my friends, and to have known these three.

See you at the bridge you beautiful, handsome trio of boys. Love Always.



Davey Crockett

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Preparing more

Video of Kane and I working on heeling, about turns and position.

Kane and I have decided (well, actually I did) that the real BH trial will take place on July 18 at the North Beach Schutzhund Club in Myrtle Beach, SC.

So now we are in hardcore bootcamp training to fix all the "problems" we had during the mock trial. Here's what I'm working on:

  • On and off-leash attention
  • Prep for greeting the judge
  • Prep for starting at the start flag
  • Evaluating the group before entering group (for me, not Kane lol)
  • Tighter about-turns
  • Prep for traffic portion where other dogs are involved
  • Better heel position
I spent some time Sunday with my Schutzhund Women and they helped me work on the dog-dog areas and Kane did really well.
There is the "walking by another dog" at a distance of about 10 ft or so, and Carrie gave me some tips on what to do if the other dog is snarky, or if Kane pulls on the leash. It's better to let him pull than give a correction.
The other dog-dog area I wanted to practice was the tie-out, where your dog is attached to a line that is attached to a tree/fence etc. and left (with no command) while the handler walks out of sight.
With no command, Kane starts to follow me in the direction I walk and when the leash/line stops him he usually starts barking. Barking is not good for the test, so I would turn around and give him my meanest face along with a "Knock it off" which usually makes him lay down and I can walk to my hiding place.
After that, he is so focused on where I'm hiding, that he doesn't care about any other person or dog walking by (which is fine.)

Of course, in trial, I cannot turn around and we'll be practicing this part at home during the next few weeks, and at practice when we can. That should take care of it.

Here is another video of motion exercises:

I'm hoping Julie and Nobi will be our partners, but we'll see how things turn out. Julie lost her mali pup to a freak accident this past weekend and she is understandably heartbroken. I can't imagine what she is going through right now. RIP little Davey Crockett.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hot Day

Saturday was a hot day at practice. Starting next Saturday, we're going to start having our Saturday practices in the evenings instead so that the trees offer more shade for the crates. That will be good. Right now, I bring a collapsible wire crate for Kane (since it won't fit in my itty-bitty vehicle) and we found a sun shade fabric at the home improvement store that we drap over it, making sure there is plenty of circulation and some trees nearby for shade.

Look at my long's hot!

Still, it was in the 90s yesterday and I knew that when I was doing obedience with Kane around 7:30 am, and there was sweat dripping down my face - it was going to be hot!

Kane in action (Thanks for awesome pics, Jackie!)

I asked Richard for some advice on getting our about-turns to be faster and make Kane go closer to me. He recommended having a ball in my left hand and then when you heel and start making the turn to the left (while the dog goes around you to the right), "meet" the dog with the ball in front of his nose and make a 180 turn to the right (dog keeps going in a circle) and reward with the ball when you start walking straight again. Basically this will make the dog do the turn faster, looking for the ball. I tried it a few times and already saw improvement. We'll try this for the next few sessions and see if can't get tighter about-turns.

In protection today, Carrie was the helper. We started by running 4 blinds, which he did fine a little confused about the last 2 blinds. Then we went to 5 blinds, and then finally to 6 blinds. I stopped him and let him run intermittently. A few times, he was confused and required more than one command to "revere." But all in all, I think he is getting it.

Carrie says Kane is a "whale" in protection. :-) I think what she means is that he gives it his all, and after he bites the sleeve he throws his whole body and energy into trying to wrench it off the helpers arm. I can't imagine this feels very good to the poor helper...which is why Carrie usually has this expression of "Take the dang thing already" when she slips the sleeve for Kane.

Stay Cool!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Mock BH - We passed!

It wasn't extremely pretty - but we passed! (insert happy dance here)

The BH is a temperament test that is rated either pass or fail. First you go through a pattern obedience session, on and off leash, and you need to accumulate a certain % of points to be allowed to continue and take the traffic part of the test.
Here's a summary of what went well, and what did not go so well:

Good Things:
  • Kane did not break the long down while Nobi and Julie were doing their routine. I so badly wanted to turn around and look at him, but he was fine. Sean said he flinched a little when Julie did the recall with Nobi, but he stayed put.
  • We did not mess up any of the pattern - we did the correct turns at the right time and the correct number of steps for each section.
  • Did I mention that Kane did not break the long down?
  • Kane also did not break the long down.
  • I was extremely happy to see that Kane did not break the long down.

Checking in - I already lost his attention...

The not so good things:
  • Nerves. I have them.
  • The judge asked for a microchip scanner, which of course I did not bring (it IS the handler's responsibility). He told me that this is needed for a real trial, just so that I know, but it made me (more) nervous nonetheless.
  • In turn, my nervousness transferred to Kane and he sniffed the starting point flag (rookie mistake on my part - set up at least 2 feet from the flag!)
  • During the entire first leg of the pattern (50 steps straight heeling) Kane was next to me, but NOT heeling (see picture below). He was looking around for the bad guys that were making me nervous.

Oups, that's not exactly heeling.

Oh, we're heeling? Hey, I know how to do that!!!

Forged heeling.
  • The heeling was extremely forged at times, and even more so when Kane was off-leash. Proper heeling means his front shoulder is aligned with my hip. He's about two steps ahead of me in the picture above.

Group Heeling Exercise.

  • During the group heeling exercise, I did not pay attention to who was in the group and I stopped next to a tall, new man (bad move). Kane leaned over to sniff his pants (obviously "breaking" the heel eye-contact). I made a correction which is so NOT allowed. It's better to do a second command.
Kane (left) being good while Nobi (right)
does the down out of motion exercise. Good Boys!

The recall was nice. Actually it was perfect. :-)

I don't have any pics of the traffic portion because my photographer had to ride the bicycle around us. :-) Kane paid no attention to car, biker or the jogger. Then the judge had me bring him in under the carport (our shade) where there were lots of people, chairs and noise. He had me put Kane in a sit next to a group of people, shake hands with them and talk with them. Then I put Kane in a down position and walked away outside of the carport. They talked for a few more minutes and then the judge said to call my dog. I did, and my little boy took the shortest route to get to me, which involved a huge leap over the chairs, and almost over my mom who was sitting in one of the chairs. It was awesome!

Now I have a great big list of things to work on in obedience, especially correct heel position, my nerves, on and off leash obedience and distractions. We've already started.

I'm thinking about doing the real BH on July 18-19 when there is a trial down at Myrtle Beach, but we'll see. We are dog-sitting for another GSD, Sebastian, that weekend, and I'm not sure if that will bring too much stress in addition to the travel etc.