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.

Monday, June 1, 2009

We're Ready!

Thanks to some good friends' advice and an excellent obedience practice on Saturday morning, I was able to get rid of my nerves and Kane and I will be entering the MOCK trial this coming Saturday for the BH. We will be doing the BH with Nobi and his handler Julie, which is the team we have been practicing with the most.

I wanted to do the long down exactly as in trial, so it was only done with a fur-saver collar. Up until now, we have always used a long line and the e-collar. I also made sure that I walked about 30 paces away and kept my back turned (most of) the entire time.

I'm happy to report that Kane was a model long down dog. Julie and Nobi put him to the test, running close, catching the ball nearby and Nobi even did one of his signature victory laps near Kane and Kane did not move. :-) Yeay!

The mock trial doesn't count, but we are still putting the final touches on a few things such as off-leash heeling, about turns, sit and down out of motion and pace changes. I'm memorizing the BH pattern that we have to do, first on leash and then off leash.

Our club, Piedmont Schutzhund Club, now has a logo, courtesy of yours truly. Nice, isn't it? :-) Website coming soon!

This past weekend was spent cleaning up the training field, adding crush and run to the entrance, tearing down the old lattice in the blinds, painting posts and putting up new lattice, weed whacking, putting the roof on the carport (the "gondola" as we call it). Mike and Jack have built a brand new A frame and fixed up the jump. Everything looks brand, spanking new.

On Saturday, I was also asked to hold one of the Konfederate Kennel bulldogs during puppy tugtime. This is done with the beginner dogs, usually as a group, to get the dogs as excited as possible. My pretty brindle guy, Mandingo, did awesome and almost knocked me off my feet a few times. It was fun to go back to this stage for a few minutes! Be a tree, Lena. Be a tree.

Oh, and Kane had an excellent protection session as well. We are running 3-4 blinds intermittently stopping and not stopping. Now we just have to keep at it for a little while, but Kane is doing great. I can tell that the obedience is having an effect on his outs as well.