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!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Keepin' it simple

Many times when I come to practice, especially for obedience, I feel like I have to "do it all" or practice every single thing. I don't have an A-Frame at home, so I want to do that. It's hard to find a group at home, so I want to do that. I want to do a long down. I want to do a send out. I want to do a check-in. I want to do EVERYTHING. In about 20 minutes or

Kane is doing excellent on the jump retrieves.

Nice retrieve comeback.

With some advice from more experienced handlers and through my own pondering, I've decided to keep it simple. Work on max 2-3 things. Keep it short, fun and get help from my club mates on watching for things I can't see myself.
This has really made our obedience sessions a lot more fun - and a lot more rewarding!
Yay for keepin' it simple!

Kane licking his chops in anticipation of the

Friday, April 9, 2010

Protection Benchmark

In order to get ready for the July trial, we did a protection benchmark study with Kane a few weekends ago. It sounds very scientific, but it's not. :-) We basically ran through the Schutzhund 1 protection from start to finish. With the e-collar (wouldn't want him to flip out completely). Overall it went well. Nothing majorly crazy. By splitting the exercise up into all the individual steps (in my notebook) and then comparing impressions with my trainer Richard and my friend Julie, we pieced together a plan of things that we need to work on. Here it is:

Running 1 Blind
- Good. Work on true blind search (come back to me) vs just running from blind 1 to 2.
Blind approach - Good, no nudging in blind.
Bark & Hold - Good, solid.
Heel Away - Needs work. Blind obedience. (we're not doing a call out)

Setup for escape - Needs work. Blind obedience.

Escape - Good
Out - Good
Reattack - Good
Drive - Good
Out - Ok - he tends to out before I say so. I need to time that better.
Pick-up - Good, but could use some work.
Heeling down the field - Good
Setup for courage test - Good (I need to know what I can and cannot do here!)Courage test - Good
Out - Good
Drive - Good
Out - Good

Pickup - Good
Setup for side transport - Ok, needs some work with heeling
Side Transport - Ok, needs some work with slowing down
Halt - ok, should sit sooner
Turnover - Good

Now we know what to work on! Onward!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Practicing Retrieves - A Video

Kane's retrieves are looking really good now. We just have a little bit of fine-tuning to do such as:
  • My throwing technique - overhand or underhand? What makes the dumbbell stick the best? (i.e. not hit the ground and roll.)
  • Kane coming to sit straight in front of me (as opposed to one side or the other.)
  • Kane sitting while I throw the dumbbell, and only leave on command.
In this video I was handler AND camerawoman. So I know my reward markers are a bit off (i.e. late!), but I wanted to show how good he really is. The schutzhund jump is 1 m tall, that is a little more than 3 ft 3 inches.
Sorry for all the bouncing around during the video, hope you don't get seasick!

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Plans

Ok here we go:

Schutzhund 1 Title - July trial at North Myrtle Beach
Schutzhund 2 Title - November trial at homegrounds (Piedmonth Schutzhund Club)

Let the training begin! (well, it already has started, but I thought I'd post my goals here!)

Hopefully this "post it to the world" mentality will make sure I really get this done.
We're close in many ways - now that we have more daylight, we've been training obedience every day at home. I will start slipping in some tracking as well. Hooray! I'm excited! (secretly I think Kane is too!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Retrieves on the Flat, jump and A-frame. Check!!

I'm an A-frame pro, mom!

Can I just say how proud I am of my awesome dog??!!!??

As you know, faithful readers, we have been struggling with the dumbbell for quite some time. I wanted so badly to keep this a motivational exercise (as opposed to forced, which DOES work for some people, and I am using in some parts of protection), knowing that it would take us longer to teach it this way. And it did. It's taken probably close to 9 or 10 months to get to this point.

At practice this past weekend, Kane did retrieve on the flat, retrieve over the jump and retrieve over the A-Frame. All with the dumbell. :-)
Now, we've not perfected it yet, but 90% of the work is done. I have to learn to throw the dumbbell (learn how it flies through the air to make it go wh
ere I want it to go), we need to up the level on the jump to get it to competition height (one board away), and the A-frame needs to slowly be brought up to the correct height (which is 6ft, I think). Right now, we're at about 4 ft. As far as the 9-10 months go, I'm also not a consistent trainer. I try to work with Kane every day, but sometimes I'm just bone tired after a long day at work, or we do something else etc. So the same method could have worked quicker for someone who has more time.

Nice air in this jump!

On the advice of my friend Julie, we started doing "hold" dumbell exercises at every mealtime. In the beginning, Kane would take it from my hand and hold it. He chewed a lot at first, not liking how it felt in his mouth. Then we would progress to taking it from me at different heights and positions (up, down, left, right), adding more difficulty to the "hold" part (to where I could lean back and he
wouldn't let go). If he let go, or did not pick up, we would calmly start over again. He could see his food bowl with all that yummy chicken waiting for him during all this. Boy, did he whine!

"...and then you put your paws together like this"

Finally we got to where he would take it from me, sit where he was while I moved backward, and on command he would bring it to me and hold it. Then he would let go when I said "out."
Julie also recommended I play little keep-away games with him. I would get the dumbbell out and walk around talking to it, throwing it up in the air, and all in all, acting like I had this great toy that he couldn't play with. Then I would throw it and race him to it. If I got to it first, I played with i
t for a few minutes, and if he got it, he got to keep it for a few minutes before I would run backwards giving a recall command. Worked like a charm. My boy is a jealous player, always wanting to have the best toy....

The last piece of the puzzle was to do some attraction play with the dumbbell while Kane was on leash being restrained by someone else. I would stand just out of reach while running back and forth moving the dumbbell around asking Kane if he wants to play. Then I would throw the dumbbell and say "Bring" while it was still bouncing and the person helping me would let go. Kane loves to chase anything that moves, so this was a good way to have him shoot like a rocket after that dumbbell. Thanks for the tip, Richard!

Retrieve on the flat. Yes, that is me underneath all those clothes. It was cold!

I'm hoping it may be a bit warmer next weekend, and if so, I'll try to shoot some video of the retrieves.
Richard says we're on our way to some high scores, and since he claims he reads my blog, I'm going to hold him to that! At least in obedience! lol.
Thanks to Julie for the awesome photography! :-)