Oh The Joy Of Seeing Your Dog Training Progress!

By Hexen –

Last night (Wednesday) was first night back to regular training since the competition (for 2 weeks before usually you proof for whatever up-comming test you are making).

We now have started to train at and learn the exercises for the VPG1 (Vielseitigkeitspruefung für Gebrauchshunde) or earlier known as Schutzhund 1.

The same “walking test” is performed, and added are the exercises of bringing a wooden barbell on the flat ground, bring over a stright wall and also over an A-Frame obstechicle along with bitting exercises.

Up to yeasterday we have been working Hella with not mouthing the barbell (holding it quiet) and the bark and hold which is sitting infront of the helper (the man with the arm on) and barking at him until he moves at which point the dog is allowed to then have a bite.

The “bring” for hella is slow going. She refuses to sit close to me and hold the barbell quietly.I started her off with the sugguestion of one master trainer “when she brings the barbell grab hold of it and try to play a game of tug so she learns to not let go”, For 3 years this has not worked. Second master trainer says ” her nerves build too much excitment so reward instead with a tug toy when she brings the barbell quiet. This is proving to work and help her to understand to hold the barbell quietly (however slowly).

The bark and hold is a new exercise we have been working at for 2 months now and finially last night the light bulb went off in her head and you could see that she finially understands the exercise! When you bark at the guy standing still with the sleeve on, you get rewarded with being allowed to bite. Her whole body language (demeaner) changed, She barked at the “man” then looked back at me real quick as if to “ask” is this correct Mom? Of course it was and I could not have been more pleased with her finially “getting it”.

I had worked and started to teach Hella to search in the “blind” for the bad man. However since trying to teach her “bark and hold” we backed off with pushing that so much. Well last night I wanted to try. Revier” means you circle around the tent (blind) to retrieve your toy! Then bring the toy “here” to me for a quick game of tug. She continued with this exercise as if we had not stopped practicing it. Silly Cow now if only the wooden barbell did not pose such a challenge….

Ulysses has also proven to be quite a little challenge. His walking heal is very nice but on advice of other “Boxer People” until I moved over to Germany I only played tug with him so not to “ruine” his bite until he could work with a proper helper.

When I arrived in Germany and first started to attend the new dog club, I was not very optimistic that his bitting would amount to anything. He had many problems like not bitting with a full mouth not leeping at the bad man to catch the arm.The Master trainer saw the logic in my thinking that he was running to the helper so fast and hard that when he went to grab the sleeve he was actually bouncing himself backwards then he would “think” to bite down, kind of like a “gag reflex”.

My first thought was to go backwards in training (so to speak) and treat him as if he were a 6 month old puppy, so back to the softer more angled bitting pillows and bitting sausages to help get him to oepn his mouth wider and get a firm bite. He has now after 12 weeks of practice moved up to a “young dog arm” to bite on! No more angled bitting pillows. The master trainer had me keep hold of the leash instead of just letting it go when sending Uly to the bad guy to bite, thus providing him with a bit of resistance so he would not rush in so fast and instead LEEP to catch the arm in the proper position.

Last night I could not believe my eyes! He was grabbing hold of the arm consistantly each time with a full mouth and each time I was able to just let go of the leash as he ran to the helper to bite.

On the Obedience front we started to work Uly with the barbell. but now I am confussed. His recommendations are exactly the opposite of what I am doing with hella. When Uly brings the barbell I am to grab hold of it play with him a bit then take his muzzle with both hands One over and one under on his chin area apply a bit of pressure force /help him to sit, as this sitting thing and holding something in the mouth is the most difficult for the dog to master. I think this exercise was the most difficult for me to grasp. But after a few trys I was able to get my coordination and timing better and Uly was not fighting me as much with having his “mush squsished” with holding a hard wooden object in between his teeth ( yeah OUCH).

So it looks as if the VPG 1 in the spring time is not too far out of reach after all. Of course this blog will be on going, so check back from time to time to find out if Hella ever learns to hold the barbell quiet.