By Hexen –
I can tell spring is almost here and not because the plants are coming alive after sleeping through out the winter but because the dog clubs are starting to come alive with shows competitions and more people showing up to work their dogs. I almost wish this month were over as we are about to get very busy.
We at the boxer club have our first breed show this weekend, now mind you we are a small club but this weekend we have over 100 boxers showing up to take part. Next weeknd we have a long distance endurence competition where the handlers ride a bike 20 Kilometers and the dogs must jog along with the handlers next to the bikes. Of course along the way are check poitns to check the heart rate and condition of each dogs as well, after the 20 KM bike ride the dogs must take part in a obedience competion plus show their stuff at bite work. Then comes early Easter.
Of course members not competing are required to help out with the mundane stuff like preping club grounds cleaning the club house (which is where I am off to today). Holidays are of course non practice days and even though it is only March I am getting nervous of approaching April!
April 12 and 13 ( 6 weeks away) you see is when Hella is schedualed for her VPG1 I have opted not to part take with Uly so as I have more time to prep and practice with Hella. Can we make it and have her cleaned up enough in 1 month to pass? Of this I have big doubts.
We have been working very hard at her tracking, tracking is where she will have most of her points. So I am not worried. She loves to get out and go tracking!
Her bring of the barbell is O.k I will loose 2 points because, 1. she does not sit nice and close to me and 2. because when she picks up the barbell she does a 1/2 circle before coming back to me.
Her revier (blind search) is very nice but stellen and gebelen (bark and hold) leaves something to be desired and she will also have points off I am sure. However in 6 weeks and after what I noticed last night might save us and get her cleaned up enough to compensate for the barbell work.
The master trainers son is usually the one that does the helper work for Hella, we have been now teaching her to run into the blind and just to bark which she does. However she does not go far in to bark at the bad guy (So points lost as she is too far away when barking). Anyway she barks and holds until the master trainers son say “COME ON” , he says this to try to get her to come in closer and bark directly infront of him. But when he says “COME ON” this is when she leeps forward and bites the arm.
So now I am thinking (as smoke bellows from my ears), I saw another trainer use a scoccer ball placed above the head of the bad guy to build her dogs bark, as before using the ball her dog would only woof at the bad guy. Could I twist this thinking and method using Hella’s favorite ball suspended from a long line above the helpers head to bring her in closer to bark at the bad guy? Will the master trainer allow me to try this? I will find out I suppose after this weekends craziness is finished.
We have also been working on calming Hella down beofre her bite work or (Schutzdienst arbeit) as too much excitment and a barking wheining dog can cost you points. I hate to phrase it this way but I have come to learn that not all dogs should be worked at a faster pace. I had tried that apporach with Hella, but have come to discover that dogs that have a tendency to be nervous to begin with and get worked and spun up very quickly should be worked at a slower pace. The master trainer and a few of the other members also will quicken their pace to get better attention from their dogs and after weeks of trying this I noticed Hella was very much the opposit I have now taken to walking very slowly with change of directions (at a snails crawl) when entering the field as this seems to calm and quiet her much better. It was a little hard to explain to the mster trainer why it was taking me 5 minuets to enter the working field when it was my turn to work, but thankfully he sees progress in quieting her mind down with this apporach.
As I seem to mostly report on Hella’s progress with training Uly is also making great strides. His tracking is coming along however he still back slides when I try to change the routine just yet (such as changing the amount of steps I place the bait gets him a little confused) and for obedience work Boxers tend to be “laggers” walking just a little behind in antisipation of the next change of direction or change of pace.
What I have started doing for this problem is not expecting him to walk 50 paces looking at me before a reward is given. I took a step backwards holding the toy with my right hand up against my left shoulder to where he could see it and he would look up at me, after taking 3 or 4 steps he looking up at me I then toss his toy out infront a few steps ahead then quickly back up telling him here. This builds the excitment of when is she going to throw the toy out so is constintly now is looking up in antisipation of the toy being thrown, bringing him more forward and locking his focus directly up to my left shoulder. 2 weeks of practicing this and I can now hide the toy and still keep hi gaze on me.
We have started to work on blind searches every practice day and this is a little hard. Little brat knows I have bite toys on me and instead of wanting to run into the blind to get the toy I have placed in there he would prefer to jump up and grab my toy pocket with the velcro thinking I am dumb enough to have a toy in such easy reach for him. He is starting slowly to understand how ever that you run into the blind to get the toy there and when you hear the Here command to come running back for a game of tug.
My customers (6 months old on Saturday) boxer pup Bella is also comming along super nicely. She no longer must watch her track being laid and can now wait in the car, her tracking is slow and intense and you can just see her mind working to get every scent of her woners foot prints ( I hate to say it but she is much better then Uly at tracking, at a much younger age).
For her Obdeince we no longer have to use treat rewards for her to heal and focus and have now switched her over to the same method as I use with Uly (However to teach the coordination and timing to the owner is more difficult. But we have time (1 year to be exact) before Bella and owner are ready to take their first test.
Bella’s bite work is also really coming along and she has now graduated up from the puppy tug rag( fishing pole) to the puppy bite pillow and we added last night that I now hold the leash while the owner stands next to Bella and pets and speaks to her while bitting, we do this so outside distractions do not break the dog’s consentration from the work at hand, and they look back to the owner when being petted or spoken to.
Well that is all to report on this trip I have very busy next few weeks with helping at shows, traveling up north to visit friends (If I go to club 1, I promise it will be only to work obedience walking and nothing else! This time I have learned my lesson) Easter is the next weekend after so we will have a quiet non practice weekend then. But after this month it will be time to bust our butts once more in preperation for Hella’s next test.