Todays Training

My teammate and I met up to work with the dogs today. It was one of the best training days in a long time. First we’ve had Indra do three searches and she’s been focused on the job like never before. She’s had really fun and could have went on all day long. 
Later we worked on imprinting Nala with the Cadaver Ball. She’s definitely got the nose and huntdrive out of the wazoo. We are going to do that for the next couple of weeks and then go from there. 
After all that we went out to North Bay to let them run and do a little obedience. The dogs sure had a blast and so did we.

The Attack of the Shepherd

My friend from Dogs for Defense came out to last weeks SAR training. The training itself didn’t go as well as I thought it would. We reached a point where we definitely have to get more into the technical stuff. She knows how to search and she’s good at it now it’s me that has to step up to the plate and improve my search tactics but that is part of learning and the training.
Anyhow, after the training we had the dogs running together. My four and her Maliniois. Her brave husband was halfway down the field, she got Ronja ready and then he ran and she let go off her. Of course not only Ronja but all five of them chased him down the field. 
That being said, every single dog on that field has been worked in bitework and sadly a lot of people believe that dogs, that have been worked on a sleeve are evil attack dogs chasing running kids and people to attack which is just not the truth. A sound dog, with stable temperament an rock solid nerves, will not chase a running person and attack, no matter if it is a small kid or a full grown adult. 
A solid dog knows the difference between a friendly chase and a threat. 
When I was on the search in Rochester a guy from another team asked if my new dog was worked on the sleeve and I said “Yes, of course.” and he was like “I disagree with that, aren’t you scared that the dog attacks a running person?” 
Sadly, so many people have a misconception about Bitework and Schutzhund. For my dogs it’s a game. It’s not real. They are primarily worked in prey and not in defense. 
Anyhow, if you think that dogs that have been worked on a sleeve are evil attack dogs and will chase down any running person to take them down….watch and learn because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Control the Game

A couple of days ago Indra and I went outside to work a little on obedience and to play tug of war. Since hubby got ready for deployment I hadn’t really done anything with the dogs at all. We just spend time together, went on long walks and enjoyed each others company. 
Anyhow, we went outside with the StarMarks Everlasting Funball. Indra loves that ball and so far it’s been the only ball that they haven’t destroyed within seconds, minutes or days. That ball is over a year old and it’s still got the string and is going strong. 
However, we were in the middle of playing tug when some stranger stopped by. I believe he lives in the neighborhood. He flat out told me not to play tug with Indra. I asked him why he feels I shouldn’t play with her and he said that I don’t have control over my dog and she would attack me in the long run. No matter how much control, I think I have, tug of war is bad for dogs… 
Oookay… to be honest, I think it’s silly. First of all, you can play tug of war with any sound dog as long as you start and end the game. Secondly, tug of war, if done correctly is a wonderful and powerful way to reward a dog. 
For Indra, it is THE reward. No food, no bone, no rope or tug is more powerful than that ball. She loves that thing, she obsesses over it and therefor it’s the best and most powerful way to work her with that ball. Since she’s got a pretty good grip we can even use it to play tug of war and I do believe that I’ve got enough control that I don’t really have to worry about a vicious attack from my own dog. 😉

Area Search Training with Indra

If everything works out the way we want we are going to go for the first couple of certifications by the end of the month. She’s ranging pretty good, despite some people saying that a dog with “too much obedience” can’t range because they are too handler dependent. I still beg to differ 🙂
Also, the day before yesterday and yesterday itself, there were deer out in the field. Indra saw them, the hackles went up but she did not make any attempt to go after them. When the deer noticed that we were there they looked at us and went into the meadows and brush to the left. I immediately took her off the leash and sent her out on the search. She could have went after them. She saw where they went but she went to work instead.

You can’t have better training than and reassurance than that, can you?

A Foster Dogs Journey

Foster Chris has given hubby and I an interesting time in the beginning. He was such a pain that I actually questioned my abilities in working with dogs and wondered if I was truly the right person for that dog. He would drive the both of us crazy by frantically running through the house, stealing everything, throwing stuff through the air and literally bouncing all over the place.
There was just not a single minute that dog would lay down or behave. 
On top of that he was not crate trained and in the beginning it was a daily battle to get him into the crate. He initiated fights with Indra, I got bit and there was just no way that I could leave him outside the crate like the others. If I did, it was a desaster waiting to happen and I learned from my past mistakes. 
That he didn’t like the crate would change eventually. All we had to do was to wait it out. He was rambling, complaining, howling, whining, trying to get through the crate-door but after the second week he finally started to calm down and all I had to do was to hold the crate door and he would go in all by himself. 
His life was on the line and either he came around or his destiny was sealed. So how could I turn this dog around? He was challenging me every step of the way, especially since he’s gotten away with it throughout his entire life and it always worked. He was a Bully and he liked walking all over you. One minute he wanted to be petted, the next minute he would snap at your wrist if you reached at his collar. 
Not speaking of his horrible housemanners but that could wait, there were other issues that had to be addressed first. Once the obedience sank in, the housemanner problem would be a piece of cake. 
Anyhow, at one point he tried to go for my wrist again, that was the point where he and I “had a talk” and I made it absolutely clear that going up my arm was not an option at all. I think that was the moment where he realized that he can’t get away with it anymore. 
The second step was to strip him off the food. He was no longer fed, he had to work for every single kibble. If he wanted food, he had to work for it and to take it out of my hand and as we all know, biting the hand that feeds you, is not a good idea either. 
Each day we would work in the early morning. If he wasn’t working with me, he was in his crate. There was no more freedom. If he wanted to go outside in the backyard, he had to work for that too. I pretty much took NILIF to the next level and it worked. It really worked. 
He actually enjoys working. He loves to work for the food. It turned him completely around. No more going up my arm, no more butthead crazy behaviour, romping through the house. It wasn’t just happening overnight. It was a process. We had a couple of times where he fell back into old behaviour but if he did, he went back into the crate. 
He is not a mean spirited dog. Not at all. He was just a young, crazy, wild dog that didn’t have any manners. If he didn’t want to do something, he knew how to get away with it because he was never trained, no one every showed him any boundaries. He was dumped because they were scared off him and he was probably too much for his owners. 
It’s cute if a puppy is chewing on your wrist or romping through the house, throwing and tugging on stuff but if you don’t teach those puppies that it’s not okay to go up the counter, that it’s not okay to chew on your wrist and that it’s not okay to literally take everything off the table… that dog, that was once so cute as a puppy, can turn into a not-so-cute dog that literally rules the house with his bad behaviour. And once the damage is done, most pet people are just way too overwhelmed to deal with a dog like that. They have created the monster. But rather than putting the time into that monster, they dump it at the shelter. 
Anyhow, it was quite a journey and I’ve learned a lot from him along the way.
We know that he is not for a first time dog owner. He would be too much of a dog. He needs an active home that understands his needs, that continues to work him in obedience, which is truly a joy since he’s so eager to work, enjoying himself and very food-driven. He picks up quickly and has a lot of potential for obedience or freestyle dog dancing.
Also, practicing NILIF is very important with him. It actually calms him down. I can now leave him outside the crate for an entire day and only put him back in over night. I was also able to let him back together with my bitch Indra. There has not been a single fight anymore. It has also gotten to the point where I don’t have to work him every single day anymore. I started to feed him with the others again. However, whenever I do work him, I continue to work him with his very own food.

He has truly come around and is a great dog. Now that he’s got manners, is crate trained, house broken has basic obedience on him and actually listens, it’s a joy to live with that dog.