Sunday, March 27, 2016

CWAGS Scent League and Barn Hunt Practice

I signed River up for the scent league at Anything Goes for Dogs in Marysville. We had two trials in March and I'm pleased to say that River finally, finally got her level 2 Title. She's had Levels 1 and 3 but Level 2 remained elusive.

On the second trial, I signed her up for 2 searches at Level 1 and 2 each. Usually, she's quite excited when she first goes in to search and alerts to the wrong box since she's more interested in just running around, so we get it wrong. But I'm happy to say that she seemed to focus much more quickly this time and she qualified in all 4 searches. These Q's at the levels she's already titled in now go towards her ACE in those levels. In order to get an ACE in Level 1, you need 10 Q's. This takes awhile since not many places are holding CWAGS scent trials in Columbus.

River is also scheduled for the second scent league in April at Anything Goes as well. Next month is levels 3 and 4. Since we have no Q's at level 4, I've decided to just enter her at Level 4. If she has to do 4 searches at the higher levels she may decide she doesn't want to play anymore by the time we do the level 4 search.

Last week we also went to Dogwood Agility in Ostrander, Ohio for a barn hunt practice. It's hard to practice at home when you don't have a rat available. Besides, I don't think River needs the practice, she knows how to find the rat just fine, but the barn hunt practices are more for me. There's several rules I have to follow as a handler and I admit, I need more practice. So we did two practice runs at the Open level, which means River finds 2 rats and I'm pleased to say she was on fire! We haven't had a good barn hunt since last fall so its been 6 months. And since this was a new place, I didn't think she would function all that well but we walked the entire location (inside and out) and I asked perfect strangers if they would pet my dog and she seemed to calm down a lot.

I think the training we did in the Rowdy and Reactive class has helped her. I'll continue having her lay at my feet at locations where there is a lot of activity.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Rowdy & Reactive Class

River is my 4 year old (soon to be 5) German Shepard mix female dog. We are pretty active in the dog world. We take agility classes, scent work and barn hunting classes and on occasion, we take obedience classes. And 80% of the time, she's great around other dogs but she has some trouble with dogs that give her direct eye contact or have a certain look. She will lung to the end of the leash and bark like she wants to kill something and she seems to do this quite randomly. She'll interact with a certain dog or ignore them completely for a few weeks then at the 5th encounter she lungs and barks. So she's not horrible but if I can work with her to where she doesn't do this anymore or a lot less that would great. Some dogs are just genetically pre-disposed for certain behavior but I'm hoping to get rid of this behavior or at least mostly.

So, I signed her up for a class at PosiDog in Hilliard, called Rowdy & Reactive. The class is held on Sunday's and is a rolling entry class so it's going on all the time, which is nice. You attend a 2 hour long orientation where you talk about your dog and about his/her lunging, barking issues and under what circumstances they occur, then you go in and watch the class which is really helpful.

Next, you do your homework with your dog. There's an exercise you work with your dog feeding them when you say, "here!" in a high tone of voice. River and I worked on this for about 3 weeks. It was over the holidays and I thought it was a good time to work on it and then start classes after Christmas. After you get the "here!" exercise down, you go in for a 45 minute individual session, where they see how your dog is responding to the exercise and they test your dog with what they call a "helper dog" or a dog that is really calm and couldn't care less about your dog or what its doing. After your evaluation, you start classes on Sundays and you attend 6 classes.

In the class, the goal is for your dog to get glimpse of other dogs without reacting. So they have portable, 1/2 walls that made of strong cardboard or foam core or something like that so that they can create a gap in the wall around you that you and your dog are behind. You walk past and when your dog turns to look out (and they will) and see the helper dog, you say "here!" and they turn back to you and get a tasty treat. As your dog progresses, the gap gets wider, the helper dogs move, bark or jog or whatever to help challenge your dog.

There is some special equipment you need to get. Every dog is attached to their owner at 2 points - one at the collar and one at the harness. They suggested getting the Freedom harness which you can attach your leash to your dog at the back or the chest. They suggest attaching at the front and that way if your dog reacts you can gently pull their chest around and away from the dog they're reacting to and you have a lot more control over your dog. The leash is attached to the collar and the waist leash is attached around your hips and to the harness. PosiDog also provides the waist leash if you don't have one. This is also called "hands free" leash.

The other equipment you need is food. Lots and lots of the best food your dog wants. I don't mean Pupperoni sticks or Milkbones either. Roast chicken, steak, tuna, salmon, canned tripe. You know the good stuff. Food your dog doesn't get on a daily basis. River is a true carnivore and pretty much snubs her nose at everything unless it's a form of protein but she really, really likes American cheese slices so I take that along with various meats. You can test your dog to see what they like best but you should take at least 5 different things. You'll want to switch up your treats and keep it interesting.

We went to class for several weeks and then we moved to level 2. In this class, you work on your dog lying next to you while other dogs are working. You also work your dog in the center of the room while other dogs are watching. They also introduce items/sounds that may make your dog reactive. For example, they ride a scooter around or roll a large ball or make a plastic bottle snap and pop. All of these are challenges for reactive dogs. We've been going to this class for almost 3 months and during that time, I've limited her contact with other dogs but it's back to the real world soon and I'm hoping that she'll be a little more relaxed out and about. I haven't taken any other class at PosiDog but I was pleased with all the trainers we interacted with there. So if your dog is a bit of bully or reactive to other dogs you might want to check out PosiDog or look for a dog class in your area that addresses reactivity.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

First K9SD Trial

I entered River in the first K9SD trial held at Anything Goes for Dogs in Marysville, Ohio on February 27. Novice level consists of a container search and an interior room search. The dog has 2 minutes to find the source of the scent. You need to qualify on 2 legs in order to title.

There were over 20 dogs at the first trial and many got at least 1 Q and we had 5 dogs get their novice title.

River was too excited her first search and didn't Q but she did well the remaining 3 searches. So we got 1 Q towards the novice title.

A second trial will be held in May along with a practice intermediate search which consists of a vehicle search and outdoor search.