Tag - NALA - Dog Handling

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Saturday, May 7 2016

Good Dog Training Newsletter - May 2016

Its all about behaviour!

So here we are again another month in 2016 May and it has to be one of the warmest autumns on records. Great for night Dog Training.

Over this last six months I have been doing lectures at the SPCA in Rotorua with their permanent paid workers and permanent volunteers. This has been a most enlightening experience for me and hopefully a new way of looking at dogs for the receivers of the information as well.

I started the lecture season with a chat about Interaction. You see to me 'Training' an animal is not really what I want. I want a two way conversation with that animal by way of Interaction. I don't really want to have to beat an animal over the head and tell it 'I am boss' listen to me. I want the animal to love and respect me while knowing that I will love and respect them in return. I like to get an understanding with the animal that it is not the lesser being but we need to get our behaviors meshed in some way so that we can do things together for the benefit of each other.

Now the more I thought about this, the more it became a wacky way of looking at our life sharing with other creatures. For example I own a pet Cow. Her name is Wave. We have been living together and sharing for 13 years. It’s a long time to know an animal. She is just lovely and we understand each other. There is nothing nicer than the cold winter mornings in the shed with her. Leaning against her surprisingly warm body and releasing her steaming creamy milk while she munches on whatever I have prepared from the garden or from the bakery in town for her. She has a wide and varied milking diet and absolutely loves molasses but you can't beat a good strawberry lamington. I can groom her and hug her and she trusts me to do a lot of stuff even to holding her while the vet does procedures. In a word it is 'Trust' that she has in me. This is not unique of course, millions of people experience a great two way relationship with a large number of creatures outside of the human race. That is what having a pet animal is about. Sharing your life with another creature. Many people will vouch for their relationships with pet mice or parrots. And many people have tamed wild things to interact with them. Like hand feeding sparrows until a particular one becomes your best friend.

So having qualified that maybe I am not a Dog Trainer, but perhaps I am someone who enjoys interacting with other species by way of body language, smooth voice sounds and providing a safe haven and food for that particular creature.

I notice when I start to have people coming to training with their dogs that they totally do not understand what their dog is about. what it's fears are, how much it trusts it's handler, why it is behaving in a particular way given particular stimulation and how after two or three sets of that particular stimulation the behavior (for better or worse) becomes ingrained as a part of the interaction under those given circumstances.

Let's take the pet sparrow for example. Every day I take a piece of bread outside to a table on the deck and I feed the birds. I sit quietly in a chair by the table and eventually one cocky fellow comes up and takes the food from my hand. Next day same time same place that sparrow does it again, so I start talking to the sparrow while it is eating. Next day I start talking to the sparrow as I come out the door of the house onto the deck. That sparrow knows my voice already and he is down there sitting on the table as I sit down at the chair. .Then he hops on my hand to take the bread. Next day I call him he flies down from the roof, lands on my hand, I carry him to the table, feed and talk with him and then he flies away, etc. There is a growing sense of trust. Food is the catalyst for that trust. Providing food for its young is something all mammals and birds do. So in order to win the trust of any creature it is important to hand feed that thing, then it is important that the creature hears your voice in conjunction with that food. By supplying food to that creature we are offering to be a parent to the creature to give it a safe food supply and to give it willingly.

With this in mind it is only natural to me that if I want to win over a dog, I am going to use food. If I want best behavior outcomes and good interaction and good response to voice or clicker or whistle, I am going to use food. Food is not forever, as once you have the dog's trust you can get rid of the feeding by hand constantly while teaching new things, although I still really like to reassure my dogs by feeding by hand and later on throwing them their food to catch. I like their food smelling of my DNA. It is part of my interaction with my pet. The donkey loves hand feeding, the goats love hand feeding, and it is a very special sharing, in the same way as dining with your family is a very special thing to do. If you want the best warm fuzzies, sit down and hand feed your dog and let him lick your fingers for the gooey bits. The time you take to share food with your dog will be well rewarded by your finding it easier to get him on side to do extra things for you. Especially to get him following you around like you are 'the goddess' or 'god' himself. My Chip is a devoted fan of mine. He hates it when I go without him, but we have an agreement. I tell him to 'Stay, I will be back soon' and he lies quietly in the porch without muttering a word until I get back. Then I don't make a fuss, just a nice low 'good boy' and he wags his skinny tail and lies down again. About ten minutes later I will take him for a wander to do his toilet and then we will be together while I do stuff around the house. Just boring old dog and human interaction. Nothing profound or genius, just a nice comfortable trusting relationship. There are a few things we are still working on but at 21 months he has pretty much nailed it that if I tell him to 'leave it' then that's the rule. I say leave it once and I walk away and he just has to come with me. I am more important to him than fresh cow poo. Now that's a reassuring thought isn't it?

Forget Training - Interact with your chosen 'other creature’ the rewards are constant.

Club Captains report

Another good productive month for Dog Sports Rotorua. We now have 32 (+ a few pending) paid up members. But the best news is that 10 people signed up for the $180 per annum subscription which includes as much use as they wish to make of the Club and the option of a set of shed keys. The Committee took a bit of a punt on the idea in order to avoid what happened last year when for about three months through winter we didn't take enough $2 ground fees to pay the rent to the Stockcars. The money collected in advance will be put aside in a savings account to fill the gaps in the rent should it occur again. Club member numbers are up but Club usage falls due to the cold nights. For example for two nights this week we would normally have had 37 members use the Club. Instead we had 22 and the really cold times haven't hit yet. That is a difference of $30 over two nights. It makes a difference to paying the rent in the long term. Remember that the Ground fees are not checked or demanded, we rely on honesty of our members to put the money in the box. You can put in $10 for five uses and keep note of it in the sign in book so you can remember. Or you can be generous and give us $3 instead of $2.

We have the Club AGM coming up on June 10th which is a Friday night. Please note your diaries and make an effort to come and enjoy a bit of snack food and a cup of tea or coffee plus our Trophy and Certificate presentation for the year and the AGM which shouldn't take longer than half an hour. Most of our Executive are happy to stay on, however if you have a passion to work with us in the Executive all of our current elected members are happy to have someone step up and work with them. All positive input to our group is welcomed. Our meetings through the year are open to all members and we usually have a shared dinner before them and share all the club information openly.

The Club Executive gets very little feedback from the members as to whether they like the program as the Club runs it, or whether they feel good about their dog work or not. If we know that there are things working well or not then we can tweak the system to make sure everyone is comfortable with their training.

The Club is responsible for Club Competition once a month. A lot of members don't attend even though we advertise it widely. The points earned add up throughout the year and result in trophies and certificates at the end of the year. If you keep winning in your class you go up to a higher level. It gives focus to your training and really is a great day. It is also an opportunity to do our Sprint Competition. What is really amazing is that two new people did their first sprint and won out of B team and into A team on their first outing, so congratulations to Linda and Minnie and Carol and Jade. I finally won out with my Sophie to A Team as well but it has taken twelve months to get there as it has for Pam and KC but we got there in the end. Our Sprint Champ never let us down Nicole and Sophie (2) did three obstacles in A in 11.45 secs.

It is very competitive and great fun. You don't need to train for it and in terms of dog fitness and enthusiasm Sprints are very worthwhile. If you haven't tried Club Competition the next one is on the 14th of May, so come along and be part of the fun. There is no pressure and it is so nice to see all the levels of Club Members working alongside each other. Come and join us as often as you can, that is what Dog Sports is about.

Please send me your photos, adverts, stories, poems etc to be added to our newsletter.

Check out our nationwide placings for some of our NALA dogs in results—awesome !

Happy training
Debbie Trimbach
Club Captain.

Monday, February 3 2014

CLUB CORNER - Upcoming Events & Results for February


Thursday 13th 5.30 NALA Flygility at Fly Club night.

Wednesday 19th 5.30 NALA Agility at Agility Course Work night

Saturday 22nd Dog Sports Agility Competition for all (Dogility) 1.30 start please bring a friend, this is a club fundraiser so it is important that we all attend and compete. $4 entry, Ribbons in each class.

Friday 28th 6.30 at McDonalds in the middle of town meeting room.. Two monthly get together of Club members to discuss direction, fund raising etc. Casual, not minutes taken, all welcome. One hour.


Only one Agility Show.

Rotorua Jumpers Champs:

Christine Hutchings and Boston 10th place Jumpers C. There were 100 dogs in this class so this result is excellent congratulations Chris and Boston.

NALA Results for January

Nala Flygility Nala Flygility Challenge

Fastest Dog Chan - Raewyn Saville 10.18 Chan - Raewyn Saville 16.60 Boston - Christine Hutchings 10.23 Boo -Raewyn Saville 30.57 Jess - Hilary Quemby 11.30 Jess - Hilary Quemby 69.97 Astro - Dave Prendergast 12.50 Bootz - Christine Hutchings 13.15 Boo - Raewyn Saville 14.03

Nala Agility

Chan - Raewyn Saville 39.12 Boston - Christine Hutchings 42.32 Boo - Raewyn Saville 72.75

Saturday, November 9 2013

Good Dog Training Newsletter - November 2013


Agility is one of the games people can learn to play with their dogs. There is no such thing in my book as a team that cannot do agility. By that I mean that I am very happy to alter the way traditional Agility is run so that the giant dogs can do zero height agility, so that older folk can do a walk course style agility, so that people with disabilities of all sorts can participate.

Basically, I say that Agility is for everyone. Using the Agility gear to encourage the dog to be obedient, to come when called and to be able to work with his human partner even when other dogs are quite close - all helps the dog to focus down and concentrate on a working, bonded partnership which will carry over into everyday life.

I am not wildly interested in producing top Agility Competitors, however, I am very keen that all the obstacles are done with care and with the proper rules in mind. I have absolutely no truck with anyone who wants to rip around a set of Agility gear screaming and yelling at a dog who is going nuts knocking hurdles over and missing obstacles altogether. I love seeing calm concentration and efficient team work. I want all the people and dogs who come to my classes to be the best they can be. I want them to have a positive experience, and I mostly want to see a lovely elegant round of the equipment.

One of the dogs who comes to my classes is a German Shepherd called 1. I have written about him before, and his Owner Nawa wrote her article about her dogs for the last Newsletter. 1 is a very crippled dog. His hind quarters do not necessarily follow his front half. His back feet turn right out and he has a very dropped rump area. On the lowest hurdle height with tunnels and low A frame plus weaves, this dog is a joy to watch. His concentration and ability to track through without missing anything, is just terrific. I am immensely proud of the three years work Nawa and I have put into making 1 the athlete he is. What's more he doesn't drop hurdle rails. As far as I am concerned the work that this team achieves is every bit as commendable as the best rounds of Agility I have ever seen.

Most of the Dogs at Dog Sports Rotorua who are in the Agility group, started out in either the Puppy class or in the Control class. Basically they came to learn how to come when called, how to wait for command, how not to rush at other dogs/people etc. Some of them have had absolutely manic problems like our lovely zooming Bella the Greyhound, and our water mad Bella the Sharpei X who heads for the water trough in between almost every obstacle. Sophie was scared of her own shadow. The list goes on.

First of all we have to get all the dogs in a calm mood so that they can concentrate on work. To do that we use a system I have developed called 'Control'. From day one I want the dog to give us a little bit of off lead work. Hauling a dog around on a lead is not conducive to teaching anything.

Control class is completed by getting the dogs doing the tunnels, learning open weaves (6) , and learning to walk through a Cavalletti style hurdle system. We do a set of exercises that involve the dog 'referring' to us. We teach the dog to turn his head and meet our eye so that we can give next instructions. When very young dogs turn up to specifically learn Agility, I put them into our Obedience Class as well as the Control class. Our Obedience class has all the normal heel work - sits, downs, stands, stays plus recall and another little thing called send away recall. I encourage tug game play as rewards, and we teach toy and ball retrieve. The Obedience Class also has exercises using stakes in the ground around which the dogs must circle as a heel and at which point they can be left in wait and called to another point, or they can be sent forward to the next stake to wait for further instructions. After a new dog and handler team have been doing this work for a few weeks they have some options. Those who are serious about Agility really need to move to the Equipment Class, or Play to Learn or both if the handler has time to do two or three nights a week.

Doing two or three classes a week really speeds up the learning. I teach weaves by doing a 'Weaves Clinic' class every week. Everyone who comes to weaves clinic works at the level they are at. If they are learning entries or just four open weaves or are up to six weaves straight, or twelve weaves open or where-ever they are up to. Even then they really need to be committed to doing a daily weaves drill at home to get the dog weaving properly. I am extremely proud of the weaving technique we have developed for our learners and we have some lovely stylish weavers coming along.

Play to Learn class has 'Control' lesson at the start followed by a featured piece of equipment.

Week 1 is only hurdles - teaching send away, recall, left and right entries, teaching send-away, recall, left and right entries, getting the heights to the place that each individual dog is at, teaching dogs to stay with the equipment and not to miss a hurdle by going around it.

Week 2 is tunnels - we own five tunnels of various sorts and they all come out to make a course. We learn long send-aways to tunnels, running tunnels, recall tunnels.

Week 3 is contacts - we learn seesaw, on very low, almost flat on the ground, low, low Aframe, one piece of dog walk on the ground or up on two tyres, and crossover table on the ground with its on-ramps attached. I teach the ends of each piece first so the dog mounts from the side of the down ramp and stands two feet on, two feet off head down on a target. I absolutely hammer this into everyone. When we first walk over the gear it is on lead. I teach slow contact work. We make this gear into a course so that at the end everyone gets to do all the gear one piece after another. Basically, everyone gets to do all the gear one piece at a time, so everyone is out there working on a piece of gear at the same time, then they get to run the course one by one.

Week 4 is called sticks - is the weaves clinic using all styles of weave training, stakes pointing outwards, stakes wide apart, all the club weaves at various stages of apart and together. Those that are working ‘closed’ on weaving can do their weaves ‘closed’ to where their training is at, while new people get to have them ‘wide open’.

Week 5 - is a simple course made up of all the elements, everything is on low. I do a ribbon reward system for the best achievers. It is judged on accuracy of handling, team work and clear rounds. It has nothing to do with speed. For example a dog that may have only been able to achieve three pieces of gear in a row, is now concentrating and getting around the whole course without deviation. Wow that is just great.

Week 6 is a Rally-O sort of course with no gear just sticks that have to be done in various orders with sits and waits and recalls, sendaways, heel work, etc.

Week 7 is Flyball night. This is true flyball with only fly pattern hurdles and ball boxes, then we go back to week 1 again etc.

Once a month we have a 'Have A Go' day which is open to the Public plus our members. We put up a course of Elementary, or Starters or even Novice level and then we run it at various levels, for example - A 'first timer' is someone who has never done any agility before or is in their very first stage of learning. The course is set up with everything on easy, and the handler can use a lead to walk their dog around. I work out on the course with the handlers, especially the brand new ones, holding their Dog at one end of a tunnel while they call it through. Many people who have never done this sort of thing before, find the opportunity exhilarating and some will want to come to classes to learn more. Others might come back next month. The winner of this section gets a lovely Agility Ribbon, a real full size printed Dog Sports Agility Ribbon in Purple and white.

The Juniors is the same course with a higher expectation, these are the people from the Play to Learn class and our Junior Agiliteers.

Veterans is for dogs 8 years and older and is set at a low height and ‘Experienced’ of which at present there is only me and two of my dogs, is for dogs who can zip around and get disqualified if I am not careful. I am hoping there will be some other experienced people turn up one day to compete against me. The Club would welcome other Agility people to come and use this opportunity to practice with their dogs, especially those just starting out in national competition who need as many opportunities as possible to do things in new places and on 'different' equipment from what they are used to.

I find that those who continue to come winter and summer and in the rain and scorching sun, to learn the sport of Agility with their dogs are just the most wonderful dedicated people I have ever met. They have a huge love and respect for their dogs and watch their dogs' diets, waistlines and general health. As a Club, Dog Sports Rotorua, supports each one of it's members through the regular trauma of being pet animal owners, all the Veterinary stuff and the dreadful moments when one of our lovely canine members has found it's way to the Rainbow Bridge for one reason or another. We also just love it when our members come back to class with a new Elementary Ribbon or a Flygility Qualification, and we celebrate with them for their hard work and dedication. It is just such a rewarding thing working with your dog, getting a great result, and enjoying the company of others who love doing the same.

Our next ‘Have a Go Agility Day’ at the Stock Car Club Grounds Paradise Valley Road is to be held Saturday 16th November at 1 p.m. It costs just $4 and is a Club Fundraiser. If you have never done this kind of thing before come at 12 noon and I will give you a free lesson on the course so that you have some idea how it works.

The sausage sizzle is pretty good too. Bring Sunhat, sunscreen, good sneakers, leash for dog, treat food for dog and a sense of humour . I will see you there.

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