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Sunday, September 2 2018

Good Dog Training Newsletter - August / September 2018

The Good News from Raewyn!

  • Deb and Benni are on track with their Jumpers Career 1st win out of two in Jumpers C on his first Jumpers Champs outing. That's what I like to see.
  • Pam Sharp has caught the Agility bug. It has taken three years but finally she's got it. Jade is working really well and now Jack is getting the treatment and loving it. Pam has become a DOGSNZ Member
  • Tina and Koda and finally working off lead and Koda is less interested in the traffic on the road. They will go far these two. AND Tina is the greatest lawnmower at club. Thank you.
  • Sue and Floyd are working on their togetherness and sometimes it is almost good. We are going to make Flygility Floyds first sport at the moment. He loves to work alone.
  • Megan has taken over training for her pup Bobbi and he has a talent for Fly too.
  • Sharon and Gracie have joined Taupo Club to achieve Silver CGC and Sharon has become a DOGSNZ Member so they are coming to speed training on Wednesday nights to see if we can improve weaves and pace. It's working.
  • Christine Longton got so mad with me at Club Comp she made Storm do a round without dropping a single rail. I have a training method for Christine now. Just make her as mad as hell and her work with her dog improves out of sight. :-)
  • Alex has agreed to co ordinate the Rally O group for the Summer. Fantastic thank you Alex.
  • Katie and Cash are now out of Puppy at 12 months of age and are moving to Learners Agility in club Comp. Cash has the top Puppy Agility points for the year so far. Well done Katie.
  • Pipa is our fastest new Fly Mini. What a future she and Chris have in Fly.
  • Kelly and Awhi are back - baby needs bonding time with its Daddy. So Kelly had no choice but to come to class with Awhi to make that possible
  • Katrin has returned to Obedience with a new young rescue dog 'Snoopy'. Welcome back.
  • We had the pleasure of Anabella's company with Cairo at the last Club Comp. An ex Club Secretary who moved to Auckland a couple of years ago and is now back in rotorua maybe we will see more of her.
  • Its goodbye to Chloe and Jessie and their dogs Beaudie and Nadi. going to live on Waiheke Island. Fancy leaving us for Waiheke Island. Hard to understand really.

Have great training, enjoy your competitions and love your dog every day.


Sharon and Gracie
July Club Agility Day Winner

Report by Alex Jones on Mark Vette Workshop highlights/key notes:

Mark’s training and systems are based on genetic design, dog behaviour, neuroscience. His ‘training’ is based around gaining and maintaining a learning state, association, positive reinforcement, contrast training, counter conditioning and desensitisation. A wolf has 99.96% of the same genetic makeup of our domestic pariah dog, the 0.04% difference provides domestic dogs with:
Prolonged juvenile state (they remain immature, playful, able to learn and be a puppy for longer than that of a wolf because they can. Its no longer a necessity to grow up to survive)
A tolerance to unrelated dogs
Human orientation
Extended formative periods (1-4mth of age is prime time for learning)
Ability to cross foster (co-exist with stock/cats/kids/other animals without considering them prey)

The above points are used to elaborate on behaviours and mannerisms for training and learning behaviour throughout his techniques.

The formative period, this is the key time to:

Socialise and bond

Teach appropriate separation

Site specific bonding

Joining up/follow response
Learning state: (this was a primary part of the training) to learn how to recognise, switch into and maintain a dog in their learning state (Parasympathetic Arousal). When a dog is out of state and in Sympathetic arousal they are unable to learn and as such techniques are required to return to a state of PSA vs. SA

Dogs learn through association, counter conditioning and desensitisation, contrast training (pressure on/pressure off) and boundary setting. Corrections are made away from the handler so the handler remains viewed as a safety.

Building a shared language between dog and handler… Dogs are postural communicators using body language (BL) as a primary method of reading, reacting, communicating through life. A key takeaway from this is to reduce the amount of noise we make when communicating with our dogs and return to BL as a primary way of speaking to our canine friends.

We were fortunate enough to spend an entire day dealing with older pups/dogs that are outside of their formative period and displaying behavioural problems, something I learnt a lot from and hope to take back to my own work and that of my colleagues in the shelter environment, primarily this entailed:
Back to the den (re-establish crate training)
Joining up
Learning state (Parasympathetic arousal)
Balancing +ve reinforcement and contrast training
The importance of the initial meet and greet and steps to ensuring this goes well
Identifying trigger points and stacking behaviours
Key command was what is referred to as a “zen down” this is a modification on an obedience down where you are encouraging the dog to go into a down and then relax their hips to either side bringing both hindlegs resting on the same side of the dogs body. This position activates the vagus nervous system which encourages appetite, resulting in reduced stress behaviours, responsiveness to the clicker and establishing PSA, a clam state and therefore the ability to learn.

Tools of the trade: Lead, Clicker, treats, slip collar, clip station, crate.

I would highly recommend having a read of the book as this stuff is all in there, any questions please just ask.

Monday, June 11 2018

Good Dog Training Newsletter - June / July 2018


When I go out to Compete with my dog I am doing it in my time out from the dreary reality that life often is. For many working for a living is a brutal fact of mind numbing money go round. It is the glue that makes life function on a practical level but it is also stressful and boring.

So when I am working with my dog hobby I am hopefully able to shut out that more difficult part of my life and enjoy the company of my mates, but mostly it is my dog that I want to be with. So then I want my Dog and I to be 'Happy' while we are working together. Impressing others, looking to get ahead, being impatient are all things that don't belong in my Dog Training world. So everything I do with my dog is about building a bond of Happiness and Team work.

When I start on an Agility Course I ask my dog if he is ready. Chippy and Boo, Chan and Midge and Rosie all barked an affirmative back to me. When I ask Pansy she doesn't reply. So she isn't ready and I have to keep working on her happiness factor and her excitement and her games until I have her so sucked up to me and what we are doing together that she barks her affirmative. Then we will be getting somewhere. Do you ask your dog if it is ready to compete and play with you?


If you persist in a career with your dog based solely on the Sport of Agility both you and your Dog will suffer injuries. While most people understand that when they twist their knee or wrench their thigh muscle it actually bloody hurts, those same people don't seem to understand the potential for their dogs to do exactly the same thing.

When their dog lands on top of a maxi hurdle and both hurdle and dog crash around together then there will be some sort of mental and physical injury to that animal. Time and again I see at competition bewildered shocked and unbalanced dogs simply being commanded to carry on. Their handlers actually laughing at the stupid antics of the dog. This is just shocking.

I often write stuff about how dangerous Agility is as a Sport. But it would be a lot less dangerous if handlers trained their dogs properly. If a dog is running so fast they collide with most of the equipment because they are so called 'naturally fast' and the handler thinks that is great then that is a tragedy.

Fast dogs can still hurdle properly and clear the gear, they can be taught to slow down when the corners get a bit tight. They can get a rhythm from their handlers to help them around the course. Mostly they need to focus forward and keep a peripheral eye on their handler and they need to be taught how to do this. Hurdle recognition work, hurdle bar respect work, and anti distraction focus should be basic to teaching dogs to negotiate a course.

Watching dogs belting around a course on show days week after week smashing equipment really upsets me and really it is why I stopped doing Agility last time. I had hoped that in my ten year absence there would be more sensitive handlers receiving better training by now. But that is not my experience so far. I think my older years will be spent doing Rally O so that I don't have to put up with Gung ho handlers and Kamakaze Dogs, it just breaks my heart.

If you do find yourself on the end of stern words from me on the subject of training methods then that is the first warning that I do not tolerate people using Rimadyl anti inflams to get their dogs around a course . All the while continuing to injure their dogs at competition week after week at the same time resting their dogs thinking that that is the 'normal' behavior for the sport of Agility . Then they will find themselves jettisoned from my Training Groups as it is very obvious that in spite of all my advice and all my insistence that training happens in a certain way and is completed before handlers go out to competition, is falling on deaf ears.

If I continue with those people I become part of the problem because by now the solution is impossible, given the total addiction that some handlers have to successful outcomes in the sport.

Remember Fitness for you and the dog, Social Enjoyment, Bonding with the Dog, Increased understanding of how a Dog functions, and quality Training result in a happy long lived companion, are best aims and outcomes. Don't settle for less.

Monday, April 17 2017

Good Dog Training Newsletter - April 2017


May I say that I really enjoyed Club Competition over this last year. I would say that because my dogs did very well with Boo winning the Experienced Agility Class and Chip winning Elementary. Pansy won Small dogs on the flat Sprints. However, one of the reasons my dogs did so well was because I am there every time. I have to be because I run the thing. In the Agility section of the competition every time you enter you get 1 point so that is 11 points for the year. Then if you win it is 5 points second is 4 points third is 3 points and fourth is 2 points. In Learners you need three competition wins to get into Elementary and in Elementary you need 5 competition wins to move to Experienced.

Throughout the year a total of 30 dogs participated. The final results though show only 21 dogs as being successful throughout the year. The other 9 dogs did not participate on enough occasions for results to be kept.

This is a summary of those successful dogs' efforts throughout the year. My Boo is now rising 13. I will not be entering her in Club Comp for this next year. We will just go out and play on the course. I was thrilled with her win but she is getting a little tired. Jessie James didn't attend all of the Club Comps. All of his Agility errors were handler errors. Christine works very hard with Jessie James and likes to use Club Comp to try new handling things and good on her. That is what Club Comp is for. Debbie's Sophie had a patchy year with injury. She is coming back strongly now. Long may it continue. Her Sprint work has improved throughout the year in spite of her absences and not being up to full speed.

Chip is where he should be with an experienced handler for Agility, although I was disappointed in his Sprints at 5th in Club Comp. He mucks around with his retrieve, his speed back is excellent and his commitment is outstanding so I am really pleased for his future. In my opinion Meg should have won Elementary Agility this year. She has worked so hard and it is just the little things that have tripped her up. The difference between Meg and Chip is just the difference in experience between Katie and I. I believe Meg will come back this year and be better than ever. Tyson (Katie's little boy dog) is only running for interests sake. I think Katie and I with Tyson Boo and we should invite Chris and Bootz, should do a Veterans this year - any interest guys. Gemma and Ann didn't do a full year so points are down. They managed one win earlier in the year. In fact I think Gemma had better join us in Veterans as well as she can no longer jump full height hurdles they are just too hard. Shadroc and Alex started the year with a whizz and a bang and won two starts in Elementary and since then Alex has had difficulty getting to competitions and Shadroc has had ongoing foot and back issues which he is resting from now, perhaps he will be a candidate for Veterans as well. Hey Vets is starting to look exciting. I will design a special course for us for next Club Comp Day and we can give it a go. If you have any ideas for this email me. Like how many obstacles, do we want weaves, full height contacts or not?

Macy has deservedly won Learners this year. She has also moved up the grades to Elementary. She really should have won out long ago but Gloria doesn't come to too many Club Comps. The main reason is that she competes in everything she can from Southern Hawkes Bay to North Auckland. So while we pick our Club Comp and Nala weekends not to clash with anything that most of us might go to in the way of Agility, Gloria is out there doing it. Macy has had a very successful first year of Agility Competition around New Zealand and hopefully will continue to improve and fulfill Gloria's long held dream of a full on Agility Career. Nicole's Sophie came second in Learners and has one win. Sophie is still struggling with weaves but definitely improving. Nicole tells me she will be staying in Rotorua this year after all so I hope we continue to see her at Club Competition as she needs to get those weaves nailed and move out of Learners. Jade belonging to Pam and Dave was 3rd in Learners. Yoyo and Molly also got 12 points but Jade had one win so that puts her ahead of the other two. Jade will be the girl to watch this year. Pam and she are really bonding on the Agility course. Jade is very quick around the corners. A great thrill for us all that Pam and Dave are spending time and travel on giving Jade and KC a real go at sports.

Sprints for Big Dogs with all the handicaps in place was taken out by Christine Longton's Storm. His Agility was just wonderful too and we can expect winning form from him once he turns 18 months. Unfortunately he was only a puppy throughout this year in Agility Competition so he wasn't able to compete at height. I hope that Sprints showed Christine what Storm is capable of. He certainly turned on a great show for us every time he went out on Sprints Course.

Sprints for Small Dogs with all the handicaps in place was won by Christine Longton and Jessie James. I hope that Sprints helped keep Jessie James fit. His Fly course times have come down. His recall on Fly courses are faster and he is now doing single lane weaves in Fly. In my opinion Sprints for Jessie James are an ideal workout.

B Team Big Dogs on the Flat Sprints was won by Yoyo belonging to Leonie. This is a huge thrill. For the last two years Yoyo has run away from work at the club. Literally leaving the area. She is so fast and has so much eye that it pretty much looked like she would never concentrate. Well she is maturing and here she is putting on a spectacular performance and graduating to A team with handicap in the new year.

Small dogs on the Flat Sprints was won by my Pansy. What a thrill. A runaway dog I have as a rescue because of her shocking aggression and she is working so well.

At the start of the new Club Competition all wins are valid so your wins travel on into the new season. However the points start from scratch again. Sprints will change a bit to a thirty meter course for the seniors. It will be set up for all the senior dogs (old A Handicap section) to run the same course and the fastest wins 5 and so on the same as the Agility. It will have a maximum of 6 obstacles and will include A Frame and weaves from time to time.

The 50 meter sprints will stay 50 meters but for the large dogs the average falls to below 13 seconds instead of 12. The small dogs will need average under 15 seconds. The reason for the change is to get more dogs into the senior level to benefit their Fly work.

So congratulations to all who participated over the past year. The winner's trophies will be handed out at the upcoming AGM, along with other Trophies for the best Junior Agiliteer and the Nala Wins for the year.

No matter how little you know about agility Club Competition is for everyone. Come along and join in. and you will get better and better. The group are very encouraging of new players, we would love to see you there once a month. Check the date in the Coming Events later in this newsletter.

If it is wet Club competition is cancelled.

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