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Saturday, April 7 2018

Good Dog Training Newsletter - April / May 2018

All members wishing to renew their subscriptions for Dog Sports Rotorua for the above year need to do so by the 30th April. If you are a current member and all details of your membership are the same as last year then simply deposit your subscription into account no# : 38-9005-0409199-00 with your name as reference, If your details such as Address, Phone, Email, Dogs' information have changed then please fill in a new form from the club and return it so that the Club Treasurer can change your details.

Within the month of April the Behavior Protocols of the Club will be emailed out to you. Please acknowledge receipt of these Protocols. It is important that you read and understand your obligations and rights as Club Members. It has been noticeable that there have been breaches of the Protocols in recent times. Especially around the area of dogs who are injured and/or have been recently medicated coming back to club without Veterinary clearance. Our Executive Member in Charge of Protocols is Alex Jones in case you need clarification of any of those rules. Alex is also a qualified Inspector with the SPCA and takes her role of Animal Welfare very seriously.

The Annual Subscriptions are as follows:
Full year's General Subscription $30.00
Executive Member of Dog Sports Rotorua $180.00

To be an Executive Member you must have completed twelve months of membership with Dog Sports Rotorua(Inc). You will be supplied with keys to the equipment sheds and can use the grounds at any time you wish to train your dog/s and form training pods with other paid up Club Members.

Please return your keys to Debbie Trimbach Club Captain, as each year the locks are changed on the sheds and new keys issued to current paid up members at the end of April.

Please be aware your dogs must have current District Council Registration and your Vaccinations for all Dog Diseases must be up to date. Just today at Club Competition, Sharon Brosnahan said really loud, ‘well when is the next newsletter due'... today was 24th March. So I said 1st April. Sharon said 'Bout time' and Deb Club Captain said is it that time already…

And yep it is and even though we are only looking at producing 6 newsletters a year against the 11 we have done for the past five years, the time seems to roll around twice as fast. Getting older does that to years, they just start whizzing past.

Ever since Dog Sports started in 2006 there have been moves to start a Rally O group. Rally Obedience has far more appeal to participants than straight Obedience and is achievable at beginner’s level by almost everyone. Beginners is called Novice in this sport. There are only two levels. Novice and Advanced. I have been gamely battling away insisting on all Club members giving Obedience a go in the hope that one day someone would get into the Rally O thing.

At last hope presented itself in a conversation I had with Anne Proctor of Mount Maunganui Club last year when she offered to come and run a workshop or two for our Club on Rally O. This happened over the month of March. Anne brought her sister Liz with her and they gave us their amazing skills and time by setting up courses, working them for us with their qualified dogs and then giving us all a go. It sucked all our members up straight away. For the record those who attended the course with Anne and Liz were myself, Debbie, Alex, Pam, Tina, Megan, Jenny, Pam, Diana, Saskia, Leonie, Sharon, Sue W, Katie.

There was so much enthusiasm the group bagged Wednesday nights as Rally O practice night and for the last two weeks we have set up simple courses and tried new station work, just getting a handle on how the sport works. Last Friday 23rd Anne and Liz returned and set up a new course and judged us and were very impressed by the amount of work our group had done in two weeks as the improvements were immense. I was so proud of everyone. Even better there was so much enthusiasm for the new group that there was a request for a Rally O component at Club Competition. So we did it and everyone participated and the winner was Sue W and Molly on 99pts. Molly is a natural Rally O worker. Very good work.

It looks as though the people at the hub of Rally O for our club will be Saskia and Digby, Deb and Benni, Jenny and Bree, Diana and Billy, Pam and Jack, Alex and Texas, Tina and Koda and Sharon and Gracie. The rest of us will probably get there when we can. The surprising stuff came from teams like Leonie and Yoyo and Pam and Jack. They were literally outstanding given their lack of work in obedience. There was just natural flair, Debbie and Benni have real skill and of course Digby with Saskia work very very well. It looks like if we all get our Kennel Club Membership together we would be a real hit at a Rally O Competitions, although unfortunately there are very few in this district. Rerewhakaaitu in January is the nearest. The occasional once a year in Cambridge and otherwise travel to Auckland. Food for thought, we could do with encouraging more competitions within the Bay of Plenty area.

We have had our last Club Competition for the 17/18 year and further over in results the year's winners will be announced. It has been a difficult year for Club Competition with so many wet Saturdays but we have made it through and I believe the best dogs have come out on top.

The coming year starting with April as number 1 for the 18/19 year will include a Rally O program. The Club Competition day will begin with Sprints both A and B teams competing only in either small dog or big dog classes, an Agility Competition with Learners, Elementary, Experienced and, Veterans and now include Rally O as the 3rd sport for the day. If you are a Club Member you should be competing at this once a month Competition. You all work hard at Classes and Coaching and Practice sessions for four weeks and then we celebrate it and keep the results to watch progress of all our dogs. This day is the best learning tool your club can provide for you. Please try to get to a few of them.

I am so impressed with the dogs improving their speed and skills in Sprints. To see little Jade doing that massive crooked Sprints A run for a win today was so exciting and to see my Pansy go from unable to run anywhere through sheer fear, this year win B Sprints Small Dogs, is a huge thrill.

Winning isn't 'it'. The vast improvement in Dog behavior the huge upskilling of the handlers and the joy and excitement written on the faces of all, tell the story.

My friend Anne Proctor said of our group when she was coaching the Rally O, ‘You all enjoy it. It is fun. That is as it should be' She is right. If it isn't fun you are doing it wrong. Keep up the good work. I am really excited to be working Chip in Rally O. He needs this work to move his Agility and our bonding to the next stage.

I am really looking forward to the rest of the new year at our Club.

Saturday, September 17 2016

Good Dog Training Newsletter - September 2016

Staying insired to train people for agility

I have been running classes and organising Agility continuously for 17 years now. It is a long time. I have to look for inspiration sometimes to motivate me to continue doing what I do. I find behavior training a lot less demanding and ideally it is what I want to do long term now with my retirement looming in about five months.

It is about that long ago that there was a big stir up happening at the Kennel Club Agility Committee. There was an unwritten rule that Agility was for adults only. I believe there were children running their parent's dogs in novelty events but they definitely weren't competing in the real thing. Then there was this little eight nine year old girl called Chelsea who wanted to run in the real competition. Her dog Brodie was a couple of years younger than her but was still aged five when she started being trained for Agility. However Chelsea had been doing all sorts of tricks with the dog since they were babies together and the dog knew every word that her young master uttered. I was one of the few who supported that there was no reason why a young person couldn't run in a real competition and compete against adults. Now standards back then were very patchy. There were a lot of very ordinary performances. The inevitable happened, the little girl beat all the adults. Wow how inspirational is that. Chelsea single handedly lifted the standards of Agility in New Zealand because nobody wanted to continuously be beaten by a child and she put young people firmly into the competition arena as equals to the adult competitors.

Alex and Chelsea Marriner and I started a Junior Agility Group to train young people up to compete. I had them first to teach them some control and how to do the equipment, then when they got good enough they went into Alex and Chelsea's class. We had quite a large herd of variously talented young people but two of them were standout and both for different reasons. They were sisters and the elder sister had a beautiful Border Collie. She quickly graduated into Alex and Chelsea's class. The little sister grizzled and complained so much to her mother that she wanted to do Agility too and she wanted a dog as well that her Mother let her get a puppy from the SPCA. About the only thing that resembled a border collie about this dog was that it was white with black. Could have had some Labrador, could have had some heading dog, anyway little sister Katherine turned up with her ten week old puppy at my beginner class. At that time the age for training a pup for Agility was 18 months old and in hindsight I believe this probably is the right age, given that the dog needs to grow and mature its body in order to have the strength to learn agility.

I let Katherine do tunnels with her pup and feed him on the equipment. I picked her and her sister up from time to time and brought them to class when their Mummy was working and generally encouraged both the girls. The Club Committee at that time warned me that I was allowing training on equipment by a dog under the age of 18 months. I just laughed at them. However it got fairly nasty. In my opinion the kid and her dog weren't doing anything that would endanger the puppy or the child. Anyway it got even more serious and I had to resort to subterfuge to allow Katherine and her Pup to continue. I managed to get a key out of the Club which was almost unheard of, but as they would not allocate time for Flygility Training I offered to train on Sunday mornings and to organise the Nala Fly for that time as well. As no committee members were available to open the club, I was able to have a key. This enabled those who wanted to do extra training an opportunity without the Committee of the Club being aware of it. That they didn't realise I was bending the rules and allowing early training was quite amazing. However, Katherine got her pup up to a standard where she was ready to compete.

There were a lot of sacrifices made by the girls' Mother to keep them involved in Agility. It is an expensive sport and to have two children and two dogs competing on a very small family income was a great challenge. Other Club Members including Alex and Chelsea helped to get the sisters and their dogs to shows and on occasions paid entry fees and supplied lunches and accommodation so that they got the opportunity to compete as widely as possible. As a few years passed Katherine was the sister who continued to want to do Agility and who worked hard with her dogs to bring them up to the standard that she wanted them to be at. Katherine always had determination, passion and flair with her dogs.

Last Sunday in Taupo there was a dead heat in the Jumpers A. Chelsea Marriner and Katherine Martin. There was a run off. Katherine up first. The course wasn't at the top end of A difficult but had a couple of tricky little loopy bits and some nasty little call offs. Katherine's run was passionate and exciting and she smiled at her dog. Her body language was lovely and her dog never missed a beat. The run was clear. Then it was Chelsea's turn. Her run was calculated and scientific, all the corners were cut at just the right time. The experience and maturity that she has, showed through the whole run. Her run was clear and was the winning run deservedly.

Both those young women were inspirational and I saw those little children now leaders in their chosen sport. Those are the moments that make it possible for me to continue to help people get started in the sport.

Whenever I have Nick Chester as a Judge I remember the young man from a Rotorua College who came to training in his school uniform that I also used to pick up and bring to training when he needed it. Contrary to the young women who came to training Nick was fairly hopelessly laid back for the first couple of years and his dogs ran all over the top of him. I used to despair of his lack of concentration. I am amazed by his lovely courses and his judging style and his still laid back capability. It is great to see a young guy go forward in the sport dominated as it is by female competitors. Nick Chester also inspires me greatly to carry on introducing people to the Sport. Even those who may seem to take a bit of time to get a handle on their dogs may just go forward and end up doing some incredible things.

Inspiration also comes from those I train who have huge life issues which stop them from full time training or just make training very difficult. Those older people who are training for the first time with their first dog. That they persevere and meet the physical challenges of the sport and enjoy the moment of competition.

But I must confess that the future of the sport rests with the younger generation and unless there are young people coming into the sport all the time it will come to a point where it struggles to continue to improve the standards and meet the needs of the mid 21st Century competitors.

So I was quite shocked to receive this text recently.

“Raewyn in the dog world ribbons are for achievement and it takes a long time to get to a level to gain one. That is completely different to encouragement and in my opinion should never be used for this reason”.

It has become a laughing matter and this is not the first time this has happened. I think the club needs to clarify this before all the high achievers are gone elsewhere don't you think?'

This txt refers to my awarding the ribbon at Club Day to a little girl called Charlotte and her little mixed breed mini dog. The person writing the text was not at the Competition on the day Charlotte won.

This is what I saw in Charlotte. A small child with a fantastic bond with her dog. The dog noticed the Child's commands. The dog was obedient to the child achieving an A frame, collapsible tunnel bendy tunnel and several hurdles including a wing jump. The child rewarded the dog and smiled and the dog responded. At the sprints run, Debbie Trimbach taught her how to get her dog to run away to the bucket and come back and she and the dog achieved it, I was inspired.

One day that little girl is going to remember that ribbon experience and she may go ahead and do some sort of animal work. She has the x factor. I have seen it before read top four paragraphs. There is another child in our club who has the same x factor, but she doesn't have a dog that she can call her own yet. I am watching her very closely, at some point she will probably also win a Club Ribbon.

So I apologise to those Club Members who feel that I am undermining the integrity of the Club. I hope you will forgive me for indulging in rewarding Inspirational performance against all odds. It is the one thing that has always kept me going.


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.

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