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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.

Thursday, August 31 2017

Good Dog Training Newsletter - September 2017

Working with the donkey!

You may notice in the photograph that Koda the full coated Border Collie (Belonging to Tina) is a part of the walking pack.

This is my Donkey Sam forcing the dogs to be a pack and keeping everyone on the straight and narrow even with Recco (Tina's son) riding him, he is still in control. Nineteen plus years ago I got baby donkey Sam. He will be 20 in December. It took me three years to get him anywhere near trained and to stop him being naughty. I also had to teach him to accept loads on his back(he can carry 70kgs safely) and to pull carts and logs of wood and other useful things he can do on the farm, plus pull his cart with a couple of people riding in it (he can pull about 350kgs). Believe me it makes training dogs very easy.

As he became more compliant there were some things I noticed about his behavior with dogs. He wanted to dominate them. He wanted to discipline them with his feet, but he didn't want to really hurt them. He had a heap of opportunity to do damage but he never did. He has helped me to train seven of my own dogs to walk on lead properly, he has trained their behavior around him and other stock and he has taught the dogs that they need to understand someone else is the boss.

The dogs Sam and I like to help other dogs who live alone with their handlers and no other dogs as companions. These are dogs that need to learn their place in a pack. Dogs who chase cars cycles and other moving things are so sucked up to keeping their place in the pack and watching the other dogs, donkey, where their handler is etc, that they barely have time to worry about the traffic they are walking alongside on the adjacent road.

Chasing cars is a habit which is natural to Collies and Koda is no exception. Once a dog has chased two cars you have a habit. From here on we will be doing specific work around the road and Cars with Koda tied to the Donkey one on one. He should break the car habit fairly soon. It took two introductions and one on leash walk with his handler (Tina) walking alongside Sam to get him capable of being tied to the pack.

Even in the rain it is a lovely way to do a four k walk. We do it every morning. Sam is part of the cure for dogs who chase stock. If this is something you would like to do contact me for a time to start your training.

Saturday, October 10 2015

Good Dog Training Newsletter - October 2015



Rob and Sue's 'Girl' is pregnant The Sire is Eunice Brother's 'Ranger' Ranger is a son of Chelsea' Marriners 'Shift' She is due to birth around the 22rd November. Pups will be ready for homing about 20th January.

If you want a real working dog for Agility Obedience and Fly. These are the pups for you. There will only be one opportunity. Christine Longton has already booked a pup

All funds after expenses from the puppy sales have been gifted to Dog Sports Rotorua.


The heading for this article came from Katie Douthet (Meg and Tyson). She has given me a lovely vinyl sticker for my car which says the above, which was very timely because I already had the planning to write about team work for this month's newsletter.

About a month ago Pam Sharp said to me that she was sure that if I ran KC, KC would be just great. You will have noticed that if Deb is physically unable I will run Sophie and of course Chris Hutchings frequently has enough of Boston and so I run him to get him back on the straight and narrow. This is all very well on the odd occasion but none of these dogs are 'MY' dog. I am not in the business of training dogs to run with me. I am in the business of building new teams. All of you are brand new to the world of dog handling. Some of you want to go on and do a specific sport with your dog. Some of you want to sit CGC tests. Today I got asked to help prepare a dog to do Gun Dog Trialing and a dear older man by the name of Allan comes with his lovely little Corgi girl so that they can be better prepared in the Breed Show ring. Team building is what it takes. Your personality and handling traits, your dog and your success story for your Team.

To me I don't care if you consider yourself absolutely useless at giving your dog directions and teaching it what you want. That is the bit I can teach you to do. I try really hard not to wipe out anybody's personality by superimposing 'my way' on everyone. Alex Jones and Shadroc have their own way of doing things; all I do is make the corrections to the bigger picture for her like enforcing the contacts in agility. Ann and Gemma are unique in their approach to their Agility work and that is great because it tells me that the handler has or is building a working relationship with their dog.

What is team work between animal and human about? The first thing that you notice is that the human part of the team is the motivator. It is the human being that decides how a dog will spend its life for better or worse. The dog is the slave if you like. Dog has no choice about how it spends its life. The owner will decide. If the owner decides it can't be bothered exercising, feeding, giving shelter, training, playing, or making sure the dog has water, then that is the lot of the dog. If on the other hand the handler decides that they want a well trained dog that they can......... take running in the forest...............take to visit hospitals and rest homes............... do agility with.............................enjoy in the house and be proud to walk in the neighbourhood then dog is stuck with that as well.

The Master lets the dog know what it wants and the dog needs to obey. If dog doesn't obey then the Master is likely to be grumpy in one form or another and the dog has to put up with being wacked, kicked or growled at even if dog is completely unsure what it is about. He quickly learns that if he cringes and blinks when being growled at, most Masters will feel sorry and the issue will be over.

We all like to think that we will be able to get our dogs to do simple tricks and everyone sets out with their baby puppy to get a 'Sit' It happens quite quickly either by accident or design and the handler gets a kick out of this bit of behavior he can ask for from the dog and dog gives it.

Let's face it that is just the tip of the iceberg. We know that a New Zealander has taught dogs to drive cars, and throughout history dogs have done some incredible and amazing acts and behaviors, so we know that dog is intelligent enough to want to do things FOR us.

In order to be a team though it is just a bit different. We want our dog to do things WITH us. In order to be a team member our dog needs to be able to make decisions on his own and follow our instructions as well.

How do we get the dog into a pattern of work that gives it independent work ability along with the ability to listen to the handler even when the distraction level is huge? The dog needs to learn to work no matter what. Think Guide Dogs for the vision impaired. They must never be distracted from their work.

It starts with kindness. It is my view that the less you growl at a puppy the more you give good dog rewards the more attentive and able the puppy becomes. It is more than that of course, it is making sure that every time you are with the puppy it is quality training time. In between puppy doesn't just wander willy nilly chewing up the whole house. Puppy is in his crate with his things when you are unable to attend to him or while you leave him alone. I am a total believer in hand feeding. I am ever amazed by the number of people who allow the dog to just about take their fingers off when they hand feed it. I see it in class all the time. This is a non-mastered dog. This is a dog who thinks the food in your hand is his right. It isn't and until he can take it nicely he is off my list for food rewards. The other important thing is that the handler is every keen to slap a pup on a lead and then proceed to pull it around, jerk its neck and head off and totally mess on any idea of loose lead walking. Think 'J' lead. From your hand to puppy's collar is a 'J' shape at all times. Practice it, coerce the dog into giving you a loose lead, and after a while all your walking on lead will be loose lead work. Nothing else will do.

When your young dog is showing interest in things around him you show interest too. Things that come to mind. Autumn leaves blowing in the park. Go with your Dog and investigate this new thing. A new thing in a place that it wasn't yesterday. Young dog's hackles go up and he needs to go and see why it is there. Take him on his loose lead and let him sniff at it. The minute you jerk your dog away from something that is interesting him is the minute you have a dog going crazy because there is something dangerous happening he thinks and he doesn't know what to do about it. Get inside your young Dog's head; watch him all the time so that you can see what he can see. If you want put your head down level with him and look in the direction he is looking and see what he can see.

Everyone who knows my Fae the Fat Fairy knows that she is vertically challenged. We were walking by the golf course at Hamurana one morning and she started nutting off at about six golfers walking along towards the green. I am not sure that we have ever passed golfers in that place before; they were obviously off to an early start. Fae was enraged and hackled up. So I got down beside her and looked at her eye level and what do you think I could see. Disembodied heads bobbing along above the foliage. That was all that was visible to her. Even I thought it was a weird sight. So I picked her up and got her up to my height and she calmed down straight away. Whew after all those heads did have bodies.

In order to train your dog to work over distractions and trust you to get it right, you absolutely have to be aware of what your dog is responding to whether that is positive or negative. If you can get this sense of understanding with your dog then your dog will start to believe in you. They will start to refer to you and ask for eye contact before they make decisions.

This is the point we get to in Control and Obedience Class and Good Dog Training lessons. If you are struggling to get to that point, don't rush on thinking you can still teach you dog to do - Agility- or - Obedience - or Gun Dog work or whatever, because you probably can layer on the required behavior to achieve something in the field you want to work in, but you will not have the bomb proof, reliable, trusting working relationship that makes the Team one of a kind, unique and exciting.

What am I saying? Take your time Get the basics and the rest of your Team work will follow for the two of you no trouble at all. Every dog is different, every person who is handling is different and every team will be very special.

I am very proud of all of the teams we have working at Dog Sports. These are people of huge commitment in today's busy world. Keep going you may find that your achievements at Dog Sports helps with your achievements in the whacky world that human beings live in as well. If not then at least you have a hobby that moves you into a totally different view of life. Just you and your dog out for a day no matter what the weather, understanding and enjoying each other. It doesn't get any better than that.

tauranga.jpg Team Shadroc with Alex and Richard

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