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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, 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.

Saturday, February 18 2017

Good Dog Training Newsletter - February 2017


I have a very interesting quote to start this…

'When the dog knows what his job is he can do it' Chris Hutchings.

Chris has said this often over the years and it is completely correct and chrystalises everything there is to know about dog training. A lot of people come to Dog Sports with their first dog, a rescue dog, a new puppy, a new agility prospect, or just about any other type of dog there is. Most people don't think there is very much to dog training. Every other dog they or their friends or they had when they were a child, was the perfect iconic happy friendly intelligent mutt that ever was. This probably isn't true as most dogs have a vice or two no matter what age they are, but they are very good at doing a con job on their owner so that the OWNER BECOMES COMPLIANT WITH THE DOGS' NEEDS.

I like to start out with the lowest common denominator. Short Tie ups. My expectation is that the dog will settle, lie down, become calm, and is ready to move on to the next learning thing. My expectation is that the dog will short tie up anywhere. Not just at home or at the Training Ground, but to the tow bar of my car when I go to the beach, or to a fencepost when I am on someone else's property. My short tie up sends this message. 'Please be calm, you are safe, I will be back for you.' So grows trust from the dog for you. My next behavior expectation is that the dog will lie quietly when surrounded by other dogs and allow me to stand astride him to keep him in my space. I am telling him 'All is well, the other dogs are fine, I am in control, and you are safe'. Dog is happy with this so we move on.

The point at which the dog is not happy, is jumping around is barking is panting and uncomfortable. Or has started lashing out at other dogs or people and is slow to respond to recall or correction, then it is obviously stressed. This is the point at which the dog has ceased to learn. Anything the owner/handler does forward of this point will be negative training for the dog. The dog will not achieve and remember anything after this with a positive view. This is why dogs who are failing to move forward at Agility are in the state they are in. They will be stuck in the same slow uncomfortable place for ever. They will pant and salivate throughout their work, causing them to move their heads around a lot. Circle or run away on the course, knock a lot of rails and find it difficult to concentrate, often seeing the judge as an obstacle to be reckoned with, people on the outside of the ring upsetting him. Dog has no focus or concentration, BECAUSE THE FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION WAS LEARNED BACK AT THE START AND DOG DIDN'T GET THAT TRAINING OR HANDLER DIDN'T THINK IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THEIR DOG.

One of the upsides of Obedience (the sport of) is that it focuses the dog on the handler, while that focus is on the handler the dog is just fine and can achieve amazing stuff. However, the dog only equates that focus with being in the ring, not with everyday behavior and a lot of dogs who are just great in the ring have no manners or obedient behavior in their toolbox once outside the ring. Again carrying behavior forward as a day to day condition of their lives is not something that a lot of people think is important.

Most people have a top learning capacity that they impose upon themselves. Sad though for dog trainers to impose that top learning capability upon their dogs. Intellectual threshold is something to be fought against. We all need to go on learning and moving our brains and bodies in a better way. I have never met a dog that stopped learning but I have met a lot of people who resign themselves to ‘being dumb'.

People also have the desire to move forward class by class because it means that they are achieving in their own eyes. This isn't necessarily so. YOU NEVER WANT TO BE IN A CLASS WHERE YOUR DOG IS THE WORST BEHAVED AND LEAST ACHIEVING. YOU WANT TO BE IN A CLASS WHERE YOU AND DOG ARE THE BEST BEHAVED AND ACHIEVING THE MOST.

With this in mind I often send people backwards. Some don't take it well. I sent Debbie and Sophie back to pre-Agility at the start of last year, because Sophie was so distracted by other dogs when she was working. A tribute to her early childhood education in Doggy Day Care, which she hated with a passion. The best thing about pre-Agility is that you have all sorts of nutty new dogs there who have no manners and Sophie got used to new dogs with no manners and didn't feel the need to go on the defensive or get mean.

This has enabled Sophie to move forward, because her fear of other dogs is the very thing that stops her achieving. My little Border Terrier X Fae is absolutely magic in 10a.m. Saturday class. She exudes a bored air concentrates on the exercises and copes off lead. Because she is so switched on to bunnies, she can't move forward without making runaway mistakes so she stays where she is happy and contented and is becoming very good at making other dogs feel comfortable too. That is her job, along with controlling rats and rabbits on our small block. She has jobs. They are the one's she copes with best and excels at. That is where I want my dogs.

My old dog Chan was still learning right up to the day we put him to sleep. The month before with only one functioning eye, he won jumpers C and got his first AD. I had never tried for AD before with him. I was so proud of that dog. Chip is at an interesting point. He is stuck in a couple of places and moving forward in others. His dog on dog distraction can be there at times so he is still in Behavior class and there is vast improvement there. Becki-boo is 12 and still learning and improving. Her sprints are still getting faster. She is still able to get around a Champs Agility Course within course time and is still gaining ADs.

Pansy is in behavior class and going ahead in 11a.m. Saturday class. She thrives in Mini Club. Her dog on dog distraction is better but still got a way to go. She needs to be able to play better under distracted circumstances. But we are getting there. She has gone from a runaway non compliant dog that attacked both people and other dogs with menace five months ago, to having a job doing agility and learning compliance. She is certainly a different dog, but not different enough, the sky is the limit for that little dog and I want to keep her moving forward. I know when she is out of her depth. She gets slow. She is not naturally slow. It is an inability to do the job fast because there are other distractions to concentrate on. Focus must improve. Maybe a bit more Obedience work. The important thing is not to back away from the things dogs are naughty or bad at. Don't practice avoidance, because that vice is the very thing that will ruin your future work with your dog. Train it out.


Benni the poodle. Five months old. Learning at a huge pace. His compliance is still coming. Obedience is pretty good. His tricks and pre agility are in a happy place. His ball play and tug are excellent. His dog on dog is comfortable. He has never been hurt or put in a place where he feels at risk. He lives in a pack with five other dogs who all adore him. His body conformation and fitness is correct for his age. His diet is very good, mostly natural with kibble as a mid day top up to make sure he is getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs to grow strong. Of course his breakfast is fresh goat’s milk so his calcium levels should be fantastic. Won't it be interesting to see him go forward and see at what point he reaches his 'I dunno this, can't do this job'. So far nothing is fazing him.

Jessie James the Labradoodle/Spoodle. How old is JJ now 3 and a half? Jumpers A and still going forward. Novice Intermediate and going forward. Focus in the ring 90%. Focus on obedience behavior outside the ring 55%. Christine Longton, knows no limits. She pushes forward to keep learning herself and working her dog to the level she wants. Very positive stuff. Best combination I have ever trained Storm the Working Dog. Sixteen months now. Learning at an absolute pace. Focus on handler 100%. Focus on games 100%. Focus on work 100%. Concentration levels still coming. He is a very young dog. His concentration is in exactly the place it ought to be for a dog of his type and pace. Again Christine Longton knows no limits. She does tricks, she does training she does discipline. Again the sky is the limit for this combination. I am so going to enjoy watching the achievements here.

I watch all my trainees for ability and capability. When it is obvious that the handler considers that they have reached the place they want to be, I do not push them to train any more. Because there are real limits to time and opportunity for a lot of people. All they want to do is get out and do the shows. That is good too. They are happy to have 'own goals' and 'social time' with their mates and achieving is not a biggie. After all it costs $1,000 minimum to have me train a dog to Elementary level Agility. So it isn't cheap. Although some people greatly overcommit themselves by going to Champs before they are ready, that doesn't bother me too much as learning the system and getting to run lots of courses is good education for the handlers. Once people have done a few Agility shows and been bitten by the Agilty bug (it is addictive) then they will get another dog and my hope is that they have learned enough to not limit their own and their dog's opportunity to be better. Most people do improve. Some don't. They are the wonderful people at the bottom of the pyramid paying money into a sport for other achievers and enjoying it.

Anyone who would like to test where their dog's sticking point of learning is, what the thing is that is keeping them slow or unfocused, is welcome to get in touch with me and we will go through the entire gamut of behavior and find the thing that is ruining their opportunity. Most people know what that is, sometimes secretly, but they don't confront it and they don't train to solve it, leaving themselves and their dogs stuck in a strange place of knowing how to do everything and achieving nothing

.....speaking of Summer Sprints Season.

This Tuesday night program is proving very popular.

Top Big Dog with Handicap (A Team) is Storm who is now on 6 obstacles and still doing consistently under 12 seconds (current average is 11.19). Other dogs in A team are Sophie (Deb) Minnie and Sophie (Nicole). These are our best and fastest large dogs in the Club

Top Small Dog with Handicap (A Team minis) is Jessie James who has graduated through to Flygility Senior level Sprints with 6 obstacles and has only three more levels to achieve before he falls off the end of the competition. Other dogs in A team Minis are KC and Jade both belonging to Pam and Dave Sharp. These are relatively untried dogs they are doing very well and are learning how to cope with hurdles in their sprints run.

B Team on the flat is currently lead by Chip (Raewyn) who refuses to do .50 of a second faster and graduate. But the amazing new dog Awhi is now in second place and will have no trouble overhauling Chip and graduating to the A team very soon. Bree Kimmy and Star make up the rest of the B Team large dogs

B Team Minis are lead by Boo and Pansy with Gracie Chips (Nicola) and Fae trailing behind but at each competition all the minis are cutting their times.

We are running a 12 meter flat Puppy sprint( the 12 meters needs to be accomplished in under 6 seconds) a further meter is then added to the run .

Leading the field at present is Benni followed by Linda and Dash. They are just learning to trust and run away the twelve meters and come back. Super puppy training.

The Summer Sprints Competition is very infectious. Addictive has also been applied to it. Apart from the flat and handicapped sprints we also run a sendaway recall Novelty which is currently working on Advanced with weaves. Everyone gets to do this regardless of their level. Each week we work through the levels we have done a Beginner level, an Intermediate level, last week's senior level saw Sophie (Deb) beat Storm for the first time. The work was just a bit much for Storm very understandably at his age. I thought I had it sown up with Chip who loves complicated courses, and then Sophie beat him by 2 seconds. Great Sport.

All the dogs improve in speed and fitness every week. About three weeks ago Deb's Sophie got a bit slow and didn't look comfortable. Sure enough she needed a treatment on her back from the Chiropractor. After a brief rest she is now back up to speed. Sprints make it possible to pinpoint falls in fitness and speed. They increase muscle tone and the dogs learn independent running over 100 meters.

Just superb. On top of that we have raised about $300 towards the winter rent.....It’s a winning combination. Bring on next Tuesday. Oh and as we pay prize money to the winners no guesses for who takes home the most money each week. But we are working on it. Having high quality dogs in the competition makes us all work harder to achieve better times.

There is still 6 weeks to go in this competition so anyone who wants to start now should come and have a sprints lesson FREE and see if you can get yourself in contention for those lovely trophies at the end of the year.

Club Captains Report

Here we are well into another year. Just over a month to go to the end of the Financial Year for the Club. Year ends 31st March. By the time the books are prepared and the trophies are engraved it is usually late April or early May for the AGM.

Last year we trialed a new system of Membership. We created an Executive Membership which cost $180. It includes keys to the containers so that members can go train at the grounds whenever they wish. The idea for the $180 was to put aside the rent money in advance so in the event of bad weather through the winter we still had the money available. Jenny Williams (Club Treasurer) will be able to tell us at this year's AGM, how that system worked.

The Executive Membership is available to people who are current members. That is it cannot be a new subscription. Most current members have been members for the last six months at least. For those people who want to train three or four nights a week plus have extra coaching or just want to practice on their own, this is a huge saving in $2 coins. If like me you are training at the club four times a week then I would spend around $300. $180 is definitely a big saving. So think about it and pick up a current membership form. There won't be any changes to subscriptions this year. Feel free to ask any of the Club Committee about this option. We would be happy to help you with any queries.

Dave Sharp looks after our gear at the Club. But hey team we need to be a bit more careful about the way we handle our gear. Especially the hurdles. We know the new plastic cups on the hurdles are delicate but with care they can last a lot longer than they currently do and the cups are expensive. Dave doesn't mind helping out but it is becoming a full time job replacing cups on hurdles. Dave has made and donated a set of boxes for training. Raewyn requested them. We used them this week at Mini Club, they are just amazing. I think they will be cropping up quite a bit in classes from now on. Thank you Dave.IMG_4292.JPG

The placings are very close for on the flat Sprints for the year. The Trophy will be decided in the next two Club competitions and the next month of weekly sprints. The dogs in contention are Skyla, Jewel, Chip, Bella and Bree. Maybe they might like to give winning it a go and attend some of the sprints meets and make sure they are defending their place at the Club Competition!

There is currently a series running on TV 1 Wednesday night called “Vet Tales”. Last year a clip was filmed on Megan Hill and her dog “Jack”. A group of us provided a back drop with our dogs, this should be screening over the next couple of months, unfortunately we don’t know which episode!

See you out there.

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