I’m a little late with the recap, but I was so exhausted from the weekend that I did very little in the way of being productive yesterday. I took Brody to group obedience – that was it for productive.
So. Last week.
The big focus for last week was on tracking. I’m slowly figuring out the best way to ask Brody to learn to track by way of trial and error. Mostly error.
This time of year, in the area that we live, the tracking fields aren’t fantastic. Dried scrub, dirt, mud, and lots of cow shit. It can be a little frustrating for both dogs and handlers alike, but hey, you gotta make due with what you’ve got.
We’re very fortunate to have access to a couple of different tracking locations, so we try not to bitch too much.
So we mostly tracked, last week. And while I’m learning to handle my tracking line and I’m learning what works for my dog, I’ve been harboring some thoughts that I might have permanently screwed up my dog’s tracking somewhere along the way…
The other big push was in getting one of my training partners’ dogs ready to test for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC). This has been a big goal for him and the first title that he’s tried for with his dog.
I, on the other hand, had not had any intention of trying for Brody’s CGC. AKC show-type environments absolutely melt Brody’s brain and he isn’t the most mannered animal to begin with, so I had every intention of sitting the CGC out. I was planning to go to the evaluation to cheer on my training partner, and that was that.
However, the morning of the CGC, for one reason or another, I decided to take Brody along with me. I had other errands to run in town after the CGC, and figured it would be nicer for Brody to ride along than to leave him at home all day. In the back of my mind, I was considering the CGC, but not super seriously because I’ve met my dog once or twice and I know what a spaz he is in that kind of environment.
I walked into the building where the evaluation was being held and was pretty much immediately handed a clip board with the entry form by the evaluator.
Quick side note, so you can better picture what’s about to follow – the evaluator is a well known AKC Obedience trainer in our area. I know her and she knows my dog. She knows he’s nuts. She is also exactly what you picture when you think of AKC Obedience trainer – older, brusque, dead honest, takes no BS – I actually kind of adore her and want to be her when I grow up.
I mentioned something about not planning on entering Brody, was handed the clipboard anyway and ordered to fill the entry form out.
I’m far more obedient than my dog.
My training partner’s dog was first up, and she did beautifully, just like we all knew she would. She’s a total sweetheart of a GSD (also a monster in protection, but the AKC people don’t need to know that), with a relatively laid-back demeanor – she could have passed the CGC backwards with her eyes closed. She earned her first title with room to spare.
Unfortunately, my dog was soon to follow.
I should have known what was about to happen, starting with turning in my entry form to the secretary and being met with “Oh. You have a malinois…”
Had it been up to me, I would have taken Brody straight back to the car after the scene he caused simply walking into the building. I don’t even have the words to describe the utter chaos that was being only marginally contained by a two-inch flat collar that, thank god, had a handle.
Brody is neither aggressive or fearful, but he is…enthusiastic.
I basically begged for permission to bail and take him back to the car, but the evaluator was having none of it.
I won’t give you a play-by-play of the exam, but if you picture a tornado that has briefly taken canine-form and been asked to “sit politely for petting”, you’ll have a pretty good idea.
The evaluator passed us, based mostly, I think, on a desire to not have to see my dog again. Brody was quite thrilled with himself as I dragged him out of the building.
My training group told me when I got back that the evaluator had explained away the chaos to the other onlookers by saying simply, “They do Schutzhund.”
So that was Saturday.
Sunday, my training partner, his wife, and I, got up bright and early to head over the mountains to visit with a neighboring club. After a somewhat harrowing drive through the mountain pass, we arrived at the tracking location to find absolutely beautiful dew-laden green grass with a foggy backdrop.
Made for some pretty pictures, and our dogs tracked beautifully in the pristine conditions.
Some of my doubts about Brody’s tracking were finally laid to rest as he tracked like a pro – nose to the ground, nailed the corners, never missed a footstep. A big relief to me as I took him back to the car.
After that, we headed to their obedience/protection field where we spent the rest of the day.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you’ll know what our big focus in protection has been on control. We do a lot of this work at home, but we don’t have a helper in our club, so seeing a helper is a bit of a novelty for Brody. Anytime we travel, I have about 50% of the control that I have at home – something we’re obviously going to have to fix before we can trial.
So, we worked on control around the helper. Brody struggled. A lot. But he also improved quite a bit. The helper explained that we needed to create some clear environmental queues for Brody – creating a clear picture for him of what the routine looks like so he can understand the behavioral criteria we are expecting.
It worked well and by the end of our second session I was feeling pretty great about Brody’s progress.
We have plans to go back next weekend, assuming the mountains stay passable, so we’ll get to really build on the progress we’ve made.
It was a long weekend that left us humans exhausted. Brody, not so much – he was raring to go once again yesterday morning. I thank goodness every day for my DogPacer treadmill.