Last week was spent predominantly on polishing up our AKC Obedience and Rally skills. Brody and I did a couple of clicker sessions to help clean up some position changes (specifically, heel to front), and to re-install that flip finish that we lost somehow.
Fortunately, it didn’t take Brody long to remember how to do it, though I’m still having to exaggerate my body language to help him a little. I’m hoping to polish that up before the trial, but if I don’t, I don’t think I’ll lose many points in Rally, and I don’t need the flip finish for Obedience, so I think we’ll be alright.
We’ve also been playing with some agility stuff, though I don’t know if he’ll have weave poles down well enough to make it worth entering at the trial. Part of me doesn’t actually care how much we DQ ourselves because I just want Brody to get to have some fun, but part of me knows that once I’m there, I’ll turn into a competitive monster, so…
Still on the fence on that one.
And on Sunday, we went over to club training.
They (whoever “they” is, ODOT, maybe?), mowed our tracking field, which meant that we tracked in some different fields. The fields we tracked in had short, turf-y grass, and mountains of human scent. It was a good challenge for the dogs.
Brody tracked surprisingly well, especially given that he tends to struggle under those particular conditions. He absolutely NAILED his articles, which had me practically jumping for joy. We did have one search-y corner, but otherwise, a solid track. I’ll take it.
Obedience went as it usually does, except when I confused the heck out of the IPO people by asking them to help me with his stand for exam.
Otherwise, Brody was good. Positions are rock solid. Retrieves are rock solid. Send out is getting much better. And, if nothing else, I know he’ll go and he’ll down.
So, I’m feeling pretty good for a fall trial schedule.
Protection was really good too, though we may or may not have broken my dog.
We did a run through of the IPO1 Protection routine with no warm-up or preamble. He ran the blinds, barked in the blind, heeled away, did the escape, outed on the first command everywhere, and was generally AMAZING.
Until the side transport.
I should maybe mention that it was a warm, humid day – weather conditions that Brody doesn’t tend to do well in.
I should also mention that he was very nearly the last dog to go in Protection, so he had been sitting in his crate listening to other dogs do the barky bitey thing for several hours.
So, the side transport.
It didn’t really go. At all. Which is kind of funny, because we had a side and back transport like two weeks ago.
Anyway. As soon as we started moving, he lunged and snagged the end of the sleeve. I outed him and he just started barking furiously, first at the helper, than at me. You could see he was just So. Angry. with us.
Like, “Damn you! I’ve outed and I’ve heeled and I just want to BITE THE THING! Did you see those stick hits he gave me earlier!? And I still outed! No more obedience! GIVE. ME. THE. THING.”
The helper and I just couldn’t help but laugh. Poor dog.
So, we did a little heeling around and past the helper, then gave him some grips and carries, and ended on that for our first session.
Brody has honestly come so far in his protection work, so fast, that I can’t be anything but proud of him. And we have several months before we need to have everything down perfect, so I was more than willing to give him that one. Especially since the rest of the routine was really pretty nice.
Before the second protection session, our helper asked me what I wanted to do. Part of me – the perfectionist part – wanted to do the routine again. Fortunately, the rest of me knew better.
I should mention here that our helper also trains real working police dogs for several departments around our state, so I had gotten to see some of the stuff they do that is really way more fun that IPO.
I asked our helper what he thought about putting Brody in a harness and doing some hides.
His eyes lit up.
Yes, let’s do it.
“Hides” are where the person wearing the sleeve (not always a helper), literally lays a scent trail and hides somewhere. Then the dog and handler follow the scent and the dog gets a bite once he finds the guy/girl that is hiding.
Brody hasn’t ever done anything like this, but I have had him search out his ball in back yard on numerous occasions, so I guessed that he would figure it out.
And I was right.
He was already super pumped just by virtue of wearing his agitation harness. He knows that means he gets to pull and bark and bite.
I got him to the edge of the field and told him “find”.
He looked at me like I’d lost my mind.
I told him to find again.
His ears came up (they do that, sometimes. Poor floppinois), his tail started to wag, and he set out hunting for scent.
He weaved back and forth at a trot, searching the ground for the scent. Once he was on it, he took off at a lope, dragging me along behind him.
It didn’t take him any time at all to find the helper – he followed his nose right to him. Once he got there, he was a little confused. There was the guy that he gets to bite. But he was just crouching in the trees. Bite?
I had to tell him, yes, bite.
He thought that was pretty cool.
We did it a second time, this time the helper crossed a creek and hid on the other side, which only confounded Brody for a second.
Once again, Brody had to be re-assured to go in for the bite though. I find it somewhat comforting that he was so confused about going in to bite a passive, non-threatening person.
He’ll never make much of a police or personal protection dog, but man did he have fun. And that’s all that really matters. Because it can’t always be about “training”. Sometimes, it’s just gotta be about having some fun.
*I apologize for the lack of pictures this week. Someone was taking photos though, so I’m hoping to be sent some later this week, at which time I’ll add them.