This past week I actually trained my dog!
We tracked quite a bit.
The thing with tracking for Brody is, he finds it pretty uninteresting after awhile. Like, it’s fun for a bit, but then he’s over it and ready to be on to other things.
I’ve been making him track some BIG tracks to try to raise his boredom threshold a bit.
All of our tracks this past week were 500+ paces, with lots of corners, lots of articles, and not a lot of food. My hope is that, come trial day, by the time he gets bored of tracking, we’ll already be done.
None of our tracks were 100% perfect this week, but I’d say they were like 90% perfect, so I’ll absolutely take it.
In Obedience I’ve been proofing the shit out of my send-out. This exercise has always been a training challenge for me. But, I know come trial day that Brody will absolutely go out, and he’ll probably down. I’m hoping to make that an “will absolutely down and stay down”, but I’ll take what I can get.
In Protection I did the thing I tell people not to do and I changed the game a bit.
Okay, not really protection – protection adjacent?
I’m talking about blinds.
When I first taught Brody to run blinds (using agility jump standards in my backyard), I taught him to figure-8 them by always going to the top corner first.
Unfortunately, Brody has a strong preference for turning to the left, so when the field got bigger and he got more tired, he would switch to running all of the blinds to the left (alternating top and bottom corners).
I let this slide for a long time because I had bigger protection issues. But now that we’re getting close to being trial-ready, I’m realizing that I can’t afford the point loss on the blinds.
So we went back to the beginning on blinds this week.
In other protection news, we have a side-transport! Like 30 whole paces of a side-transport!
And we have a call-out!
And we mostly have everything! Almost!
Also, my silent guard disappeared…
Y’all, I don’t even know anymore.
But I’m confident that, barring another illness or anything else stupid from happening, we WILL be prepared to trial in November!
Club training this week got me thinking, though, about how different things could have been with Brody if I had been a little more…pro-active, earlier in his training.
There is a young dog in our club – only about 14 months or so – that is a lot like Brody. All of the same power and all of the same potential to be VERY difficult in protection.
This young dog is also handled by a very dedicated novice handler.
The similarities in our dogs and backgrounds is pretty striking, really.
This young dog is receiving the protection (and secondary obedience) foundation that I missed with Brody, and so is on the path to be a much better version of Brody. All of the same strengths, and with the weak-spots addressed young enough so as to avoid all of the training challenges that I’ve had to face.
Obviously, I can’t go back in time a fix the mistakes that I made early on. And I do think that we’re on a good path with Brody and that, in the long run, we’re going to be able to fix the problems that were created from the lack of foundation training in protection.
But it does make me think about how much easier (and kinder, honestly), this all could have been.
I have nobody to blame but myself.
So, fellow Newbies, don’t make the same mistakes I did! Seek out the best club (for you, remember this is totally subjective) you possibly can, and keep in mind how important it is to train with someone that has experience with whatever type of dog you have.
IPO may be IPO, but a German Shepherd is not a Malinois is not a Rottweiler.
And if you find yourself feeling like one phase or another is being neglected, especially early on, seek out the information or help that you need to keep your and your dog’s educations moving forward.
Trust me, you don’t want to find yourself in a similar hole that I wound up in. It’s a long process digging your way back out.