Training Update – That Springtime Feeling

It’s finally starting to feel like Spring around here, and so we are finally starting to get some training things done!

I was sad to miss the AWMA Western Regional, but since all of our tracking access was buried under 4′ of snow for the three weeks leading up to it, we had to opt not to trial. I really didn’t want to risk another fail in tracking and it wouldn’t have been fair to Brody to ask him to trial when we hadn’t had time to prepare.

Finally, though, we have been able to track regularly and are on track for a late-April IGP1. Due to the rift between AWDF and USCA, it looks like we’re going to have to do some traveling to get our titles done, but we’re fortunate to be within reasonable distance of some club-dense areas, so I know I can’t complain too much. 


Brody is now running 350 – 550 pace tracks with little to no food except at articles. I do usually bait the last leg, as well as one or two pieces on every other leg to keep him interested, but I no longer feel like we’re reliant on the food to get to the end of the track. He still gets bored occasionally and has to be re-directed, but his overall understanding of the questions being asked is so much better than it was back in December when we tried for our IGP1 the first time. I’ll probably always be a nervous wreck when it comes to tracking at trials, because it doesn’t agree with my control-freak-ness at all, but I do feel much better now than I did a few months ago.

Rye is running 150 – 250 pace tracks with food every 5-20 paces and is a total superstar. Of course, I’m not the one that taught her to track, so I can’t really take credit for it. Unlike Brody, Rye really seems to enjoy tracking and doesn’t get easily bored or frustrated, which has been a refreshing change for me.


Brody’s obedience is pretty great, if I do say so myself. He’s rock solid almost everywhere. We do sometimes getting a couple of creeping steps in the stand-in-motion that we’re working to eliminate, and he likes to shift position slightly when I’m throwing the dumbbell, but generally, this is the one area that I’m completely confident in. So, it stands to reason, that this will be the phase we fail when we go trial next month.

Rye came to me with pretty much no obedience work. She’s at a great age for learning though – young enough to be super excited about everything, but old enough to have a decent attention span. She has a good understanding of positions and has started her sit/down in motion. She has also started heeling without the help of a lure hand, so I’m hopeful that we’re on track for a BH in the Fall.


Hey we got some pictures of this phase!

Brody’s very enthusiastic bark and hold

This past weekend really solidified how far Brody has come in his protection work. He is now able to remain obedient consistently while also bringing a lot of power.

Looking back over the past year or so, there were several moments when I wasn’t sure we would ever get Brody to the point that he could trial. He was such a challenge in every aspect of protection work that there were times I came to dread even working him.

But my Training Director and I, along with several others that helped along the way, persisted, and I think can now be pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished.

Side-transport – something we thought might never happen

There are some things that I wish I had done differently with Brody from the beginning, but I’m proud of the IGP dog he has become.

It’s funny, because I remember someone mentioning to me how hard of a dog Brody was and how not all dogs were like him. At the time, having nothing to compare Brody to, I thought he was a pretty easy dog, all things considered.

Enter Rye.

Rye working on targeting in the long bite

Rye is very different than Brody. She has better grips, doesn’t scream on the grip, and generally has much better nerves. She also has a considerably higher frustration threshold, the result of which is, she remains biddable even in high drive.

Things that took Brody a year to learn, I anticipate Rye learning in a matter of weeks or months.

It helps, too, that she has a better foundation in protection.

Brody may bring more power and “wow” factor in some ways, but Rye sure is more fun to work.

This last weekend we did some environmental work with her. She was supposed to bark at the door until a human opened it, then go in for the bite.

What she did, instead, was open the door herself and try to drag the helper out of the building.

She’s going to be something special. And I’m allowed to say that, even though I may be slightly biased.

So…what’s next?

Training with the intention of trialing for our IGP1 in April, our IGP2 in May, and our IGP3 at our club trial in the fall.

I’m attending a ring sport seminar next month (without dogs), and hoping to find some IPO seminars to attend at some point.

Thinking really hard about getting the last leg on Brody’s Rally Excellent and then probably not doing it because fuck AKC trials.

And…just generally enjoying training my dogs.

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