NW2 – It’s going to take more than just “Trusting My Dog”

1 Apr
Second Place - Nw2 Container Search

Second Place – Nw2 Container Search

Ren and I competed in our first NW2 trial this weekend in Fultondale, AL. My main goal in entering was to even see what an NW2 was about since there is literally no information available about what I should expect.  My goal was accomplished, and I came away realizing that until more training, information, video’s and seminars are available to truly prepare both me and her, that I won’t be entering another trial anytime soon. The trial was held at a great site – a school.  The day and searches went like this:

 Interior – two average size classrooms right next to each other. Rooms had desks/tables in groups, rugs, chairs, normal stuff you would find in a classroom

  • First Room – 3 minutes – 2 hides. First hide was a threshold hide in a basket within a few feet of the door. Ren walked in the classroom and nailed that hide within a few seconds. I thought we were out to a great start… Ren quickly got back to searching, never stopped working, but got stuck under the tables and never could nail down source – we timed out. The hide was on the underside of an approx 36” inch high table.
  • Second Room – 3 minutes  – 1 hide. She searched the entire time, walked right by the table the hide was one, but never hit odor. The hide was on the underside of a taller small side table – something you might put a plant on (about 33” high) Ren was almost frantic in this room, trying so hard to find the odor, checking everything, standing on her hind legs, covering as much ground as she could but to no avail.

Container – 3 minutes – 1 hide. 20 Suitcases and bags in a high ceilinged atrium. Distracters were toys, white bread, and cheese and crackers

  • Ren walked directly to the correct bag and alerted, 13 seconds. We placed 2nd in this element. She got a “pronounced”.

Vehicle – 3 minutes, 2 hides, 3 vehicles (2 cars and one van)

  • First hide was in the front top inside the wheel well of the van. It took her awhile to narrow this down, but she found it. We timed out before getting to the second hide. She got a “pronounced” in this element, which I thought was unusual because she only found one hide. I am guessing the judge realized how hard she was trying.

Exterior – 3 minutes, 2 hides – brick courtyard/walkway/building/short brick wall.

Brocks Ridge School Trial Site

Brocks Ridge School Trial Site

• First hide was a threshold hide in a crack where the brick wall met the walkway. She went directly to it, hung there a bit, but didn’t alert and I am not sure why. She moved on and correctly found and alerted on the second hide that was under a wooden bench.Both judges gave me feedback after her searches. They said that Ren had a disadvantage because of her height vs the amount of area that needed to be covered, and that this game was all about time. I needed to guide her more to make sure she covered all the areas she could. In my mind I thought that could be something I could to, but that still didn’t help her in being able to locate the higher hides. One judge said that “He loved this dog because she had so much heart when searching, it’s just that her legs are about 12 inches too short”.

Two things bothered me about the day. First, I felt that I let Ren down by asking her to do things that she clearly wasn’t correctly trained to do. I put too much faith into “trusting my dog”. I needed to train my dog. I did reward her though even on the hides she didn’t find, she never stopped searching, never got frustrated – but still it bothered me. She trusts me too – to make sure she is prepared.

Secondly, I felt frustrated by the lack of information that was and is available to me in order to prepare her.  There were CNWI’s attending the trial for the same reason I was – to find out what NW2 was all about.

Courtyard - Exteriors Hides

Courtyard – Exteriors Hides

If they din’t have access to the information and knowledge about what to expect, how could I? Frustrated that we can’t ask training questions on the NACSW list and that we are directed to work with a CNWI. ( I had been working with two awesome CNWI’s, but this was also their first NW dogs, and didn’t know all the answers.) Frustrated that there aren’t more resources available to learn and prepare via seminars, workshop, etc. and simply access to experienced detection trainers. Frustrated that past trial video’s aren’t available for viewing – I would love to watch all the little dogs work to see how owners handled, how the dogs sourced, what the alerts looked like, etc.Most of all frustrated that I didn’t even know what I needed to fix, change, or do differently in order to even think about competing again.


Baby steps

25 Mar


The training hiatus went well. The pack stopped with their pushy demands and we had a calm weekend overall. In between the pouring rain in Atlanta even managed to get a couple of decent walks/hikes in. I did break down yesterday though and didn’t make it until today with no training. 🙂

Ren’s NW2 trial is on Friday so I figured I had better get some practice in. Her Nosework enthusiam is at an all time high. If there is Birch or Anise in the room she is going to do her BEST to find it. Ivy and I also worked for just a few minutes on her pivot in heel position (pictured above) and she seemed more into just playing with me without treats or toys after the short break. We will see how things go this week and if I note anymore changes. Regardless, I am glad that my self-imposed break is over as it made me appreciate that I have 3 such awesome dogs to train! (plus one retired couch potato)

The break from training also made me think about my plan for the next few months.  Finding an instructor and class that is perfect for me is SO difficult.  I was just starting to take online private lessons with Denise Fenzi and had thought I Doberman puppy in heel positionhad finally found someone that spoke the exact same dog training language as me.  No sooner had I gotten started though, then learned she quit doing online privates in order to spend more time with her new online training academy 😦

I am have taken a CGC class and a beginning obedience class at a well-known popular training school in Atlanta.  So far it has gone pretty well, as we have been working on basic stuff, most of what I have already taught Ivy and we just end up proofing in class.  But then the unavoidable happens – I disagree with they way instructor wants to teach something, have to explain why, and do things differently.  So far it hasn’t been a HUGE issue, but as things get more complicated and advanced I think it could be. Recent example; the instructor had wanted us to put the dogs in a stay, walk behind them, and sit in a chair for 3 minutes.  I had explained to the instructor that Ivy wasn’t ready for that yet and instead I worked on short durations of standing away from her and sitting in the chair facing her, offering rewards every 45 seconds or so if she was succesful.   (Ivy isn’t ready for me to go behind her yet in that situation) The teacher was great about it and let me do  my own thing. I didn’t cause too much of a distraction.

But the next level of the class is going to start working on heeling…

I am currently taking the online class “Precision Heeling” online in Denise’s school.  Denise’s next heeling class is “Heeling Games” starting in June. EVERYTHING is broken down baby step-by-baby step, with the dog learning a great foundation in specific skills. (It really is amazing how many “steps/skills” are required to heel when they are broken down on paper!).  Pictured above is Ivy learning how to Pivot. It could be weeks or more before I am going to be able to wean her off the disc and quide hand, never mind starting to add steps and forward movement. At obedience class last week we started a figure 8 loose leash walking  pattern in between cones.  I just did the best I could to get her around the cones with some attention –  and for her not to think she was just doing a sloppy version of “fuss”. Ivy isn’t ready to “move” while she is officially heeling because of the upright head position and focus I want, and don’t have yet even in a static position for more than a few seconds. As much as I am enjoying the class, the feedback,  working Ivy around other dogs, and the social interaction – it’s an quickly starting to realize it’s not fair to take her back to the next level.  I really need to get my heeling where I want it at home, using the method I want to use and feel comfortable with, then take her back later for proofing, tweaking and refinements.

From High Value to Humdrum – Living up to the Expectations of my Dogs.

20 Mar

I love spending time with my dogs.  I have fun when they have fun. I feel like I can’t get on with  my day until after they have all gotten some one-on-one attention, training and exercise.  I cook for them. I am always looking for more new and

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

more “exciting” rewards and treats for training. The latest toys from Clean Run and Sit Stay. Dog friendly cabins and beaches. Local dog friendly activities and outings.

I was out for dinner with my husband a few weeks ago at a restaurant that was full of kids. They were either on their iPhones playing video games, running around, yelling, jumping, and generally annoying me. I said to hubby “Man, those kids just need to be constantly entertained, I wouldn’t want to be those parents” and he replied “but we are.” And he was totally right.  I am a great example of trying to provide fulfillment and stimulation for dogs gone overboard.  What used to be enough to tire out the pack for days is now just a “ok” somewhat boring day for them.

First, my husband is home during the week, so the dogs are rarely left alone for more than a few hours at a time.  When he is home the dogs is kept busy playing doorman so they pack can choose inside or outside lounging at their leisure. A “typical” week usually includes: Agility, Obedience, Nosework Classes, Nosework practice, daily training sessions, Nina Ottosan games, Bully Sticks, Stuffed Kongs, Raw bones, walks, runs, hikes, runs on the unlocked ballfield, playing in our 1/3 acre yard, Doggy Daycare, spending the day at the office with me. Weekends may also include Schutzhund practice, Swimming lessons, Agility, Terrier and Nosework trials, trips to St Simons Island or Dog friendly cabins, and visits to dog friendly bakeries, shops and farmers markets in the neighborhood. Already planned for this summer is a weeklong “Dog” vacation in Vermont at Camp Gone to the Dogs (will be my 3rd time there driving from ATL). Their first Barkbox arrived yesterday.

Meals consist of part kibble and part anything else fresh and healthy including meats, veggies, salmon and supplements.

Although providing this for my dogs on an ongoing basis is fun and something I enjoy, I have also created a huge problem for myself.  Of course dogs need the proper nutrition, exercise, stimulation and play, but I am now  having a hard time satisfying my dogs with any amount of anything.

No longer is anything High Value – its all become “the norm” because it happens almost every day.

Sheep Chasing in Vermont

Sheep Chasing in Vermont

When I get home from work I make everyone have a calm greeting with me – no attention if you are going nuts. But then things go rapidily downhill from there.  They all watch to see what I am going to do from the moment I get home.  Ren stares and follows until I show a sign of what might be in store for the evening (like pulling out her Nosework kit).   My 14-year old “retired” Whippet Simon whines and paces hoping we are going to go for a car ride. If I leave my tailgate open, he will go jump in his crate in the back of me Element and just wait. Wyatt paces between me and the bully sticks drawer.  Ivy grabs her Nylabone and rests it on my foot to chew it -moving with me as I move around the house and replacing it on my foot.  They usually then get fed and calm down a bit.

If I head into the bathroom and pick up my brush – they know I (and probably one or more of them) is going somewhere.  They all join me in the bathroom and start to jockey for position close to me – demanding to be the one(s) who get to go out for the evening. Ren then usually starts her double-paw rapid digging on my leg just to make sure she has my attention.  Then we all pile in the Element and go do whatever class or outing is planned. If I am taking Wyatt and Ivy on a long walk, after that outing I return and take Simon and Ren on a short walk just so they don’t feel left out.

Last night at Ivy’s obedience class she got some roast beef as a reward, and was about excited for it as she would be a piece of kibble. So where do I go from here??

Doggie Detox is starting today.

No outings, activities, training, treats, presents, dog bakeries, or massages until Monday (The exercise and walks will continue though) Will be good to give the puppy a training break anyway. I need to hit the reset button. I need a trip to the Farmers Market & Dog Bakery to be a fun special event – not just part of the expected and demanded routine. I need Ivy to care that she is getting Roast Beef instead of kibble.

Should be an interesting experiment. Looking forward to see what if anything changes. The first few days are going to be very interesting.

The BarkBox is going to have to remain unopened for a few days…


Ivy and Maddie

12 Mar

Ivy’s BFF Maddie was at the agility trial Wyatt was entered in this weekend.  After practicing a few minutes of Obedience, they got to play!

Doberman and Greyhound Sitting

Ivy and Maddie practicing Sit/Stay. They are both now around 8 months old

Doberman and Greyhound Sitting

Let’s play!

Doberman and Greyhound playing

Perfectly matched.

Greyhound and Doberman puppies playing

Time flies – this is Ivy and Maddie at about 12 weeks old

K9 Nosework Tournament

11 Mar

Melanie of Pawsitively Purrfect Pet Concierge held a fantastic Nosework Tournament this weekend in Douglasville, Georgia. About 17 teams entered ($20 fee) and could select to work on either just Birch or Birch/Anise. Registration started at 3pm, and the Tournament started shortly after. Melanie was gracious enough to hold this event on her farm, which included 2 homes, and agility field, and a cow pasture. She enlisted friends, family and neighbors to help (many who hadNosework Tournament Scorecard never seen Nosework before) but everyone did a super job.

Everyone received a scorecard and map of the hide “stations” on the property. There were 9 hide locations, and a seperate birch and anise area and attendant at all locations (We did Birch/Anise). Each hide area included between 4-6 hides and you either had 1 or 2 minutes to search the area and find as many hides as possible.  The attendants would start the timer when your dog’s nose crossed the threshold, and told you YES or NO when you called alerts. The timers would automatically beep when the time was up. You then wrote the number of hides you found on your scorecard.  Each team was assigned a different station to start at so there wouldn’t be much waiting around as people rotated through each search area.

The search areas included:

– an agility field with easter eggs

– 2 vehicle search areas (tractor included)

–  Several outdoor areas – Ren did NOT like these areas (but still worked through it) as she had to walk through heavy Pinestraw

– 2 Interior searches

– Container search – all different kinds of containers, bags, etc

– Bonus Search – A Water search. Melanie had hid odor in a creek (marked by 2 blue flags) I took a look at the creek, but didn’t go near it – Ren HATES water and baths.
Some of the more water loving dogs had a blast with that hide and many of them found it.

Well after this I sure don’t have to be worried about Ren having enough endurance to work Multiple hides at the upcoming NW2 trial!  She found 22 hides in 17 minutes of searching time.  The easter eggs were the first search, which I got a few false alerts on (Apparently all the dogs had a tough time on this hide) She nailed all the interiors and container and also worked all the vehicles very well.  The exteriors weren’t as enthusiastic, but she was having a hard time in the deep pinestraw. The last hide in her rotation was an interior, which she found all 4 hides in within 2 minutes like a sniper 🙂  so I was THRILLED with that ending.

Ren came in 2nd, with the first place dog finding 24 hides. Melanie had “gift boxes” prepared for the top 3 placing teams in both Birch and Birch/Anise. What a GREAT practice just a few weeks away from our NW2 trial. My biggest takeaway is a reminder that I really need to be prepared for some false alerting on the first search – and to make sure I am patient enough to read it correctly.

Ren claiming her Prize

Ren claiming her Prize

Ivy the Doberman

22 Feb

I tried to let Ivy experience as many things as I could in months 6-8. Here are few shots of her adventures.

Had a swimming lesson.

Had a swimming lesson.

Took a nap

Took a nap

Ran in the dunes

Ran in the dunes

Got a massage

Got a massage

Hung out in a marsh

Hung out in a marsh

Stayed in a hotel

Stayed in a hotel

Dug in the sand

Dug in the sand

Collected Golf Balls

Collected Golf Balls

Spent the weekend at an Agility Trial

Spent the weekend at an Agility Trial

NW2 – Ready or not, here we come.

21 Feb

Ren and I travelled to Alabama in early January to go for our Anise ORT.  In several classes leading up to the ORT, she had started false alerting on the boxes. Thankfully she did it enough that I was able to learn the difference between “Just Kidding” (she would hit the box with herWe passed our Anise ORT! paw then move on) versus “OK I mean it” (hit the box with her paw and not leave) I was pretty “spoiled” with her indications, because up until recently she was 100% accurate and would only paw if she really meant it, so I would call ALERT right away. Since her “Just Kidding” started (which she did at our first Anise ORT and I called a false alert) I have had to learn to at least count to 3 in my head before calling it.

Well at her Anise ORT she went straight to a box, stood there with her paw on it, I counted to three in my head, called it (and it correct!) and her time was still just 6:53 seconds.  The judge was a K9 Officer who was also the judge for her Birch ORT, which she got in 6:72 seconds. The birch ORT was one of his first judging experiences, and was so floored that a little dog could do so well, I was happy for him to see her beat that time!So after passing that we entered the NACSW NW2 trial in Hoover, AL on Friday, March 29, 2013 and got in. Shortly thereafter though, Ren started not feeling so hot, and we really haven’t practiced much since. Long story short, she is now eating a homemade diet, is feeling better, and we have just over a month to prepare J

Endurance: Ren and I have almost always practiced 3+ hides at a time, so she has plenty of experience in this.

Food Distracter:  Have done this a few times and she hasn’t cared at all. I need to proof it a few more times with a higher value food item and see what happens.

Height:  Ren is about 8 inches tall at the withers.  A 4ft height could be challenging.  Our biggest problem could be time, because it takes her a while to run back and forth within the scent cone of a tall hide to narrow down source.

Inaccessible Hides:  She is pretty good at this – we haven’t done a ton, but she seems to understand the concept that she might not be able to get to everything – just alert when she can get as close as possible. We have done hides in drink machines, cupboards and closest with closed doors, garbage cans with lids on… feeling pretty good them.

Containers/Luggage: Again – this is something we have practiced from the beginning so should be OK, but will for sure get some more practice in before the trial.

No matter how much more practice we get in though, Ren is so is SO odor obedience, runs her fastest, tries her hardest,  barks to get started (she never barks) I am just going to have to “trust my dog”  and have fun!!!

Starting to feel better!

Starting to feel better!