I decided to focus on obedience with Seth, we started out doing UKC Rally-O. He actually got his URO1 title this year.
When Seppel came I wasn't sure what I was going to do with him. With his mass amounts of energy I knew he needed to do something, but I wasn't sure what. I joined the Ultimate Pit Bull Forum in May. One of the admins is Diane Jessup. If you're a Pit Bull person you may have heard of her. Her website is Working Pit Bull she has titled many Pit Bulls in the sport of Schutzhund. Diane invited me to come up and check out her training group. They were just starting out, they were meeting about 2hrs away in Washington. There are lots of "stories" on the internet, I even had people close to me warn me about her. Diane is a no bullshit person. She tells it like it is and she doesn't sugarcoat things. She trains entirely with positive reinforcement only - which was new for me. I have always trained using food rewards, but I still use corrections. I decided to give the group a go and went several times. I felt that Diane was a Pit Bull person and would best be able to tell me what I should be doing with my dog. When I met up with them - they all had Pit Bulls and were all Pit Bull people. They were very welcoming and the experience was super educational. After a few times out there we even got the awesome opportunity to work with Shade Whitesel. Seppel got his first try at bitework with this group. If Diane had not invited me, I'm not sure what Seppel and I would be doing right now. Seppel had never done bitework in his whole life, but he showed a lot of promise and seemed to enjoy it from the beginning. Eventually the group's schedule changed and I was unable to make it to training, plus it was just so dang far away!
I started looking for Schutzhund clubs locally. I fell onto Vom Haus Reid German Shepherds, there was a link to Pet Village which is their boarding and training facility. I contacted Jennifer Reid and we came out for training in August. I was semi-leery because they are German Shepherd people. In my opinion, German Shepherds are not the same as bulldogs and my concern is that training a herding dog is not the same. As it turns out Jennifer likes Pit Bulls and we ended up having a lot in common. We train the same way and feel the same way about a lot of dog things. We got along right from the beginning. She's a schutzhund judge and has been working with dogs since she was 12 or 13. She totally had my dream life, and I actually trusted her/liked her so much that I asked about boarding Seppel for 2 weeks in October. I was going to be house sitting and Seth is good buddies with the dog I was watching. I didn't want to have to worry about Seppel eating their dog or their cats and I didn't trust my parents to watch Seppel while I was away. I left Seppel in training for 13 days and was really impressed with everything he had learned.
This is footage taken after being in training for 2 weeks:
Today we went to training and he did pretty well for the most part. We are still working out some major kinks in his bark and hold. When he was in training he barked no problem and was really good at it. Since I have been there he only growls, right now we keep a fence between him and the decoy, to help agitate him, but also so he can't get any cheap shots. He's horrible and won't bark. Today I tried telling him to 'speak'. It worked the first time, but the second time - what we caught on video, he would not bark!
This is from today:
A lot of people thought I was insane for doing Schutzhund with a Pit Bull. Everyone asks "Why would you teach a Pit Bull to bite a person?" It isn't about attacking people, it is like the ultimate game of tug. As we progress with training it all comes down to obedience. In the end, he will have better impulse control, and I will have better control over him just in general. Since 2010 - when I was first introduced I knew it was something I wanted to compete in, but knew my competition dog was long and far away. I feel so blessed that I have a dog who can do it, who wants to do it! For the most part I don't think Seppel would ever bite a human if they did not have a sleeve on. However, he has shown me that if someone is menacing/threatening he will bark - as far as I'm concerned I'm happy enough if he will just make noise and sound scary. In training, he will get excited when he sees our decoy, but he doesn't fully turn on until the decoy is in the suit, with the sleeve. We are training for competition, not for personal protection so all in all I think it will always be about the sleeve and the suit for him. As you can see in both videos he's having a serious blast. No amount of treadmill running makes him as tired as bitework does, it's a mental and physical game for him. Again, I feel so lucky to have him and to be able to have the opportunity to pursue my dream! I'm hoping by next summer we will be able to try for his 'B' it's an obedience test and the first trial you go to before competing for a Schutzhund title. Schutzhund is comprised of three things; tracking, obedience, and protection. I would be happy if we could get his first IPO1 title, but it's going to take a lot of work and time. We'll focus on the 'B' and go from there!
This picture belongs to Diane Jessup. This was Seppel's 1st bite!