Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trust yourself, trust your dog, think before you speak.

I want to touch on something I experienced recently. A friend alerted me to their concern for Seppel because they felt in his training video he appeared to be subdued and not his perky self. This person has not seen Seppel in a long time, when she did last see him - he was crazy!

As my sister told me - when you put things on the internet you are basically asking for an opinion and people will give it to you. The above really worried me because I thought that if this person had noticed it, maybe others had but just weren't willing to say anything. If it had been anyone else saying what this person said it wouldn't have bothered me nearly as much. I think more than anything it threw me for a loop. I appreciated that she felt like she could bring it to my attention, and she did it in a private way. But it really shook me up and upset me because I thought I was doing something really wrong.

After this experience it really makes me take a step back and try to think before I speak, especially online. Sometimes the entirety of the situation is unclear at first glance. You might think something is a certain way - only to find out it isn't. I think this is a good reminder that sometimes things aren't as they appear and before you stress or jump to conclusions about something you should take time to find out the entire story.

This is also another lesson to me as well that I need to trust myself. I would never force my dogs to participate in a particular sport if they had no interest. Yes, I trim their nails and put them in the bath tub - those are  facts of life. However, I would never force my dog to do a particular dog sport. This is why I didn't pursue Schutzhund with Seth, he was not interested and it wasn't worth trying to put him through training for it because the drive was just not there. I'm not one of those people willing to shock the poop out of my dog with a shock collar to make them perform a certain task. I am not one of those people who only want perfect scores. I am the kind of competitor that just wants to pass. I mean, I'd prefer to pass a little above whatever the passing score is, but I'm not looking for a 100% score. For me what counts is how my dog does in the moment. Competing in Rally-O with Seth has been a blast. I appreciate that he still listens to me even though I know he can feel how tense and nervous I am. Sometimes he's a boob and he doesn't always listen well, but whenever we go out together we have a good time.

I know my dogs and I feel like I would know if they are enjoying themselves or not. If we are training, I know when to stop on a good note, I also know when 'it's not working' and it's time to quit for the day. People will form their own opinions about anything but only I am living the reality. I think it's very important to remember - especially on the internet, it is easy to tell someone how you would fix a situation. It is easy to say "I would do this." The problem is, these people are not living your life. They don't really know what it is like to be you. They don't see your dog everyday, they don't know what you go through.

I think it's very important to remember to trust yourself as a handler, trust your dog, and just a general golden rule - think hard before you let the words flow :)


  1. Believe it or not, I've got an extremely lukewarm reception from every single person I mentioned trying Schutzhund to. My veterinarian, dog trainer (she actually just doesn't think I have the commitment in me, and she might be right...I have to find out first), my parents, my relatives, some friends. People are scared to death of it. They don't understand a dog wanting to do bite work, much less enjoying it or excelling in it.

    My husband understood it, because he saw something that stuck with him. We were at a "Bark in the Park" type event a few years ago with Bindi benefitting local shelters. There was a police dog bite demonstration, and all of us and our dogs were sitting to watch the demo. All the dogs were really well behaved until the police dog went for the bite sleeve, then they ALL got excited at once and most of them tried to get away from their owners to get to the sleeve. It was just like all the dogs collectively said, "OMG that looks so fun! let me have a go!" and he was surprised at their reaction. They didn't have that reaction to any other thing that was going on, like the tracking or the recalls. Just that sleeve. So he understands that some dogs like/want to do that kind of work and it doesn't mean it will make them aggressive or anything else people think.

    If it weren't for Schutzhund sport we would not have police dogs. AFAIK, it's still used as a test in Germany today to prove a dog worthy of breeding police dogs and such. I read that over there, if a dog's sire/dam isn't Schutzhund titled at the very least, no one would bother considering them for police work. It's considered the hallmark test for a good working GSD.

    Most people don't know that, they assume that bitework is some pent up aggression towards humans that we are tapping into. Even my vet (who is a great guy, but you know...small town mentality here) said he'd heard nothing but negative things about that sport and that training a dog to bite isn't a good idea. When I said I had looked into it and would never do anything my dogs didn't want to do or weren't enjoying he backed off, though. Still surprised the crap out of me!

  2. The thing is, if you want to breed quality dogs - they need to do some type of sport. If Schutzhund isn't for you there are many other avenues, like Agility and Fly-Ball that Yoshi could be good at! You know yourself best, but I think if you want to better our breed I'm sure you understand the commitment it takes. You could also just finish him in conformation as well and get the necessary health testing and go that route also. I think there are so many options out there you are bound to find something you enjoy.

    One of the vets I work with always gives me crap for doing this with Seppel. He says it's an accident waiting to happen. I just ignore it and roll my eyes because he's completely uneducated on the sport and doesn't realize the amount of obedience that comes into play.