Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Finding His Voice

We just got back from training today and it was AWESOME!!!!

They were super busy apparently so it was just Ryan and I. Ryan is our decoy. Anyway we did some transports and bites. Apparently Seppel is to the point now that I shouldn't have to 'out' him. He should do it when Ryan freezes. He still needs a reminder now and again, but it was awesome to see him do his thing! After some bites, outs, and transports Ryan was going to have us use the door to get him to bark again. I reminded him about how like a month ago we sent him around the blind and without me there he barked.

[Side note: we had an audience with a guy who has two GSDs and a Doberman, two with BH's working on titles.]

I sent Sepp around the first blind for a bite. Then Ryan ran across the field and hid behind the blind that has a fence that we usually use for the bark & hold. I sent Sepp and sure enough, he barked!!!!!!

We did it like 4 times and he barked each time. The last time I came up next to him and praised him while he barked. It was AWESOME!!!!

It was also cool meeting a dude who is into this sport. He was pretty cute too ;) The first thing he said when we got off of the field was "Wow, he's fast!!!!" That seems to be the general opinion of Sepp, he's a fast one.

Next week Ryan said to bring Seth out just to play around - we're also going to go tracking!!!! I'm so excited!!!!

I love, love, love Seppel. Even if he can be a bit "much" at times... I am so excited to have this opportunity and so glad that he has come into my life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Took Sepp to training today and it was AWESOME - even though he didn't want to bark :p

He got back into it pretty well but would not bark. The trainer tried to get him to bark for her but it wasn't happening. I suggested our decoy hide behind a door and he actually got frustrated enough to offer a couple of barks. We ended on a good note with the barking. It was weird to get back into it - I needed a lot of support but Sepp knew what he was doing!

I'm so excited to get back at at.

I talked with the trainer and our decoy and both felt strongly I could get Sepp titled. I'm being put on the waiting list for their club [it's about a year out]. But that will at least pave the way for us getting the B. They didn't see a problem with his age [he will be 5 this year!!] She also wants us to take a spring obedience class. I need to talk to my coworkers about the possibility of going. It all depends on the $$ also but I really want to take a class with other dogs so we can work with distractions. I'm just excited that we can continue and this hopefully isn't just a pipe dream.

I'm not going to worry about it too much because we are having a blast and Seppel absolutely enjoys every minute of working, especially the bitework! It's nice to have a goal and GREAT to have so much support. I'm so glad that we're back at training, and I think Sepp is too!!

On a side note with a bit of funny story. I was early when I got to Salem so I stopped at Subway for some lunch. I decided to eat my sandwich in the car. I seem to remember there have been a few situations where I have had to put my food next to Sepp on the seat and was very clear he needed to leave it alone. Those instances have been few and far between - so much so I can't even tell you what I was eating when I last told him to leave it. Well, I offered him the heel of the sandwich, he didn't take it so I set it next to him. He literally looked AWAY from it and was like "Oh god, I'm not touching it." and I'm like "Dude, eat it!" and then he was like "Ohhhhhh!" and he ate it. It just absolutely cracked me up. I love this dorky dog.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Clicker Training

My sister brought me a clicker yesterday at work! I tried it out on Seppel as he was the only one I brought to work yesterday, we worked on downs and eye contact, I was really happy with the results in that he gave me a TON of eye contact and was more consistent on his downs. What I really enjoy about the clicker is how clearly it helps to mark the wanted behavior, it's a lot easier than saying "Yes!' or "Good dog!" the click just seems to be a much clearer way to say "Yes, continue doing what you're doing!"

Today after I got off of work I went out to the barn to give the clicker a go with Cairo. I am by no means an expert in this kind of training. I know I could have spent more time introducing the "click=reward" but I really wanted to see if the clicker would work in marking the behavior. Let's face it, I'm impatient! As of today I was able to get her to understand she gets the reward when she touches the hat. It's hard to see in the video but every time she touched the hat with her nose, and she HAD to touch it, she got a click and a treat. In just a couple of sessions she seemed to be catching on to what I wanted her to do. I'm excited to go out tomorrow and see if she remembers/understands it still.

I'm really excited to try this method of training, especially with my horse. In the past I have tried to teach her to shake - the same way I have taught my dogs. However saying "Yes" or even "Good" seemed to have no affect, she didn't seem to understand WHY I was feeding her. I fed her every time I pulled her foot up, but even after several sessions she never offered to lift her foot herself. She just really didn't understand what I wanted or why she was getting the reward, just that she was getting the food. I'm really excited to see what all I can teach her, especially if I won't be riding for a while.

So anywho - here's the video!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Training, Walking, and the Clicker

Long time no post. Sepp and I haven't been to training in a while because our decoy was injured and then I had a massive horse vet bill to pay off so we've had a ridiculously long break!

All of that changes this upcoming Wednesday - we're schedule for training at 3:30pm. I can't wait! I am going to talk to the trainer more about our goals. I worry that without being in a club we will never be able to trial, I need to work on more tracking [we don't do it enough]. He's going to be 5yrs old this year and I'm wondering what the reality is that I will be able to title him. Like, maybe we should just try personal protection? We'll see what she says.

In other news we've been walking more! We've gone several times on my lunch break and this morning I actually got up to go to the gym but felt unmotivated so I took all of the dogs for a walk instead. It was nice to get out and I know they really enjoyed it. It was also nice because the distractions were limited and so was the traffic. I can control all three dogs, but it's nice to be out when it's quiet and not much is going on. I'm lucky I live in a decent neighborhood but even if I didn't, I don't think anyone would harass me with the three dogs! I'm feeling it in my triceps tonight, I generally don't let the dogs pull too hard, but I do let them walk ahead and they pull a little bit. Sometimes they shift around so I would have two in one hand, particularly Seth and Sepp so it was a good arm workout!


I'm going to get a clicker. My horse is having to have some time off from riding and if I can't ride I'm going to teach her to fetch, or do an equally awesome trick. I've been considering getting a clicker for a while just to make marking behaviors easier. I'm anxious to try it with the dogs as well - I think it would be really beneficial for Seppel. It isn't that he is stupid or slow, I have taught him tricks and he learned quickly, but his mindset is definitely different than Seth's. It's hard to judge because Seth is further along in obedience, but it's been harder for me to teach things to Seppel. I just feel like he doesn't always catch on as well, he's easily distracted and I also think he just gets bored. He's just a different dog. I think it's time to branch out and try something new!

Friday, February 1, 2013

On being breedist...

Sometimes I feel like I am harder on Seppel for behaviors that he displays because he is a Pit Bull.

Looking back at some of the things Seppel has done, I often wonder if Seth and LiLo displayed the same behavior - would I feel the same way? Would it be as bad? Would it make me concerned?

I think it's stupid to not be cautious when you own any breed of dog, but I think it is even more idiotic to not be cautious when you own a 60lb powerful dog that could take down livestock. I'm not saying that being hyper sensitive about things is the way to go - but I feel in most cases it is better to be safe than sorry.

Recently I went for a walk with my dad and brought Seppel along. A neighbor was getting the mail and my dad engaged him in conversation. My dad jokingly acted like he was telling Seppel to attack. They started talking and the guy eyed Sepp cautiously and I stupidly told him Seppel was friendly. When he started talking to him Seppel growled and lunged at the guy. I immediately told him to down and leave it - which he did, and the guy backed off. As much as I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, like he was reading my vibes that this guy freaks me out [because he does], part of me just wants to think he was being an asshole.

Since that night he's been totally fine. He's gone up to several strangers, and one of my coworkers husbands no problem. He's very excited to see them and wants to be loved on. Complete strangers and he's totally cool.

The thing I've started to notice for myself is I am definitely more critical of the things Seppel does. If LiLo had growled and lunged at the guy it would not have bothered me nearly as much - especially since that is totally the kind of dog LiLo is.

I think in owning a Pit Bull I am realizing whenever we go out we are representing our whole breed. If Sepp steps out of line, it isn't just me who looks bad, it's all of the Pit Bulls and all of their owners getting judged - because of how my dog is acting.

Now that I have had some time to cool off and think about the situation I just think the situation was overall just bad. It was getting late, my dad egged Seppel on, I went on the defensive worrying that he was going to go for this guy, this guy was worried about him. I think it was several things that set Seppel up to fail.

In the future I will be more careful with people interactions. I may ask that if the person wants to pet Seppel that they let us approach them. If I have food on me I may ask that they give him a treat. If I have an uneasy feeling or Seppel is looking to be too intense I will just tell them he's either in training or that he's not friendly. Truly people don't have to pet my dog and there's no need to set him up for a bad situation.

I have been keeping up with my new year's resolution and I have been walking Seppel more. Sometimes he's really uptight when we're walking. His tail isn't tucked but it's low, his ears are back, he's concentrating. A few times on walks now I have encouraged him to play tug with the leash. The game seems to break the walk up and he seems to relax and get more confident. I know that he didn't go very many places in his former home. He's definitely more comfortable indoors than outdoors. Pet stores did take some getting used to for him, and he's cautious about the automatic doors, but he's gotten much better as I have taken him more often to buy things. He has always been friendly to the people in the pet stores and usually gets a treat when we go. Same thing with getting coffee or gas - he's practically hanging out the window waiting for a treat.

I know when I first got Seppel I was very critical in terms of his behavior. Hurting the cat, trying to chase my horse? But in retrospect I set him up for failure both times, and in the situation with my horse what dog could resist chasing a running horse? I can't say Seth or LiLo would not have done the same. LiLo has chased my horse before and it didn't freak me out nearly as much as it did when Seppel did it. All I could picture was him grabbing and holding onto her neck and piercing her jugular, or holding on and shaking and no one would get there in time to help me.

The reality is he's a powerful dog. I think I will always be cautious and leery of new or certain behaviors he shows. I think I will always be somewhat critical of him if he steps out of line. However, when I take a moment to cool off I'll definitely ask myself if what he's doing is reasonable dog behavior, or the behavior of a "bad Pit Bull". I'm thinking more often than not, he's just being a dog.

Yes, he's a Pit Bull. But before he's a Pit Bull, he's dog.