Monday, October 28, 2013

We came, we saw, we weren't impressed.

Saturday we met with that guy that I mentioned earlier for training. I'm not going to go into huge amounts of detail, just because I don't want to defame someone's character on this public platform, but, needless to say we probably won't be going back.

One really important thing I want to bring up, whether you are seeking a trainer, a vet, a farrier, a plumber - whatever it may be that you are seeking professional help, if that professional talks bad of other companies and actually name drops, you need to run away! One of my first farrier experiences was a farrier [horseshoer btw] who would talk trash about all of the other farriers and even veterinarians in the area. Not only is that kind of illegal, it just makes you look really bad.

I tried to show this trainer a video, to show what we do normally, and he barely looked at it, he also went so far as to judge Ryan. Ryan is a level three helper, according to Pet Village "A level 3 is the highest certification you can receive and you can work competitions on the National and International level." I am pretty sure I did not tell this guy that Jennifer is a Schutzhund judge, and I KNOW I didn't mention anything about Ryan's credibility as a helper. This is a giant red flag to me because I asked him to watch the dog and what we were doing, not critique it.

We never did any heeling, and working on transports was a large part of why I wanted to be there.

He did get Seppel to bark, and he did try to 'calm' him by petting him while he had a hold of the bite sleeve. It worked and Sepp's tail was wagging and he relaxed. I did like his decoy work, he's fast moving and exciting so my dog was very interested and was barking immediately.

Mostly my reason for making this post is that I think it's very important to try new things, but also to be aware that anyone can claim they are a trainer. I trained with this guy in 2010 when I first got introduced to the sport, which was actually by him. He may have been at it since 2009, but ultimately he has only been in this sport for a few years, and as far as I know only one dog is titled with a BH. While I do feel like he knows quite a bit, I do not feel he has the level of experience that Ryan and Jennifer have, and I felt that if I were to train with him we would be doing things completely different from what we do in Salem which I fear would completely confuse my dog.

What I had pictured for this experience was that I would pay for his time, and his decoy experience to work on transports and hold & bark with Seppel. Because I am paying him I expected him to want to see what we were already doing, and would want to do the things I would want to do. I mean, he could do it in his own way, but I thought we would be working on barking and transports.

The other thing is that Ryan was completely supportive of us seeing this guy. He was all for us having an opportunity to train with someone in-between sessions there because it was close by. If I weren't the willful bossy person I am, this experience could have led me to believe what we are doing in Salem is incorrect. It could lead me to question the things we are doing. If I were the 'follower' type, I could be heading in a completely different direction with my dog.

I likely won't be going back to this guy again. Aside from differences in training technique it is also more expensive, I might consider going for some tracking experience but would not go back for bite work.

In closing I think it is important to go with your gut instincts. Be firm, don't let people boss you around, especially if you are trying a new training technique that you are unsure of. Remember that almost anyone can claim to be a dog trainer and not necessarily have tons of experience or a long list of credentials. Be open minded when it is safe to be because it is always good to learn.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

18 Weeks/ 4.5mos Post FHO Surgery and IPO Training!

It's kind of crazy that we are over 4mos since Seppel's surgery. I had our vet[the surgeon] feel his leg this past Monday. While he didn't feel that his leg had grown much muscle wise, and it truly didn't when we measured, he did feel like he was definitely improving and on course as far as healing.

Not as exciting as I had hoped. I have seen the muscle changing in his leg, it's still skinny, but it is more toned than it was when he was barely using it.

In other news, we went to training today. I gave the bite sleeve back and told Ryan I didn't think it had made a huge difference because he doesn't get as amped here at home as he does in training. I was pleasantly surprised that I have my dog back! We started off with just heeling around Ryan and Ryan would walk around us/past us etc. I had to correct Seppel a few times, but nothing major. He was also giving me a lot of eye contact while we were heeling, which was pretty awesome.

Ryan was really happy with his progress, which also makes me really happy. We also worked on the hold & bark just a little bit, and Sepp barked both times! That is some serious progress when you consider all this dog could do before was make garbled growly noises. We primarily did a lot of heeling today, Sepp got some bites because he was being AWESOME, he was actually listening, which was amazing when you consider the last two weeks he's been giving me the big finger.

Saturday I am meeting with someone I have trained with before. He's located here in Hillsboro and if I can afford it, and if we jive training wise, I would like to meet with him in-between going to Salem so we can practice some more. We'll see how it goes, I don't have super high expectations, but if I don't go, I won't know!

And a picture that makes me smile:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

16-ish Weeks Post FHO and Heeling

Seppel is still doing remarkably well. It is very amazing to me to see that we went from this:

To this:

I am very pleased with his progress!!

I also wanted to share some videos of him heeling. This first video was from yesterday after he was very worked up. My trainers are lending me a bite sleeve to practice heeling because Ryan wants Seppel to be off-leash soon, and I need better control over him. When he is amped he looks abused and sad heeling:

This is practicing from today. We didn't rile him up hardly at all, and he was a lot more relaxed. I am extremely happy and hoping we can get more heeling like this:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

15 Weeks Post FHO Surgery

Here is a video of Seppel walking today:

Seppel is back to normal activities these days. I've started allowing him to chase the ball, play with the flirt pole, and go back to training. He has his moments where he will three-leg-it sometimes in the yard. His surgery leg is still not that strong but I feel like he is slowly making progress in terms of building that leg muscle up. He can still jump just as high as he could before and he can jump onto tables and other high surfaces. At this point I am happy with the decision that I made to do the surgery because I am confident in a year he will be back to 100%.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Being Good Enough

At the last Rally match I took Seth to I felt somewhat deflated. The woman who would be judging our class was on the sidelines and said some pretty nasty [although honest] things about my handling. I tried to do what she told me would 'help' the situation and it didn't. That's really beside the point because I keep forgetting that I haven't taken ANY classes with Seth.

There have been many times on this journey that I have felt like I don't know what I'm doing. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is going to tell you that you're doing something wrong. Sometimes it's hard to take when the people telling you this information know more or have been at it longer, because you start to second guess yourself, and your dog.

It is then that I remember that I got a URO2 title on Seth, by myself. All of the people we have competed with are people who have taken many obedience classes, several of them obviously train together because they use the same signals and commands. All of these people also have dogs that are finished in AKC obedience/rally and are now moving onto UKC - so unlike me, none of this is new.

I'm very proud of Seth and I'm proud of myself. My friend Lynna did help start us on the path to obedience and showed us a few of the motions that would be required, but everything else was kind of just winging it. I remember our first Rally trial I knew NOTHING. Luckily there was a nice gal there willing to share her rule book and help me figure out the signs!

I still get stuck sometimes, and I am still intimidated a lot. Even though it's "just rally" I still feel very good that we have come as far as we have, the commands we use in rally can be applied to regular obedience and when I get more experience under my belt we may find ourselves in an obedience ring at some point. I guess what I'm saying, and why I wrote this post is to tell anyone out there reading this who can't afford a trainer, or doesn't have one nearby - use the internet! Read articles, watch videos! The point isn't to win, or get the highest score, the point is to have fun working with your dog, and if you get a chance to go to a trial - show off what the two of you have learned and accomplished!!

On that note, we have been working diligently on an attention heel. I will have video of Seppel eventually but he isn't nearly as far along as Seth is. I have NEVER taught a dog to 'watch me' while heeling, this is our first time. I have managed to get a couple of short clips with my phone, he's making progress!! We started practicing after reading this article: Tarheel k9 Attention Heeling

With Seth I did start with the food in my mouth... he just 'gets it' so quickly that we actually only used that method in one session. Both dogs had a good idea of eye-contact from a sit... I haven't specifically named it, most people say 'focus' or 'watch me'. I may put a name to it eventually, but they know in sit to give eye contact, and Seth is learning to give eye contact now while heeling.