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 Obedience update
01.03.2011 21:42 | Mami

As a whole, Obi's attention span is much much better than before, but still not reliable. He still works on yummy food, raw chicken being his absolute favorite (how unfortunate for me!) For that, he'll do anything, and he'll maintain 99% focus for 15-20 min. When it all comes together, he really is pretty good, I couldn't wish for better.

But when there is no raw chicken, h is more temperamental. He has "moments of genius" as Adrian says, but he is not consistent. Saying that, he is better, much much better, and is improving. It just feels sometimes that I am treading water and not getting anywhere when he suddenly starts sniffing the air or ground, sneezing, scratching his collar, or just slows down and behaves indifferent. Now as I describe his behavior to you, I seriously wonder if it all is displacement behavior rather than lack of focus. Initially I thought it is partly displacement as he was getting used to the idea that he actually needs to do what I ask him to do, but then I started to think it is just him being him. He has always been ADHD, but like Adrian says: he has shown us that he can concentrate on tracking (because he really wants to do that), so he will be able to concentrate on obedience as well -if he has a reason to do so.

We have tried everything to engage him into activities. Food works the best, the play is temperamental. Sometimes he plays really well, but slows down as soon as any obedience is introduced as a part of the play (displacement? worry?) Never mind, one can try and try harder. I just need to keep it all positive and fun. He is really sensitive to my moods--he gets really deflated when he senses my disapproval, so I am also to blame.

Anyway, his fave toy at the present is a squeaky latex chicken toy on a thin rope attached to a riding whip. This gives the toy really fast and sudden movements, and really gets his prey drive going. It lasts for seconds, and we finish the game with him winning the toy. The problem is that I am too keen to introduce the control (obedience) into the game, and I really need to be careful to keep it fun and exciting so he gets to establish the pattern of relaxed fun, and learns to win the prey and enjoy his victory.

It may all sound like boom and gloom, but he does a good long stay, heel, changes of pace, corners, about turn to left, sit from move, down from move, excellent recall and good retrieve. The group is a bit wobbly, and this is a major concern. He should be now be on me, and ignore the group. This really frustrates me, and obviously, reflects badly back to him. I need to proof his stay under distraction now (add a male rottie doing high energy work next to him during his stay!), and get him jumping better for the retrieve over hurdle. We started send aways, and he does that well on short distance of 5 to 10 meters. So, all in all, not too bad at all.

But the willing, positive attitude should be consistent--for both of us!!!

It is really difficult not to let my own frustration show. When I get it right, he works like a dream, and when I get it wrong, he shouts down. 


 - Mami | Kommentoi



 Where has the time gone?? Tracking update.
01.03.2011 20:19 | Mami

Blimey, it is first of March already, and I haven't written anything into Obi's blog!!
Where to start?
The computer crashed and I lost all the training pictures and video clips I have been collecting to follow our progress. I was planning to  pop a selection into YouTube and share with you guys and use them the UK Giant Schnauzer Sports Dog Group site, and in  the Schnauzer club magazine  articles etc etc. Never mind, my clever OH managed to save a few, and the rest is gone. All the best Hebridean holiday pictures etc...everything between June 2010 and Jan 2011. Autch.

On the more positive note, Obi's training is progressing well. Dare I say we should be ready for a BH (on a good day) now?!
Adrian says "He should piss through a Sch1 track now!"  I take the comment as a great compliment and am very excited about prospects of doing a trial in the Autumn at our Club! Things are going so well that I day-dream about qualifying him in IWQ...a beautiful dream, he tracks well and is a star in obedience...Oh, I just wake up! Reality check---yes, he is still lying on his bed guarding his marrow bone from me, and casting suspicious looks at me under his eyebrows whilst protecting his bone under his chin. I'll ignore him for now and remove the bone later.

Anyway, training has been good. We have been able to attend nearly every session this year which is great. We also had a Giant training day in January with the Sports Dog Group which was great as usual, and we got a chance to improve our playing techniques and retrieval exercise under Adrian's supervision.

In summary: Tracking has been going from strength to strength until 3 weeks ago when he decided to start lifting his head up. He was air-scenting and zigzagging at the end of a longish and difficult track (very windy and a demanding ground structure with plenty of air channels.) He looked somewhat puzzled at the end of the track. The track had minimal amount of food as we had been working on endurance and articles. Reward only from me, not from the track as he was good and steady on his tracking behavior pattern, and needed to proof the article indicating. He still needs a little help from the lead to stop him going over the article and carry on tracking.

Adrian advised that with dogs like Obi I'll have to work on motivation and fun for the rest of his life to maintain what we have achieved, and to improve. He explained that when the dogs get confident on the track, they become a bit complacent (just like people) as they think they can do this easily. That is the time to introduce more difficult tracks to them, but it is imperative to remember to motivate them accurately. As an example, less or not food on the beginning, and then after half-way through, introduce a problem to them. Make sure they'll be able to solve the problem, and do the next leg with plenty of food to really motivate them and get their interest and  confidence up again. Through introducing the problems to them, and ensuring they will solve it, you'll increase the dog's confidence. This will show them that when they will meet a problem on the track, they CAN solve it, and it will be rewarding to solve it as after problem there will be more exciting things like food and praise. This way the dog will not "shut down" when they are encountered by an unexpected problem in the competitions--they know the track will include problems, and they'll be rewarded when the problem is solved. And they learn to trust themselves as they know they will be able to solve the problems!

So, back onto the scent pads on the soles of my wellies 2 weeks ago, easy track with plenty of food on, and he really enjoyed it, tail wagging, happily sniffing with a deep nose on a straight leg and to articles. Success. Last Sunday he did a good track again, and open box with plenty of food on the last leg, and repeated the performance today.

When adding the level of difficulty and problems one by one following a clear training plan, one can go back one step or so if problems are encountered. This allows the re-proofing the previous step again and brings the dog back to it's "comfort zone" before moving to next step (and increased level of difficulty) again. This maintains the dog's confidence and helps with motivation as well.
There is such a fine balance between achieving and not achieving. The clever little things we can do to tilt the training towards  success in stead of failure.Thank God for a brilliant trainer!


 - Mami | Kommentoi



 Video clips added
05.01.2011 20:48 | Mami

I have finally added some video clips of Obi.

Go and have a sneeky look on: obinsivut.suntuubi.com/


 - Mami | Kommentoi



 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011
24.12.2010 14:29 | Mami and Obi

Happy Xmas!

We are still waiting for the snow :-(  Most of the little dusting of snow we had has vanished, but at least it is frosty and not muddy!

We are about to go for a Christmas walk to Wicken, and Obi will return to a chicken wing lunch, and later he will have his Pedigree stocking after we had our Xmas dinner.

Tomorrow, as usual, I am lucky enough to get to go to work for Christmas Day :-)

Nevermind, I will have 26th and 27th off, and Obi can get tracking then.

BTW, his retireve is really impoving now, he is full of joy when he sees the dumbell, and the short retrieves at home are immacualte and fast! I only do retrieves at home after work when he is really excited, so he has the most positive mental association to the dumbell now. Mwahahahahahaa!


 - Mami and Obi | Kommentoi



 Progress in tracking -the hard work is paying off!
21.12.2010 19:50 | Proud Mami

Happy Winter Solstice! The back of the Winter has been broken and the days are going to get longer. Mind you, it is dark here at 5pm, starting to get darker soon after 4pm, so it is not too bad at all. Especially now as the moon is full, skies are clear, snow is covering the ground, and the weather is cold and crisp -5C. Perfect!

Obi has been doing really well with his tracking. We have been able to a track 3 times a week on frosty grass, and even have been doing tracking until 12th Dec during the training which has been really useful for Obi and me at this stage of learning. Last week  Adrian said that we now have all the components we need to start actual tracking training. Now it is down to the leg work and get the miles under our feet. That was really nice to hear, and not before time as last Sunday it was -10C and ground was frozen solid, so no tracking. Saying that, I am sure Obi would have been ok on winter wheat ;-)

He is now rather solid on the corners, ok with article indication (still needs to be physically stopped at the article, has a little sniff up in the air, but does lie down nice and straight now, and beautifully indicates the article by a "head down on the ground, nose-point."   He tracks any direction on a ploughed field, and copes well with conflicts and with different structures of ground. He can get a bit hectic, and may be slightly scatty if too speedy, but is able to calm down on command and carry on in a more composed manner. He is able to cope with a 250m track on a ploughed field with 6 corners and 5 articles. In summary, all is good!


( Päivitetty: 21.12.2010 21:39 )

 - Proud Mami | Kommentoi


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