A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘White German Shepherd’

Preparing a German Shepherd for Beginner’s Obedience: How Hard Should the Trainer Push?

With only a few weeks before the upcoming Obedience Trials, I’m struggling to control my anxiety.  Athena, who won the Novice trial last November, setting a record as being the first white GSD and the first clicker-trained dog to win an obedience competition in Jamaica, will be entering the Beginners Class.

There’s some improvement to her performance.  I’ve finally managed to straighten her fronts, which for the most part were crooked, except for the fluke moments when she did a straight front.  Such fluke moment happened at the last show, but at this level, I cannot rely on such moments.  I need to be sure that she will come in straight regardless of where she’s positioned in relation to me for the recall.

Her jumps, on the other hand, cause me some concern.  She successfully clears the high jump at 24 inches (approximately); however, that’s below the required 32 inches for the show.  The regulation height set by the Jamaica Kennel Club is too high for a beginner obedience dog.  The heights for The American Kennel Club are lower, especially for large breed dogs. 

As no one at The Jamaica Kennel Club seems in too much of a hurry to reconsider the height of the jumps, I have no option but to condition Athena to clear these heights.  I make haste with her slowly, however.  My philosophy with training pet dogs is to go as fast as the dog is willing and capable to go.  I will not risk injuring the dog by raising the bar, literally and figuratively, too high too fast.

Last week I tried raising the jump height a full inch.  Athena willingly took the jump, but her back legs consistently knocked the bar.  That’s an automatic disqualification at the Beginner’s level.  So, I lowered the height once more to the point where she could jump without knocking the bar, and gradually raised it a 1/4 inch at a time until I got her back to the original 24 inches.

It’s hard, laborious work, and requires patience on my part.  Now, patience is a virtue that I possess in limited quantities.  I want a CDX on this dog, NOW.  But I keep asking myself when I’m tempted to push this dog to her limits, “Is it really worth sacrificing this dog’s enthusiasm for training and performing, and sacrificing her trust in me as her handler, for an obedience title?”


Taking an Intermediate Dog Back to Beginners

How many times have you trained in your living room, and your dog performed beautifully, but failed to obey when you took him out in public? 

There are several reasons for that.  Perhaps the dog is over-aroused, distracted, doesn’t find the cue convenient to execute at that precise moment (you are probably trying to get him to down near poop, or something equally disgusting), or he just may not know the cue properly.

Yesterday Tuvok and Gretchen went to SAR training then to agility.  Tuvok is my white German Shepherd puppy, whom I’m hoping will become one of Jamaica’s first SAR dogs.  He performed his sits and downs admirably.  Today when I worked him in the yard, which I rarely do, he just would not down. 

I took him inside and lured the down once more for about three times before fading the lure.  I am not a big fan of luring, but there are times when it is appropriate.  Tuvok knows his downs in the house, but for some reason didn’t want to do them in my yard.  

Once he got the downs fluently without the lure in the house, I took him outside once more.  He would not down.  I stayed outside, but lured the down once more for about three times, then I faded the lure and asked for the down with the hand signal.  He performed this time.

Sometimes when a dog doesn’t do a behavior on cue in a strange location, you have to go back to baby steps.  Although the back yard isn’t strange to Tuvok, he finds lying on dirt and grass strange because he’s accustomed to lying on tiles and wood floors in doors.  He is an indoor dog.  As he will be a working dog, it is vital that he complies with cues immediately when they are given to him.

We Made History Today!!!

The Jamaica Kennel Club Dog show took place during the weekend, and I showed four dogs during the course of two days.  My pomeranian bitch, White Mist’s Kissy won Best in Class and Best in Show.  I’m extremely proud of her, to say the least.

The dog whom I’m particularly proud of, however, is my white German Shepherd bitch, El Zima’s Celestial Harmony, aka Athena.  Yes, the same Athena who stopped working a few weeks back because she had an ear infection.  She won the Novice Obedience class today, gaining “High in Trial” with 99 out of 100 points.  She lost the single point for briefly lagging during the heel exercise.

Athena is the first white German Shepherd to ever win an obedience competition in Jamaica, and the first clicker-trained dog to ever win in Jamaica. 

I am particularly proud of Athena because she has won a victory for her breed and for clicker training.  There are still folks here who feel that the white shepherds are inferior, which of course goes back to what happend to the white shepherds during the 1930s.  Also, I am the only dog trainer here who uses operant-based clicker training, and many of the old-school folks scuff at this purely positive method of training.  Athena has never worn a choke collar, or even a pinch collar.  She wore an ordinary nylon buckle flat collar in the ring.

Whenever I can, I promote positive dog training and positive pedagogical methods for teaching humans, but I have found that the best way to change thought is through actions, and that is why dog training and trialing are so important to me.  Athena proved today that white German Shepherds are indeed smart, and clicker training is an effective way to train an animal. 

Click here for pictures from the dog show.

I am a very proud doggy mom today…AND my two-legged pupils had victories of their own this week.  Click here to read about their triumphs.

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