Friday, September 19, 2008

Baxter Central Public School Doggie Demo

I was lucky to be invited to join my agility training group, Tamsu Learning Centre, to participate in an elementary school Doggie Demo. This is one of the benefits of being part of such an active and dynamic training group. I was really looking forward to it! I had never been part of such an event before, and was excited to "show off" my well trained and well behaved dogs.

The children in the school were grades 1 to 8, so a wide range of ages. I brought Blaze, my little agility star, and I brought Arlo. Although Arlo is technically my schutzhund dog, and not an official Tamsu student, Arlo is what I describe as my "all purpose dog".... I can take him anywhere and ask him to do anything, and he's all for it! And, he is a super social German shepherd dog, loves saying "hello" to all people, and he is such a great ambassador for his breed.

The demo started out with a talk to the students about dog safety, and how to properly approach a strange dog. Our head agility instructor, Sarah Mairs-Heaslip, was doing the talk, and Arlo and Cassie's male Rottweiler, Ely, were the dogs being used for the demo... There was a little bit of laughter just before we started... Sarah thought is was kind of funny that we were using the schutzhund trained German Shepherd and a Rottweiler as our dog safety dogs.

Next we did a heeling demo... well, what can schutzhund dogs do extremely well???? Yes, that's right, heeling! Arlo strutted his stuff, both on leash and off leash for the crowd along with some of the other dogs. He did great. Then we did some "barrel racing"... Yep, barrel racing. What fun. Neither of my dogs had ever done this before, so I was going to sit this one out, but I decided to try to get Arlo to run around the barrels just a few moments before the demo started. He already knew a command to run around things, namely "revier", the command we use to get the dogs to run around the blinds on the schutzhund field. I decided to give it a go. Well, it only took Arlo one try around the barrel to figure out what I wanted, and with the promise of a reward afterwards, he was all for it! So, when our turn came to run the barrels, I went up there, and used my "revier" command, and he ran the barrels as if he had done it a hundred times... Great! What fun... who knew that the "revier" command would come in so handy someday!

Next we did some doggy tricks for the kids. This is always a crowd favourite. Unfortunately, I did sit this one out... I haven't bothered over the years to teach my dogs any crowd pleasing tricks... I was too focused on teaching them the behaviours needed for their respective sport careers. The crowd loved the tricks the dogs performed. I was a bit sad I could not participate.

Then came our agility demo, what fun we had. Blaze came out for this one, this is where he shines. I am always amazed at how he can focus and have fun in almost any environment I put him in.

We also did a flyball demo, and I was the box loader for one of the teams. It was my first time box loading, ever! I must say, those dogs are so fast and I was a bit slow more than once.

At the end of the demo, which seemed to go way too fast, the kids wanted to say hello to the dogs. I brought Arlo over, and he was swarmed by kids. I put him in a "platz", and he was being petting, hugged, and kissed by many of the children. He loves being social. And, it gives me a great feeling inside knowing that my schutzhund titled German shepherd dog can also be a stable, social, well behaved canine in the community. One of the little girls said she had never petted a dog before, and was quite happy that she was able to do so. Part of this is training for sure, but a large part of it is simply Arlo's innate nature and his super stable temperament. I'm very proud of him.

I was not able to get great photos, mainly because I don't have that great of a camera (we're working on that!). Here are some of the better photos that I was able to get... Arlo at the end.

Sarah's border collie, Jiggy, during the agility demo.

Cassie's Rottweiler, Ely.

Blaze in the weave poles.

Blaze coming out of the tunnel turning for the dog walk.

Blaze on the teeter.

Cassie and Rottweiler Emma on the teeter.

Sarah and her Golden retriever Cutter barrel racing.

Arlo barrel racing.

Arlo barrel racing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eros, TEC (Temperament Evaluation Certified)

Eros and I did his TEC today at the German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada National Specialty Show in Kitchener. The TEC is a temperament test, given under the German Shepherd Dog Club of Canada, specifically for German shepherd dogs. This temperament test has only recently been developed. It is similar to the other temperament test, the TT, but not exactly the same.

There are several stations that you progress through with your dog. The first test is the judge verifying the identity of the dog, either by tatoo or microchip. Then you move on to greet a friendly stranger who ignores your dog and engages you in a conversation. Next is a friendly stranger who ignores the handler and greets and touches your dog. Then you walk towards a group of people who mull around and ignore your dog. After this you move on to a person who is out of sight and as you walk along, who then appears with a metal bucket that has stones in it. The person shakes the bucket to create a noise and then places it on the ground. The dog should show curiosity and investigate the bucket. The next station again has someone out of sight who, as you walk by, fires a gun once then there is a slight pause, then two more gunshots in rapid succession. Then you approach a person seated in a chair holding an automatic umbrella. As you come close, the umbrella is opened. Again, the dog should show curiousity to the umbrella. The final station in the first part of the test is the "bad guy" scene. A person is out of sight and as you approach, appears wearing a rain poncho and holding a riding crop. This person must act threatening to you, yelling and hitting the ground with the riding crop. Dogs must either stand their ground or bark at the "bad guy". Any fear or attempt to flee is an automatic fail.

The next part of the test involves the dog being exposed to vehicles driving by, a jogger, and of course the other dogs and handlers participating in the test. Then all the dogs are tethered to a fence and left alone while all the handlers move away either into a large group or out of sight. The judge will walk by all of the dogs while tethered. The dogs must then enter a rowdy group of people, similiar to what you may see in a busy downtown street. The dog's reaction and behaviour is evaluated at each part of the test. Dogs that show unwarrented agresssion or fear will fail. Dogs that startle at the gunshots, bucket, and umbrella sections must recover within a reasonable amount of time and settle again. Dogs that are too fearful to investigate the bucket or the umbrella also may not pass.

Eros did excellent at all sections, and I was very proud of him. He was so undisturbed at the gunshot station, he attempted to pick up the pylon that was the marker for that station and play with it. It was one of those "really cute dog" moments for me. I was also very happy he did not attempt to jump up on anyone, something I have been working on lately. He is so friendly, he loves to jump up to say hello to people. He has learned to sit nicely and calmly while greeting people.

I love doing things with my dogs, especially things that demonstrate my dogs' good temperament and behaviour. I think this is important for the breed and the sport of schutzhund. A schutzhund dog can be a balanced, stable canine companion, capable of interacting with the public in a variety of situations.

Here we are, right after the test....