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Canine Trauma




Schutzhund Trial Handling Tips

Ann Marie Chaffin Copyright 1995
*Revised January 2000*
Click here for more info about Ann Marie

Why are some people good handlers? This question is asked all the time. Some people are more coordinated than others, some do many tasks at once, some people can see mistakes or problems and correct them at any given notice or through training, and some people retain more knowledge. All of these things and more make any one person a good handler. Here are some hints on successful showing.

When showing always smile at the judge and be extremely interested in everything he/she has to say. Many judges have handler's meetings where competitors can ask questions. Use this opportunity to clear up any concerns you might have. Pay attention to his instructions, and pay a lot of attention to his critiques of other dogs. The B is a good place to start because sometimes the judge goes into novice-like detail to the handlers at this level letting you know what is correct.

At a trial you have to go with the flow. Don't get overly upset about mistakes, it will just interrupt your other performances. Don't dwell on perceived inequities of scoring or conditions. What you lose one place you will probably get back in another, maybe at another trial a year later. Every competitor knows that you have good days and bad days.

A good competitor knows the rules when he is trialing. Rules change from year to year. In the last few years they have changed the build up for the voraus, as of now it is 10 steps. It is important to know what costs more points, and if you have to lose points, where to lose them. Example: 1. If your dog misses some blinds do not be too worried, it is only a 5 point exercise. If a couple of extra commands makes him finish that is great, but don't stress your dog. It could cost you more in the long run. 2. If your dog goes after the dumbbell but doesn't find it give another "bring" command but do not move from your spot. 3. If your dog is coming around the jump maybe a second "hup" command will make the dog jump so you lose less points.

SCHUTZHUND 1 (1996)

TRACKING:

When you lay your track you will need two articles and a flag and you will go to the judge for direction. Take a deep breath and think about what you're doing before you proceed. Try to line up on things or remember the particulars of your track. You and your dog are a team. Most of the time the judge will instruct you when to turn and when to drop an article. Hints to laying a track: Make sure your articles are full of your scent, use different color articles. If the ground is dark use lighter articles, don't use tiny articles, etc.

Articles may not by the rules be a significant change in color from the terrain. If the judge asks you to make a turn, raise your hand to let him know you heard him and make a turn. If it is a horrible place to turn, walk a few paces more with your hand up and turn at a better spot. The same with an article, don't place it in a patch of stickers if the judge signals. Just raise your hand to indicate you heard, walk a few paces more and drop the article. When you place the article pause a second or two to create a hot spot. The rules state you should move while dropping articles. Corners should be five paces; slightly rounded. You should know at this point what your dog needs at corners. These hints go for tracklayers in the SchH 2 and 3, also. New rules show a sharper corner.

Before you begin your actual tracking, the judge will probably instruct you to walk with your dog on six-foot leash through the group for an impartiality test. This test can be before you report in or as a separate exercise at any time before you compete. Before tracking report to the judge and say, "My name is ..., my dog's name is..., we are reporting for SchH 1 tracking and my dog will indicate the articles on the track." It is important to say indicate and not down on the articles. Just in case your dog decides to just pause or sit or stand.

Sometime during the impartiality test the judge will ask to see your dog's tattoo. When showing the judge your dog's ear tattoo, which you usually have to do even if they don't have a tattoo, you make sure you hold the dog properly. The tattoos are most often in the right ear, so you put the dog on your right side (opposite side) in a 'heel' or ‘fuss’ like position. You take the muzzle in your left hand covering the eyes calmly and lay his head on your body in front of you. You then use your right hand to present the ear tattoo. If you expose the ear in this way you are at the least risk for problems. Practice at home a lot.

After this impartiality test or your reporting in, you will be asked to proceed to your track. Now is the time to start your tracking routine. The rules now state you need to stop your dog 3 meters away from scent pad before the beginning of the track if you need to straighten your line or calm your dog before the start of the track.

At the end of the track go up to judge and report, "My name is ..., my dog's name is ..., we have completed SchH 1 tracking, here are my articles."

New rules state you have to follow your dog even if he's off the track. If you are on the track and the dog is off the track stay on it unless directed by judge. If the dog has blown a corner and you are approaching it don't follow the dog, stay on the corner. The judge will say follow your dog if you hold the dog back. The only restarts (when you pull your dog back to the collar and start him tracking again) are allowed at the scent pad. So on the track always hold the leash at the end and let the dog look for a lost track. If the dog gets tangled you may platz your dog and untangle him ONLY at the judge's discretion. When a dog leaves the scent pad or article let the line go out all the way before following the dog.

It helps when you establish a routine for your dog. Example: Let your dog out to relieve himself , put the long line on, let him drink water, go out to judge for temperament test, down your dog more than 3 meters from the flag, let the line all the way out and check for knots, ask if he wants to track, release him and at the flag say "such". You can create your own routine that works well, but always let them have water or splash it on their nose and make sure the line has no knots. Take a moment to relax yourself and look at the track and get your bearings.

OBEDIENCE:

The obedience for the SchH 1 is the same as the B, but continues into the dumbbell and send out.

Order:

Report to the judge with the other competitor. As in tracking, state your name, dog's name and what you are reporting to do such as, "beginning Schutzhund 1 obedience". He will then tell you to either go to the basic position or to the long down.

Long Down:

Go to down area and face the dog to the direction you will be waiting. Take the leash off and put it totally away either around your waist or in a pocket or around the shoulder with clip on the opposite side of dog. Put hands to the sides and look straight ahead. Say "platz", walk off on right leg and stand with back to dog. Do not look at dog. Wait for judge's command to go back to the dog. Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking straight ahead say "sitz". Put leash on dog and fuss to the end of the field and wait until other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise:

Basic routine:

  • Online heeling
  • Offline heeling
  • Walking sit
  • Walking down with recall
  • Flat retrieve
  • Retrieve over brush jump
  • Voraus

Starting at basic position (where you start every exercise) on lead, 50 paces out normal, about turn, 15 paces normal, 15 paces fast, 15 paces slow, 15 paces normal, right turn 15 paces, right turn 15 paces, about turn, 15 paces and stop, 15 paces left turn, then go into the group. (You are penalized for more or less than 10 to 15 paces on changes of pace.)

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In the group show right turn and left turn and stop on lead. The stop should be slightly near a group person. Proceed out of the group and about turn and stop. Take lead off and put totally away before walking again into the group. Take the leash off and put it totally away either around your waist or in a pocket or around the shoulder with clip on the opposite side of dog. (Make sure you take a few steps before you stop after the about turn or your dog will probably be out of place.) Go into the group and show a right turn, left turn, and a stop. The stop should be slightly near a group person.

If you are going to praise your dog the time to praise is at the end of the on leash routine at the sit before you start off lead. Not enough for your dog to get out of control but enough to encourage your dog. Never lose control of your dog. You know your own dog, maybe you want to praise a lot or a little or not at all. Whatever suits your individual dog. Example of group unless directed otherwise by judge:

Go to basic position and do the same routine off line. (Do not go into walking sit, common mistake.) After the left turn you may stop your dog and praise at the sit.

Go to basic position, 10 paces walking, sit, go 30 paces and wait for judge's signal.

Go to basic position, 10 paces walking, down, go 30 paces and wait for judge to signal recall. Recall and then finish.

Note: Basic position is now changed, you only get one shot at a straight sit, you can not restart for a straight sit. You may pet your dog at this position then wait to the count of 3 to proceed or reposition after the praise.

Get SchH 1 dumbbell for flat retrieve. You may use "bring" only once as the command to retrieve. Know your rules here! Sometimes a double "bring" command at this point, if necessary, is better than the dog not returning or not getting the dumbbell at all.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for the brush jump. "Hup" is the first command. While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Go to the basic position for voraus. (Use the time it takes other competitor to get their dog off long down to prepare your dog for voraus.) New rules state 10 paces at least for a build up. You may lift your right hand and say "voraus" and put the hand down immediately or you may lift your hand and keep it up until a few seconds after the down. Never leave your hand up and drop it while saying down; it could be considered a double command.

(At basic position wait for the judge to watch you to start. If he is not watching he may ask you to start again. Wait for the judge's command for most things except the finish and out for dumbbell, but wait 3 seconds for each.)

After both competitors have finished report out to the judge, your name, dog’s name, and report what you have just completed, "we have just completed Schutzhund 1 obedience". Go to the area of judge's critiques, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

PROTECTION:

Report to the judge on leash unless otherwise instructed. "My name is..., my dog’s name is..., we are starting our Schutzhund 1 protection."

Proceed to the center of the blinds. Face the first blind and wait for the judge's signal unless he said to proceed on your own. Take the leash off and put it totally away either around your waist or in a pocket or around the shoulder with clip on the opposite side of dog, point to blind and say "voran". Say "heir" when the dog is at the blind. Point to the live blind and say "voran".

On judge's signal, go and get your dog. When approaching the blind to get the dog, do it calmly. Grab the dog by the collar, leash your dog and gently pull him away only enough for the agitator to get by. (At training, always praise your dog a few times before gently holding collar. If dogs are poorly retrieved at training it will show at the trial. Do not get in the habit of grabbing and pulling the dog back a few feet.) Put yourself and the dog back in the blind to wait for the judge's signal to go to the live blind. (Many judges turn their back on you here. Maybe you need to give a few jerks of control to your dog's collar. Do not let your dog make noise. On the other hand some judges watch covertly to make sure you do not make any corrections.) After the judge has directed the helper to a blind for attack on handler proceed at the judge's signal out of the blind to a basic position. Take the leash off and put around the waist or in the pocket or on the shoulder with clip on opposite side of the dog.

Fuss off leash to blind.

During the attack you may use words of encouragement like "good boy".

After attack on handler, out your dog and after receiving direction from the judge go up beside the dog to basic position and put the leash on and fuss to hiding place (blind) for courage test.

The judge calls the handler out of the hiding place to the center of the field. The handler takes off the leash and holds the dog by the collar. The dog should sit calmly. The helper crosses the field at a walk and at direction of the judge the handler yells "Stop-stand still". The helper upon hearing this runs threateningly at dog. The judge will tell you to send your dog. You may move while the dog is running, but you must stop when the dog makes contact with helper. The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip. When the agitator stops, out your dog. (Some dogs you want to out quickly and some dogs slower depending on your training) At the judge's signal approach your dog at a normal pace.

At the basic position say "sitz" to your dog. Then to the agitator say, "Step back three paces" or "Step back", "Hands up", "Platz" in that order. Go to the agitator pat him down and remove the stick. Go back to the dog and say, "sitz," and then put leash on and fuss to the right side of the agitator. Stop and the dog should sit automatically. Say "move out" to the agitator. Say "fuss" to your dog. (Do not touch agitator during escort to judge. Never walk between the dog and agitator.)

Escort the agitator to the front of the judge, the dog should sit automatically and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is ..., we have completed Schutzhund 1 protection." Proceed to the area where judge makes his remarks.

SCHUTZHUND 2:

TRACKING:

Tracking is the same as the SchH 1 except slightly longer and laid by a stranger.

OBEDIENCE:

The obedience for the SchH 2 is the same as the SchH 1, but continues to the wall in the retrieve and increases the flat dumbbell weight.

Order:

Report to the judge with the other competitor. He will then tell you to go to the basic position or to the long down.

Long Down:

Go to down area and face the dog to the direction you will be waiting. Take the leash off and put totally away. Put hands to the side and look straight ahead. Say "platz." and walk off on right leg and stand with back to dog. Do not look at dog. Wait for judges command to go back to the dog. Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking straight ahead and say "sitz". Put leash on dog and fuss to the end of the field and wait until the other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise:

Basic routine:

  • Online heeling
  • Offline heeling
  • Walking sit
  • Walking down with recall
  • Flat retrieve
  • Retrieve over brush jump
  • Retrieve over the wall
  • Voraus

Starting at basic position (where you start every exercise) on lead, 50 paces out normal, about turn, 10 paces normal, 10 paces fast, 10 paces slow, 10 paces normal, right turn 10 paces, right turn 10 paces, about turn, 10 paces and stop, 10 paces left turn, then go into the group.

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In the group, show right turn and left turn and stop on lead. The stop should be slightly near a group person.

Proceed out of the group and about turn and stop. Take the leash off and put it totally away either around your waist or in a pocket or around the shoulder with clip on the opposite side of dog. Go into the group and show a right turn, left turn, and a stop. (Example of group in Schutzhund 1 routine.)

(If you are going to praise I suggest it now after the sit. Not enough for your dog to get out of control but enough to encourage your dog. You know your own dog; maybe you want to praise a lot or a little or not at all. Whatever suits your individual dog.)

Go to the basic position and do the same routine off lead. (Do not go into walking sit, common mistake.) After the left turn you may stop your dog at a sit and praise.

Go to the basic position, 10 paces walking, sit, go 30 paces and wait for judges signal.

Go to the basic position 10 paces walking, down, go 30 paces and wait for judge to signal recall. Recall and then finish.

Get SchH 2 dumbbell for flat retrieve.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for brush jump. "Hup" is the first command. While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for wall. "Hup" is the first command. While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he gets to the dumbbell.

Go to the basic position for voraus. (Use the time it takes other competitor to get their dog off long down to prepare your dog for voraus.) New rules state 10 paces at least for a build up.

(At basic position wait for the judge to watch you to start. If he is not he may ask you to start again. Wait for the judge's command for most things except the finish and out for dumbbell, but wait 3 seconds for each. Some judges want to tell you everything, most judges like to see you carry out the routine quickly on your own.)

After both competitors have finished report out to the judge, your name, dog’s name, and report what you have just completed, "we have just completed Schutzhund 2 obedience". Go to the area of judge's critiques, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

PROTECTION:

Report to the judge on leash unless otherwise instructed. "My name is..., my dog’s name is..., we are starting our Schutzhund 2 protection." After the report take the leash off.

Go to the middle of the field and face the first blind and wait for the judge's signal. Point to the blind and say "voran". Say "heir" when the dog is at the blind. By this time you should know how to run blinds. Watch others if possible to see problems other dogs are having with certain blinds.

On the judge's signal go to the spot indicated by the judge for call out. When approaching the blind to recall the dog, do it calmly and efficiently.

Recall dog by saying "fuss". If the dog doesn't respond after three commands go to the dog and fuss it back to call out position.

Ask agitator to step out of the blind. The agitator usually has a spot that the judge has asked him to step to.

Say "fuss" and fuss your dog to a spot about 5 paces from decoy or where the judge indicates. Say, "Platz, hands up." (Here you can do a variety of commands: (1) You can say step out and hands up to the agitator from the beginning, or (2) step out of the blind and later say hands up. Whatever works for you and your dog. Why does it make a difference? Because some dogs platz by themselves because of routine.)

Go search the agitator and put his arms down and then proceed to the blind. When you are at the blind the helper will try to escape. When he stops tell your dog to out. There then will be an attack with two stick hits. When the agitator stops out your dog.

Go up to your dog and say "sitz" and tell the helper to turn around and move out. Fuss you and your dog 5 paces behind the helper for attack on handler.

After the attack on the transport, out your dog and at the direction of the judge go up to your dog and say "sitz". On judge's signal free heel to the hiding place (blind) and wait for the courage test. Put leash on in the blind.

The judge calls the handler out of the hiding place to the center of the field. Take of leash. The handler holds the dog by the collar. The dog should sit calmly. The helper crosses the field at a walk and at direction of the judge the handler yells "Stop-stand still". The helper upon hearing this runs threateningly at dog. The judge will tell you to send your dog. You may move while the dog is running and you must stop when the dog makes contact with helper. The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip. When the agitator stops out your dog. At the judge's signal, approach your dog at a normal pace.

At the basic position say "sitz" to your dog. Then to the agitator say, "Step back three paces" or "Step back", "Hands up", "Platz" in that order. Go to the agitator pat him down put his arms down and remove stick. Go back to the dog and say, "sitz," and fuss to the right side of the agitator. Stop and the dog should sit automatically. Say "move out" to the agitator. Say "fuss" to your dog. (Never walk between the dog and agitator or touch agitator during escort to judge.)

Escort the agitator to the front of the judge, the dog should sit automatically and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is ..., we have completed Schutzhund 2 protection". Put leash on here.

Proceed to the area where the judge makes his remarks.

SCHUTZHUND 3:

TRACKING:

Tracking for the SchH 3 is similiar to the Schutzhund 2, two more corners and longer. Points on the track are different and you should understand these changes.

OBEDIENCE:

The obedience for the SchH 3 is more complex, not quite the same as the SchH 1 or SchH 2. There is no on lead, but lead must be on handler.

Order:

Report to the judge with the other competitor. He will then tell you to go to the basic position or to the long down.

Long Down:

Go to down area and face the dog to the direction you will be waiting. Put hands to the side and look straight ahead. Say "platz." and walk off on right leg and stand or sit in blind. Do not look at dog. Wait for judges command to go back to the dog. Return to the dog standing at the heel side looking straight ahead and say "sitz". Fuss to the end of the field and wait until the other dog does his voraus.

Heeling exercise:

Basic routine:

  • Offline heeling
  • Walking sit
  • Running down with recall
  • Walking stand
  • Running stand
  • Flat retrieve
  • Retrieve over brush jump
  • Retrieve over the wall
  • Voraus

Starting at basic position, 50 paces out normal, about turn, 10 paces normal, 10 paces fast, 10 paces slow, 10 paces normal, right turn 10 paces, right turn 10 paces, about turn, 10 paces and stop, 10 paces left turn, then go into the group.

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In the group, show right turn and left turn and stop. The stop should be slightly near a group person.

(If you are going to praise I suggest it now after the sit. Not enough for your dog to get out of control but enough to encourage your dog. You know your own dog; maybe you want to praise a lot or a little or not at all. Whatever suits your individual dog.)

Go to the basic position, 10 paces walking, sit, go 30 paces and wait for judge's signal to return.

Go to back to basic position unless you want to start there. Go 10 paces walking, 10 paces running and "platz" your dog, keep running 30 paces. Wait for judge's signal to recall. Recall your dog and finish.

From that position walk 10 paces, stand your dog, go 30 paces. Wait for judge's signal to return to your dog. When beside your dog wait 3 seconds, say "sitz".

Return to the basic position unless you want to start from there and immediately start running and at 10 paces, stand your dog, keep running 30 paces. Recall when judge signals and finish your dog.

Get SchH 3 dumbbell for flat retrieve.

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for brush jump. "Hup" is the first command. While the dog is in the air over the jump before he gets to the dumbbell you must say "bring".

Use SchH 1 dumbbell for wall. "Hup" is the first command. While the dog is in the air over the jumps you must say "bring" before he lands.

Go to the basic position for voraus. (Use the time it takes other competitor to get their dog off long down to prepare your dog for voraus.) New rules state 10 paces at least for a build up.

(At the basic position wait for the judge to watch you to start. If he is not he may ask you to start again. Wait for judge's command for most things except the finish and out for dumbbell, but wait 3 seconds for each. Some judges want to tell you everything, most judges like to see you carry out things quickly on your own.)

After both competitors have finished report out to the judge, your name, dog’s name, and report what you have just completed, "we have just completed Schutzhund 3 obedience". Go to the area of judge's critiques, usually in front of the grandstand or group.

PROTECTION:

Unless otherwise instructed, report to the judge. When reporting to the judge you must be off leash (leash has to be on person). "My name is..., my dog’s name is..., we are starting our Schutzhund 3 protection". Proceed to the center of the blinds. Face the first blind and wait for the judge's signal unless he said to proceed on your own. Point to the blind and say "voran". Say "heir" when the dog is at the blind. By this time you should know how to run blinds. Watch others if possible to see problems other dogs are having.

On the judge's signal go to the spot indicated by the judge for call out. When approaching the blind to recall the dog, do it calmly and efficiently.

Recall dog by saying "fuss". If the dog does not come out after 3 commands go to dog and fuss the dog back to call out spot.

Ask the agitator to step out of blind. The agitator usually has a spot that the judge has asked him to step to.

Say "fuss" and fuss your dog to a spot about 5 paces from decoy or where the judge indicates. Say, "Platz, hands up." (Here you can do a variety of commands: (1) You can say step out and hands up to the agitator from the beginning, or (2) step out of the blind and later say hands up. Whatever works for you and your dog. Why does it make a difference? Because some dogs platz by themselves because of routine.)

Go search the agitator and put his arms down and then proceed to the blind. When you are at the blind the man will try to escape. When he stops tell your dog to out. Then there will be an attack with two stick hits. When agitator stops out your dog.

Go up to your dog and say "sitz" and tell helper to turn around and move out. Fuss your dog at 5 paces behind the helper for attack on handler.

After attack, out your dog and go up and "sitz" your dog and tell agitator to "step back" and "hands up" and tell your dog to "platz". Go pat down helper and drop his arms and disarm helper and go back to your dog. (Never walk between dog and helper.) Say "sitz" and fuss your dog to the right hand side of helper. Dog should automatically sit before proceeding to judge. Do not touch the agitator during escort to judge. Escort the agitator to the front of the judge, the dog should sit, and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is ..., we have completed the first part of Schutzhund 3 protection".

Go to indicated hiding spot (blind) for the courage test. The judge calls the handler out of the hiding place to the center of the field. The handler holds the dog by the collar or allows the dog to sit freely. The dog should sit calmly. The helper runs across the field at direction of the judge and the handler yells "Stop-stand still". The helper upon hearing this runs threateningly at dog. The judge will tell you to send your dog. You may move while the dog is running and you must stop when the dog makes contact with helper. The agitator attacks the dog and presses the dog after the grip. When the agitator stops out your dog. The dog is then reattacked with stick hits. Out your dog again when helper has stopped.

At the judge's signal approach your dog at a normal pace.

Say "sitz" to your dog at fuss position. Then to the agitator say, "Step back", "Hands up", "Platz" in that order. Go to the agitator and pat him down and put his arms down and remove stick. Go back to the dog and say "sitz," and fuss to the right side of the agitator. Stop and the dog should sit automatically. Say "move out" to the agitator. Say "fuss" to your dog. (Never walk between the dog and agitator.)

Escort the agitator to the front of the judge, dog should automatically sit, and hand the judge the stick and state, "My name is ... and my dogs name is ..., we have completed Schutzhund 3 protection."

Proceed to the area where the judge makes his remarks.

HINTS: Remember each dog is different.

Go two paces more for each stage: example if rules say 10 slow go 12 slow. Learn to leave a staying dog on right leg. Begin heeling with left leg. Leave a staying dog slowly and calmly. Leave a recall quickly and go a little farther and use the whole field; a dog is more likely to come with attitude if you're farther away. The slow pace should be fast enough, the dog isn't thinking sit. The fast pace used to be really fast, but now they ask for just change of speed.

The general rule is first off the field in obedience will get the better score. Be professional and quick; know what you are doing, the judge will respect that. Be on time, judges do not like to wait. Have your dog always on dead ring choke of fursaver. No tags on the collar.

On the dumbbell know when to give a second command if needed, it might cost you less points. If your dog does a slow turn to the left after picking up dumbbell maybe you will want to throw it to the right over the jump so they are more likely to be facing the jump on the way back. Practice throwing the dumbbell at training. Practice throwing it way right and way left proofing your dog so he knows to come back over the jump no matter how poorly it was thrown. Practice with distances from the jump. Each dog has different distances that work better than others. Some dogs look very impressive when you are far from the jump. Some slow dogs look better when you are as close as the rules allow.

There are many types of walks you can do that let your dog know what is up. For the voraus, walk fast swing your arms to que your dog; do not over exaggerate. In every exercise in the obedience phases look straight ahead and never look back. Have knowledgeable club members watch or video you for unconscious double handling. Examples: Moving shoulders on finish, moving backwards on recall, dropping the head when saying sit, down, stand. Always make sure the dog is at a sit position for three seconds before releasing or moving forward.

Three seconds is the pause you want to make in the dumbbell exercises at every out after the dog is at here position, before asking for your dog to finish, before fussing away when returning to a down or sit, for sits in group.

Remember, the judge is king for a day and what he says goes. If the judge wants things done a certain way, do it. Not all judges are the same.

PREPARATION BEFORE THE TRIAL:

Always try to be completely ready six weeks before a trial so you can do build up, work on attitude, or one or two problems that may crop up.

Remembering each dog is different. Plan the last week as build up:

Food: A hungry dog usually works much better.

Example of feeding the last days before a two day trial with tracking on first day: 3 days before full ration

  • 2 days before 1/2 ration
  • 1 day before 1/4 ration
  • day of tracking 1/4 ration
  • OR:
  • 3 days before full ration
  • 2 days before full ration
  • 1 day before 1/2 ration
  • day of tracking no food

Experiment with this before you trial to know what is best for your individual dog. Plan a regular weekend training day as an imaginary trial to prepare your dog. Set up special tracking days and prepare your dog different ways to see what gives you your best performance. Just an idea.

If all obedience training is done randomly in a right turn square (clock-wise). Example: sits, downs, stands. How could they learn to lag around the 10th pace in your build up phase if you always did squares? If your dog consistently sits when asked why would you practice constantly a 10 to 15 pace build up? When in trouble separate and conquer. Example: If you have lost the here position in front of you or it is crooked, separate it from the recall and work on just the here. Just an idea.

Most good trainers take the last days off before a trial. The amount of time off depends on the dog. Did you ever notice when your dog misses a few days of training how energetic they are when they come back? Use this. Many people, beginners and experienced handlers, train so much before a trial they create their own problems. If your dog isn't ready and needs a lot of training before a trial you should think about not entering. There is the rare dog that without consistent training (usually control work) all the way up to the last minute displays such high drive it is out of control at the trial.

Road work is important for adult dogs. Before a weekend trial the last day of roadwork should be Tuesday or Wednesday. Like any athlete going a few days without exercise makes them 'bounce off walls'.

When you are allowed to go on the trial field to do practice obedience before competition most good handlers do only two things:

  1. Do a voraus with attitude (probably no down).
  2. Take the dog on leash over the jumps so they are used to it.

On the other hand if your dog is too out of control on new fields because of lack of control problems maybe do a little fussing on trial field. If you have a problem the place to fix it was six weeks before, not trial day.

Every so often you run into an incredibly high drive dog. A dog who barks through obedience and protection and tends to easily get out of control. Maybe if you ran a mile or so before obedience you can take the edge off and do a good routine. Just an idea.

I hope these ideas and methods at least make a dog's handler think that there are a lot of ways one can be a good handler. Think of your own ways for your particular dog that can make you look great as a team.

More info about Ann Marie Chaffin

Ann Marie is currently a USA Judge, UDC Temperament Tester, and the Secretary for AWDF.

You can reach Ann Marie at Amcusaj@aol.com

Accomplishments:

  • Ann Marie has been involved with dogs since the 1970's when she earned her first CD while 12 years old. She went on to be youth 4-H obedience instructor at the age of 15.
  • Started one of highest titling clubs in the US called High Plains Schutzhund Club, Inc. in the 90's High Plains has over 190 titles to date.. Titles including some AKC titles. High Plains has hosted National events in Denver including the World Qualifier in 1994 and AWDF Championships in 1999 and 1999 and 2000 UDC Championships. Helped secured titles in the club on Bouviers, Dobermanns, Malinios, Rottweilers and German Shepherds.
  • Has done many seminars on dog safety with Christian organizations, 4-H and neighborhoods.
  • Is in USA's Owner/handler Club and has 12 Owner/handler Club trainers started in High Plains.
  • Has done many articles for dog magazines and USA.
  • Schutzhund Trial Chair of the 1997 UDC Nationals in St. Louis
  • Schutzhund Trial Chair/Secretary of the 1999 and 2000 UDC SchH Championship in Denver
  • Trial Chair and Secretary of many USA and UDC National events.
  • Chaired many committees for USA and UDC and AWDF.



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