Sometimes, you just get lucky. I happened to stumble upon the nicest couple in the world that happens to also be amazing dog trainers in both Schutzhund and AKC. They have competed internationally with their dogs since around 1975! They specialize in German Shepherds and just bred what may be their last litter. If I could only have five dogs! No, even I have limits.
AKC obedience is easy to get into. There are many clubs with that tend to have a congenial, friendly atmosphere. It’s easier to get help and instruction at these clubs. Schutzhund, on the other hand, is much harder. There is a lot to learn and if you are a newcomer it’s hard to find someone to take you aside and really teach you. Most have to just try to learn by watching. I am so lucky to have found these people who are willing to take their time to show me the ropes. I’ll share as much as I can here.
Here is the list of main items to master with Lizzie in obedience over the next few weeks. (I’ll work on focus with Riyo as well).
1. Work on focus: get dogs attention by making a quick little gasp noise to get them to look, the make a “click” sound, and treat. Keep treats all over the house and do this randomly all day long as well as in training sessions.
2. Heeling. Treat in left hand, up over dog’s head to keep dog looking up. Start one step at a time. Heel a step, sit, heel, sit while keeping the dog’s attention.
3. “Here” or “Front”. Get the dog right up to your belly and sitting straight. Hold your hand right on your stomach, palm up, so the dog gets right up on you on the here. If dog is not close enough, step back and pull it closer.
4. All this is done with motivation (food). No force.
5. Keep lengthening sit stays and down stays. Down stay needs to get at least 10 minutes.
Some additional focus tips:
Get a handlers jacket with high chest pockets. Pull the treats from there and hold in your mouth. If you always have your treats in your pockets, the dogs are always looking at your pockets and not up and your face. Added bonus is you don’t get all your shirts and jackets dirty with dog treat crumbs.
Handler’s jacket that I just ordered from http://leerburg.com/trainersvests.htm:
Dog Training Handler's Vest
Teach the dog to catch and improve focus:
1. first lob the treat underhanded to the dog so it sees it coming clearly
2. once they are good at that, hold the treat in your lips and get the dogs attention. When the dog looks, make a click sound with your moth to mark the behavior and then launch that treat toward the dog like you would a spit ball. Click must come within 1 to 1.5 seconds after the correct behavior.
3. The purpose is to get a dog that intently looks as your face. You don’t always have to launch from your mouth. The purpose is to get good eye contact and have the dog focusing on your face and not what hand the treat is in!
Hide treat all around you house: Put treat in place where you can reach them but your dog cannot. This way at random times all day you can work on this focus game.
Suggested treats: Pupperoni. They are dry, not gross, and easy to carry around and store.