Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time to move on

I've been training at the same place for years. I've been there longer than any other agility student, and all the agility instructors. I do not expect special treatment. I do, however, expect to be treated the same as the others.

I am not returning to classes with Boo, as I feel there is inadequate instruction. This is a beginner level class, and feel that the class shouldn't be "follow the numbers" and "That's nice." One should get instruction, like "Try this."

My class with Bug has turned interesting, as my instructor is no longer speaking to me. Other dog/handler teams last night received, "Good Job!"s.

My older dog, Scout, earned her PDCH-Platinum a few weekends ago. There is usually a big celebration in class, even though she no longer attends. Zilch.

I have a theory on WHY this is going on, but can't substantiate it yet. If it is true, it's most pathetic that a person takes directives from someone else about to whom he/she may speak and behave.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where are the USDAA small dogs? Part 2

The rules at USDAA trials are rather loose, like no requirement to have a dog on a leash, and some vague "sportsmanlike conduct". AKC, well, there's long list in their code of conduct. I can see how this code is appealing to the small dog handlers.

There appears to be an "us against them" mentality between the small dog handlers and the larger dog handlers. Just because your dog is bred to give eye, bite, herd, give chase, or whatever doesn't mean the behavior is acceptable towards other creatures.

Someone posted a picture of a dog gripping a cow on Facebook, very pleased with her dog's (a relative of the pictured dog) mouthiness. Only thing about it is... this dog does NOT participate in herding - it's an agility dog.

Bragging about this got my panties in a bunch. Why? Bug has been a victim of this dog's mouth. Twice. And, the handler NEVER apologized.

Scout just doesn't like most other dogs. I monitor everything around her, as I don't want her to have the opportunity to react. I give warnings. "My dog doesn't like other dogs." I apologize if I haven't been vigilant. Upon hearing Scout's story during an award presentation, most handlers were surprised that she is reactive. "I never knew... you manage it well".

Here are some of the things that my dogs have been subjected to:

  • Walking Boo around at a trial where there was limited space. I chose to return to my setup with my dog that looks like a walking lamby toy through an uncongested area. A border collie rips out of a setup and nails Boo. Boo is clueless and keeps walking. Handler came to me in tears, apologizing, and offering to pay for any veterinary care.
  • Getting Bug ready for a run. He's at my feet, and I have him growling and tugging. A leashed BC is giving him the eye, then goes in for the bite. No apology.
  • Same trial, getting Bug ready for a run. Same BC does same thing. This time Bug reacts, snapping and lunging at the other dog. No apology.
  • Walking Bug, getting him to do his business before his run. Walk 6' behind a BC at ringside whose owner is getting him jazzed up by watching other dogs (BAITING). Dog turns and nips Bug. I get the "why is your dog harassing mine" look.
  • Bug's first day in agility class. Aussie in the other group has fixated on him from the moment we walked in the gate. Aussie is over 75' away and attacks Bug, who is leashed and attached to a weave pole.
Oh, and don't think I'm on a tear about border collie owners. Some small dog owners can be just as guilty!
  • Scout, Ms. Reactive, is being prepared for a run. Her routine is a series of left and right spins and barks. She jumped 16" in Performance, first dog in a large class, so I'll never understand why these morons had their 16" Championship dog out 30 minutes early. The handler of an Italian Greyhound, a breed with petite bones, was rubbing his dog's side, asking him if he wanted to... get Scout - the last dog to ever use as a bait dog.
  • Getting Boo ready for his turn in class. I'm about 30' away from equipment, and he's doing his "rev" routine - kicking his hind legs and barking. The dog currently doing the exercise makes a beeline towards Boo. Twice. I am fortunate to still have quick reflexes, and snatch Boo off the ground. Twice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are the USDAA small dogs?

I have three (rescue) dogs:

Scout is probably a Shiba/Kelpie Mix, 17" and 20.5#. She is an open dog, though one of the smallest.

Bug is a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, 12.25" and 12.5#. He is a mini dog, jumping 16" in Championship.

Boo is a Chihuahua/Something mix, about 10" and 7#. He is in training.

Boo has been special needs since the day I brought him home. He was tranquilized for his neuter surgery, arrived dopey, and remained so for a week. He also refused to eat. And do his business outside. He's lucky that he's adorable.

I know there is the argument about the USDAA jump heights, as the little dogs would either jumpe 12"/16" Championship or 8"/12" Performance. This is part of the issue.

I had trouble with Bug popping weave poles. No one could tell me why, that is, until I came across a small dog person. "You're too close to him. He sees feet, and thinks you will step on him."

Therein lies the problem: Training the small dog in a world of BC-only instruction.
  • How many agility seminars are given by people who train something other than a border collie?
  • How many pictures in Clean Run are NOT of border collies?
  • How many articles have you read that give specific training advice to a dog that isn't a border collie/sheltie/aussie?
Technical courses with tight course times, the IHC flair, the long distance in gamblers.

Technical courses with generous course times, optional games.

Perhaps AKC appears to be a more viable option for the small dog handlers because the handler has difficulty applying large dog training into their small dog world.

This really bothers me, as I am having trouble training Boo, especially with fear of the teeter, and subsequently, the dogwalk. My class is a waste of both time and money. Oh, and the other fun thing about a small dog: other dogs want to eat them AND the other dog owner doesn't apologize.

Boo is a little fella living in a world of giants. I know he has it in him, but I need help unleashing his inner beast.