Thursday, April 27, 2006

UDC Videos

Finally! Camera and computer are now on speaking terms, more or less, and I was able to pull some video to post.

Shakespeare's UDC Adult Temperament Test - Again, this test is not designed to give a complete evaluation of the dog's character, but only to demonstrate that he is basically a Doberman in spirit.

Shakespeare passes with a Sufficient rating.

Laev's UDC Youth Temperament Test - Slightly different to accomodate a younger dog. Laev passes with a Pronounced rating.

(The barking in the background of the TT is from a weekly agility class being run on a nearby field at Purina Farms. But you can still hear the test audio just fine.)

Laev trying an exercise from the Character Test - this is the hidden noise portion of the test; the sound is created by trash can lids and chains being dragged across corrugated metal roofing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Weave Poles & Discrimination

We spent about 50 minutes in the training building after class tonight. We've just started Step 5 of Susan Garrett's 2x2 weave poles method. During step 4, Laev was actually going out through the poles, retrieving her toy, and then returning through the poles to play tug with me.

We also did some fronts, some finishes, some random and mildly distant sits and downs, and I tried to lure/shape a paw lift. Not much success there; I'm going to have to try something else. We also worked on discriminating between "Strike A Pose" (paws up on a chair, looking at me) and "Park It" (lying on a mat) while returning from chasing a bouncing treat. She was starting to do pretty well with the discrimination, until Jon walked in. That distracted her, and then she was tired enough mentally that she had a hard time getting back in the groove. We quit after a few correct reps in a row.

At least she'll sleep well tonight. :-) I need to look up Sue Ailsby's Training Levels and see where we are now and where we need to be.

Lookit My Puppy!

If you haven't seen Cindy Noland's art, you need to check it out. She does fabulous photography, and she managed to capture the only existing still of Laev's temperament test: see here and then you'd better look at the rest of her work here. I'm going to be ordering some more prints from her, too.

I kind of like this picture of Laev. Even though she wasn't feeling the best, because of coming into season, she still wants a piece of that bad guy. You can just see the edge of his stick in the frame. What you can't see is how, immediately after the attacker's retreat, Laev greets the evaluator with an enthusiastic bounce and a happy slurp to the face.

It's a curse of this type of training that all photos are handler butt shots.... ;-)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Video :-(

So, apparently my video camera is not-quite-dead. The Firewire port broke last year about this time, while I was at the UDC Nationals, and apparently this year in honor of that anniversary, the USB port ceased to function. So until I figure out how I can get my digital tapes into the computer, we will have no video on the blog. I apologize.

Collar Warning & Alternative

Every once in a while, one hears of a collar accident. This past week I encountered two -- Laev caught her martingale on a borrowed drop-pin crate, and a client's dog caught her flat bucklet collar on her backyard fence.

I was there when Laev's crate came apart and she leapt out, dragging three interlinked panels behind her by her collar. She was unhurt and unfazed, thinking it was great fun, but it could have been serious if she had tangled and the collar had tightened. The other dog, a sweet and intelligent Labrador mix, died in her accident.

But it's not practical to leave a dog without visible ID; I received another phone call this morning regarding a lost dog. There has to be a happy compromise.

I have seen safety collars before, but the best design has to be the one offered by Tazlab. Unlike some other models, these are safe and at the same time useful as a collar. They actually are sturdy -- I tested one by placing it on Laev and then releasing a cat. If the collar held through that, it isn't going to break easily.

I get no reimbursement for recommending these, but Shakespeare is wearing one now. I keep visible ID on my dogs in case someone leaves a gate open, or I am in a car accident and their crates break open, or any number of odd things. I feel this is the best of both worlds, at least.

Rain & Weaves

It's drizzly and cold today (about 45 degrees F) so I took Laev out and practiced heeling in the rain, downing on wet gravel and sitting in the mud. We were using a tug as a reward, so she was fine with all of it. :-) But I want her to be comfortable working even in icky environmental conditions.

Then we went into my training building and starting playing with weave poles. I'm trying out Susan Garrett's 2x2 method for the first time; we'll see how it goes! We got through step three today, with Laev finding the entry between two off-set poles.

Monday, April 24, 2006

UDC 2006 -- Friday & Saturday

I was too busy and then too tired to post, so here's a recap....

Friday was another conformation day for us (I didn't have a dog ready for Obedience). This time Laev took third in her class of three and received a G rating. The first place dog from the day before took first again, but with a VG rating instead of an E. Judge Catherine Thompson said that Laev had a very correct tail set, etc., but that she was just out-matured in this class -- which was very true! Especially considering that we didn't come to win anything, we aren't losing any sleep over it.

Shakespeare again took first in his class of one (though it's possible for an inferior dog to receive a lower placing in a class of one, so I don't entirely take it for granted) and another G rating. He has an extra tooth, both judges pointed out. And again, Best of Opposite Sex. :-)

Friday late afternoon we took the dogs for SAR evaluations. I was really curious to see how Laev would fare; Shakespeare got to do an evaluation just to keep him from sitting bored in the crate, and so I could see his specific reations to part of the testing. I know he doesn't have the temperament to pull of a search of several hours, but the testing could show me other things about how he's progressed.

Laev aced the testing. The evaluators loved her, told me that she could do anything. She was "very nice" for a 14-month-old puppy. One team member came back later to ask if I were going to breed her, and I told him that I'd never said never but had no plans to do so at this time. He returned later to ask about Laev's breeder and to get contact information, because he liked her nerve so well.

Shakespeare fared through the first part of the test just as I thought he would; social, calm, indifferent to the other dog, curious but indifferent to the strange noises, the milling people, strange footing, etc. But I was very pleased with his later testing -- he fired right up to play with me, was more than happy to play with the stranger, and even went in search of the "lost" stranger with his toy, something I really wasn't sure he'd care about. Even after he discovered that he could stretch out and RUN after a week of being on-leash or crated, something I was sure would spell the end of his interest in playing with a dumb old toy, he came right back and tugged with us. Not bad for a dog who had to be clicked into taking a tug into his mouth in the beginning!

Friday night was the silent auction, which kept me busy, and the draw party for the IPO trial the next day. Nerve attack! Why was I suddenly so nervous about this? We were tracking the next day, and I was suddenly jittery. Wow.

Saturday morning, the T3/IPO3 and T2/IPO2 tracks were run before the T1/IPO1s. (IPO is a flavor of Schutzhund, for lack of a better explanation.) So we had a couple of hours to stand around and get nervous. :-) When our turn finally came, we went to the T1 field and laid tracks.

I should point out here that our field was sloping and occasionally hilly -- something the dogs should be trained to deal with. We also had a crosswind, occasionally brisk but generally mild. The dogs also should be able to deal with that. We also had, we counted up afterward, FIVE bitches in heat in the dozen or so vehicles parked at the top of the hill. Most of the dogs apparently weren't prepared to deal with that.

Not one dog passed the T1. We scored a 63; I thought two others scored in the 60s, but the website results say 30 and 60, and another dog with a 10. Shakespeare did find both articles, which pleased me, but he was obviously working the scent cone toward them rather than tracking ground scent, and occasionally he paused to sniff the lovely smells drifting down the hill...!

He got lost at one point and stopped working completely, standing 20' off the track with his head up. I stood quietly, not sure if I were permitted to give another command to track, and waited. Time passed. Thank goodness for clicker training, because at the end of that 33' line, Shakespeare realized that we were both standing still, and maybe he should offer something, now? I recognized the body language. And as he moved, lo! there's a track here!

I thought we'd passed, just squeaking into qualifying, but the judge said 63. Oh, well.

I also realized just how much Shakespeare hates trials. I've always known that he hates trialling, which is why he stresses badly and does not score well, but he made it very obvious on Saturday. He had no problem whatsoever with the impartiality test (which all dogs must pass before being allowed to compete that day), but as soon as I started him toward the head of the track and he saw a judge standing there with a clipboard, he tried to turn back to the car. He came with me when I asked, because he's a great dog, but it was a real shock to me to realize just how much he hated it. I was upset by it -- what kind of handler am I to torture my dog thus? For something he'll never understand, a mere couple of letters?

So, maybe that was his last working trial. I suppose I might do our own club trial, maybe, but I won't push it. We'll keep doing Rally, which he likes, and maybe Agility if convenient, but I'm not going to push him into something he hates. I'm in this because it's fun, not for personal aggrandizement, and there's no reason to force him to be uncomfortable just so I can have another title under my belt.

Still, now he's FO UCD Shakespeare To Go CD CGC BH WAC TDI RL1-CL RL2 RN ATT, so I guess that shows that I loved him enough to play with him. :-) And Laev has her first letters ever, Ascomannis Laevatein YTT, as it's common to indicate that a dog has passed the temperament testing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

UDC Temperament Test - a brief explanation

The UDC Temperament Test is not designed to give a complete picture of the dog, but it's intended to demonstrate whether or not a dog behaves like a Doberman.

The test has several forms, depending on the age and training of the dog. Shakespeare took the Adult test, which runs as follows:

  • Dog and handler weave through milling crowd of pushy people, dog on loose leash and not under any cue. The dog should be calm, stable, social.

  • While the dog is in the group, the evaluator drops clipboard beside dog, greets him, etc. The dog should be calm, stable, social.

  • Dog and handler go for a walk. A man comes out from behind a van and moves suspiciously. The dog should notice the man and watch him, but it is faulty if the dog aggresses before there is a real threat.

  • The stranger turns and directly threatens the dog and handler. He fires a gun twice before raising a stick in a front attack. The dog should go forward intensely to meet the threat, without being deterred by the gunshots.

  • The stranger retreats. The dog and handler move a short distance away and stand for a few seconds, and then the evaluator approaches to greet and pet the dog. The dog should recognize that the evaluator is not the same bad guy of a moment before and should be stable and social.

The possible scores are Pronounced, Sufficient and Insufficient. There is also a Puppy test (no threat at all), a Youth test (gunshots occur as stranger is retreating, so there is less direct stress and confrontation), and a Sport Dog test for titled working dogs (which includes actual bitework and outs).

A more complete picture of the dog's character can be gained in the Fit For Breeding tests or the Scandanavian Character Test, or other testing. But this at least ensures that the dogs which gain championship points are the dogs who are acting like Dobermans.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

UDC 2006 - Conformation

Okay, today was just not what I expected.

Today was Laev's first conformation show -- and Shakespeare's, too, actually. I entered pretty much just for fun, to support the club, and so that I could get a verbal and written critique of my dogs. That's a great educational tool for me.

If you add up all the conformation training I've ever done with both dogs, we'd probably total about 27 minutes. I'm serious. I went into the ring planning to use our stand-stay and bait.

We showed under judge Nancy Christesen. Laev was up first, in a class of four bitches ages 12-24 months. She turned 14 months old this week; the others were all just under two years. I figured she'd be less mature and no threat at all to them, anyway, as she wasn't bred for conformation (other than for working ability and the proper structure to do it healthily).

Judging in UDC takes much, much longer than in AKC, because the judge has to examine each dog closely enough to be able to justify her pick, and because the critiques have to be written. Each dog gets probably 5 minutes of individual examination. That means that while we weren't being judged, we were hanging out, playing with a toy, learning a new trick, anything to keep us from getting bored and fussy in the ring. ;-) Thank goodness for clicker training! I could use a verbal marker to capture what onlookers told me was a better position, modifying our stand as we went. As I remarked, "Smart handlers do this before they get into the ring."

Note the hands-off showing; it's not really in the European style, it's just a lack of knowledge on my part, and I'd rather let the dog be natural than make her look bad!

When our turn came, I baited Laev into a pseudo-stack (she's never really been modeled into a position and doesn't quite like it) and asked her to stay there while I talked to her and treated. We showed off her teeth, and then we mashed our way through the gaiting pattern (something I had actually practiced beforehand, a little, but she recalled none of it).

I had known for weeks that we would place last in our class, so I almost missed it when the judge called us out to go around the ring again with another dog. And then we took second place! behind the very lovely Intl Baby CH Sentinel's Galaxy. I was absolutely stunned.

The winning bitch was rated E (UDC rates dogs similarly to the European system). Laev was rated VG -- she's a little long, which I knew, a little straight in front and back, though at least balanced, and a little immature. And she's handicapped by the world's most inept handler!

free stacking -- which amazingly enough looks exactly like our stack in the line....

It's not really that big a deal, but I was just so pleased to have done better than expected. :-) And there's the possibility, suddenly looming before me, that with maturity, training and a more skilled handler, she could possibly earn a higher rating. Something to consider, though I still don't intend to pursue conformation zealously.

Shakespeare won Best Altered Dog, from his class of one, and received a G rating. Best Altered Bitch took an E rating, so he received Best of Opposite Sex. I have no new illusions regarding his grandeur, but we have a nice trophy photo frame and clock now. :-) Most importantly, he had a blast in the ring, and after I asked him to bow at the end of the judging, he gained a few fans, and in the judging for Best Altered the judge asked us to perform tricks instead of gaiting. We both went through a short repetoire (Best Altered Bitch was the talented Amer/Can CH OTCH Alisaton Aurora Borealis NA NAJ ROM SchH1 OB-3 D-UD ASCA-UD UDX4 VCD1 RN T2) and made the spectators laugh and cheer. Shakespeare loved the attention and the treats, and we had a great time.

Showing off during Best Altered

Best Altered Dog

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

UDC 2006 - Temperament Testing

Huzzah! They both passed!

Waah! My video camera and my computer are not talking. I have to wait until I get home before I can post the video. /sigh/

But I am terribly proud of Shakespeare. Despite his fear of gunfire -- yes, he's gunshy -- he rocketed right back at the bad guy after his initial startle, doing his "I'm-a-Doberman" routine. I really wasn't sure if he'd be able to hold it together with a full frontal confrontation and gunfire, but he recovered quickly and did it! Yay for him, passing with a Sufficient rating.

(UDC requires dogs to take a temperament test before they can compete in conformation, and they must pass it in order to receive the equivalent of championship points. Dogs who do not have correct temperament for the breed cannot become conformation champions. I think it's a better system -- not perfect, but better.)

Laevatein worried me too, at the last minute; she was SO mellow before the test, I wondered if she'd wake up enough to participate. She's in heat, and the last time I actually took her to the vet because she was so quiet and calm I was sure she was ill. I can tell she's in heat now because she's not jumping on me or anyone else. She was very polite in the crowded group, looking at people but not jumping up on anyone, and that is just so not her. ;-)

But she did wake up for the bad guy, though she wasn't as animated as I would have expected normally. Still, the evaluator said some fabulously nice things about her, and she passed with a Pronounced rating.

I'll try to have that video up as soon as I can. (I have only video of Laev, no still photos.) I'm so proud of my dogs today. :-)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

UDC Nationals 2006

Well, here we are at scenic Purina Farms in Gray Summit, Missouri, for the 2006 United Doberman Club Nationals. The UDC is a working-oriented breed club, not affilitated with the AKC but with the AWDF. Today was a day of seminars and games; tomorrow will be temperament tests and fit for breeding tests, and then the rest of the week will include conformation, obedience, an IPO trial, etc.

We started the day with a workshop on training the Doberman for IPO (okay, actually, we started the day by getting lost, since I didn't trust my memory and instead trusted a machine with an incomplete map). I missed most of John Soares' talk, but we arrived in time for the working segment and watched other teams at work, taking careful note of how they were doing things. When our turn came, he complimented us with, "She has an awesome bite," and then told me some ways I could make her grip calmer while she sat facing me with the toy as I cradled her.

She's the only dog here with a tail! I've seen a few natural ears, especially on the Search dogs, but no tails. So she draws a fair amount of attention. Most of it has been very kind, this year. One woman looked at Laev and saw something she recognized -- it turns out she owns Laev's half-sister, just 10 days younger, whom I saw work later today and is also a very nice dog.

I also attended a seminar on the Scandanavian character test, and then we had the opportunity to work through a mock test. I opted to work only Laev, and her on only part of the test, since we have temperament testing tomorrow and I didn't want to stress the dogs in advance, but she did very well. I have video; I'll try to get that captured and rendered for posting later.

Then we went to play some Doggie Games, a fundraiser for SAR. Laev got to pick a toy, and we played Musical Flags (with marker flags instead of chairs) during which I shamelessly and ostentatiously cheated but lost our spot anyway, and Laev paw-painted a picture, and we won first place in the Doggie Duds race for which we had to run to a pile of clothes, dress the dog and race back.

There are three of us sharing a hotel room -- myself, my sister, and a friend -- with six Dobermans: one intact male, one neutered male, three spayed bitches, and an intact bitch. And, to make life really interesting, Laev is coming into heat. :-)

The only bad part of the day was the incredible tick infestation in the fields. I took 19 ticks off my right ankle alone; it was like something out of The African Queen. I hope the Frontline holds on the dogs.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Toy -- Down

Well, no, it didn't last. It was a great week, though.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


These are a couple of shots from Saturday, April 1. Laev sure does love her bitework....

This isn't from more formal training, but just Laev's first picture of a temperament test. We didn't actually recreate the test, but as she's a young dog, she hadn't really seen many bad guys come at her aggressively in a frontal challenge. She was all over this one, though. :-)

She's just starting to fill out, looking more like a Doberman and less like a skinny black and tan Greyhound. Just for fun, I've entered her in a conformation class at UDC this year, which will be quite funny, given her immature build, her ears and tail, and the fact that we've done almost no conformation training at all!


So Laev and I are running off the protection field, a sleeve clutched proudly in Laev's mouth. About halfway back to the distant car (Schutzhund is good for my waistline), Laev steps on the dangling sleeve leash, jerking her head down. I see her trip and manage to avoid her as she plants her head firmly into the ground. She rolls over the top of her head and down her spine, completing a beautiful somersault, and comes up with her own momentum, looking slightly startled but still firmly clutching the sleeve. Then, almost without missing a stride, she continues on to the car, proudly carrying her sleeve despite its attempt to escape her.

Silly dog. :-)

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm a Slacker!

I'd love to post today about how well Laev is doing in her training, how she's actually sitting and waiting reliably to be sent to do a hold and bark at the blind, how she's playing with me almost anywhere I take her in the car. But instead, I'd like to mention that I'm a slacker.

See, Lynn pointed out that Laev's littermate just earned her Brevet in French Ring. This is awesome! as I highly respect ringsport dogs and the level of training that goes into that. The Brevet is an entry level title, but it's no small thing, either. Huzzah for Leika!