I’ve been trying to make a habit out of taking some sort of video or photo footage of training sessions recently (getting WAY too serious). Today I was running late and didn’t grab the camera on the way. I’ll include a picture from a few weeks ago to show that this training does indeed happen. Training sessions typically include obedience work and bite work. As I mention on one of the pages, I’ve been working with Greg Williams of Metropolitan K-9, near Baltimore.
Attention heeling is an enormous foundation of the dog sports. King Man has come a LONG way, but around the first of the year he started having some issues with “crabbing,” where his back end was swinging to the outside while were moving forward. Since then we have started focusing on left turns, which is harder and necessary to learn and should help with the crabbing. Not only has it helped with that, but we are also to the point where we can do two quick left turns and I only step on King’s feet every once in a while. It’s easier to understand if you watch it. Anyway, great progress there.
We also added a new component today- Greg put his decoy jacket down on the ground and we worked on heeling around it. Typically, the jacket is something King gets to bite (hard), while Greg is wearing it. King Man nailed it in that he stayed looking at me as we heeled right past it. We then progressed to heeling around the jacket with Greg wearing it. Impressively, that went without a hitch. Guess I finally have his attention…
A couple weeks ago, we went back to using a harness on King during his bite work. There are a couple reasons for this. One reason is the dog can pull into the harness hard (see: sled dogs) without having a physical correction at the neck. This is great in building drive because the harness is not restraining the dog in the same way a collar does. The other big reason is that a harness doesn’t constrict the dog’s barking (cut off airflow) like a collar does. The first level of PSA is called a Protection Dog Certificate (PDC), and includes a courage test involving barking to warn off an aggressive “assailant.” In some earlier training sessions, the collar I’d been using had been audibly cutting into King’s barking. I had bought a good harness (these should be specifically designed for this type of work) several months back, so with the use of the harness King has found his voice again.
Greg as our trainer is also the “decoy,” which is a one-word term for the guy that gets bitten (in a bite suit or bite sleeve). As soon as Greg put on the bite sleeve today, King started barking, which is a good thing. Today’s work was new in that we are shifting from King biting anywhere on the forearm (like in the picture) to targeting the bicep area, which is required in competition. We just used a bite sleeve today, but King figured it out very quickly and seemed to have a lot of fun.