This week was the last formal training opportunity until the end of the month. Hopefully the dog doesn’t forget everything he’s learned.
In our obedience training, all of our foundational work seems very intact, and I feel really good about passing the PDC. In addition to different heeling patterns and recalls to heel while in motion, we’ve added some PSA 1-type work, including starting working the long down, where the dog must remain in a down for 3 minutes. That’s not a favorite for many dogs; we’re working in a 1 and 2 minute down so far and it seems to be going well. On top of that, when the handler returns to the dog, the dog can’t anticipate coming up into a sit and heeling away. We have also in the past done heeling around a non-agitating decoy, which for many of these dogs can be a huge distraction as their first reaction might be that it’s time for bitework (i.e. fun).
On bitework, we continue to work two foundational elements which will make everything else a lot better and easier. To start, we do a few bites on a hard Schutzhund-style sleeve which forces the dog to open its mouth for a fuller bite. The particular sleeve we used most recently had a point right in the middle that will compress a little bit when the dog’s mouth is on it- that target gets the dog biting in the correct place on the sleeve in addition to bringing in a fuller bite. After a couple bites on that, we switch over to a Belgian-style sleeve to work on bicep targeting- the sleeve is rotated around to provide extra upper-arm protection to the decoy, and by tucking the hand behind the back there’s a clearer presentation of the bicep area to the dog. This video shows the transition between the two styles of sleeve- during the bite, you can see the dog “counter” in, meaning it is driving into the bite as opposed to trying to pull away. Driving into the bite as you would guess creates a fuller bite, and after a few counters you can see the decoy (Greg) slip the sleeve as a reward.
While I doubt I will get to see any canine competitions during my upcoming trip, I am hoping to come back with some well-made bitework equipment. In the meantime, I leave you with this (this hat did not stay on very long):