Sunday, September 12, 2010

Earthdog Practice in Palmyra with the Rivanna River Earthdog Club

Windswept ears at the Earthdog Practice Trial

Do you want to take your dachshund on fun competitive outings, but don't want the hastle of a weekly training class?

Do you want this activity to involve the dog doing all the work while the most you do is stand in one place and watch?

Do you want a sport that involves so little actual training, that even at its most advanced stages it only involves your dog to knowing the word "here" (And in the beginning your dog doesn't even need that)?

Dose your dachshund not have a fancy pedigree, but you still want spiffy ribbons to show to friends and family, and put on your refrigerator?

Well then Earth dog is for you!

This is Popeye. He goes to our training school and dose agility as well. He's much more advanced then Gauis and has a bunch of titles. He's also much better behaved. He's our dachshund hero :)

Wikipedia describes an Earthdog trial : An earthdog trial tests the working ability and instinct of the small, short-legged terriers [or dachshunds]. These dogs were bred to hunt vermin and other quarry which lived in underground dens. Earthdog den trials involve man-made underground tunnels that the dogs must negotiate, while scenting a rat, the "quarry." The dog must follow the scent to the quarry and then "work" the quarry. Depending on the sanctioning organization, “working” means barking, scratching, staring, pawing, digging; any active behavior. The quarry is protected at all times by wooden bars across the end of the tunnel. The hunting encounter is controlled, and neither dog nor the quarry, usually two rats, are in any danger.

And that's basically the jist of it. Let go of dog. Dog runs in hole. Dog barks at rat. You walk away with a sense of pride and a spiffy ribbon.

I know there are animal lovers of all kinds here so let me assuage one worry I had when starting earthdog. The rats don't a give a rat's.... well let's just say they are really un-bothered by the long precession of terriers screaming at them. They are so nonchalant about the whole ordeal that the first time Gauis ran into the hole the judge had to shake the cage to wake them up so they would move, to get Gaius to actually see they were there. This is after hours of dogs snarling right at their cage in their faces. When not at trials they happy little rat lives. So no animal abuse here, other than a bit of noise pollution.

Popeye went in the underground tunnel for the first time today! Go Popeye!

Gauis likes barking at rats. I mean he ignores treats when he smells a rat, and there is nothing he'd rather do than eat. That's why he barked the WHOLE TRIAL (give me an aspirin).

I don't really run Gauis in earthdog. It's really Sean's thing. So I'll let him tell you what happened at practice two weekends ago.

Patience is a virtue Gauis does not posses. He is wondering why I won't let him go get the rat.

If you just want to try Earthdog and see if your pup is interested there is an event called Introduction to Quarry. In Intro to Quarry the tunnel is much shorter and there really aren't any rules. Basically its a chance to see if your pup is into rats. Generally its 15-20 bucks to give it a shot. Don't be discouraged if your dog doesn't go in the hole the first time (Gauis didn't, but he sure dose now!). That can take a few times for your dog to understand what's going on. What you're looking for is any interest in the rat scent trail. If they are into sniffing the front of the tunnel, it's only a matter of time before they charge in. Also the judges are generally really nice and let your dog see the rat if it's your first time. And if your dog dose go in the tunnel you walk away with a spiffy ribbon!

Tuckered out Gauis after his second Earthdog Trial with a Spiffy Ribbon

Earth dog is a blast and a great introductory to dog sports. To find Earthdog events in your area (in the US) go to the AKC website search events and change Competition Type to earthdog trials.

P.S. Agility trial this weekend. Wish us luck!

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