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.
Up until now I've been pretty good about keeping the blog on topic. That topic being training and not really a chronicle of Gauis' life. So I thought I'd give readers a heads up right here. There is going to be no accounts of training in what is to follow. Just a simple account of a good day in the life of my pup. So if you aren't interested in that you can stop reading here. And I'll return you to your regularly scheduled training blog next post. :) This post is all good times and ice cream.
Baywatch dog. Look out David Hasselhoff.
I took Gauis to a swim party with his dog scout troop. He had a lot of fun.
Juneau is a swimming machine
All of his doggy friends were there...
This is Susie, she's in his obedience class
Here is Gauis' swimming video (Wouldn't be a blog post without a video)
Gauis shaped otter, or the genuine article? You deiced.
This is Dazzle. When we first met her she didn't know how to swim. Now she does dock diving!
Gauis jumped in and out of the pool until he got tried. Then he barked at toys in the pool but was to tired to go get them. Which he enjoyed but was a bit grading on the nerves after a while.
He also can't get out the pool by himself, Sean or I have to pull him out. So instead of swimming to us, signaling his need to leave the pool. He instead swims to the closest edge and just slams his head into it over and over again until someone rounds the pool to where he is to fish him out. He's defiantly lower maintenance when he swims in the River.
On the way home we stopped at an awesome place for dinner.
The weather was really nice so we ate outside.
Sean was really grumpy cause I made him go out of our way to get here. But he cheered up when the food came.
Gauis' got to eat with us which was nice. He was not a fan of our waitress though and barked at her.
Until she brought him a bowl of ice cream with whipped cream and a milk bone in it. Then he decided she was all right.
Uuuummm... I'm still hungry.
He finished the whole thing before we were even half done with our food and he got it after us. Pig.
Guest photographer Sean and his cell phone camera! Because my camera has decided not to talk to my computer any longer.
Well this trick took long enough to teach. Jeeze. Usually to 'teach' a new trick its about a week, a few sessions a day. Then of course I have to refine my criteria and make it reliable and that takes much longer. As proofing things isn't my favorite activity in dog training. I always feel like I'm setting him up to fail and therefore its a bit more stressful a process for both Gaius and me. I'd much rather just teach something new, as watching him learn something is a creative process where I get to watch his brain work, where proofing is more of a consistency excersize Do what I say and don't think too hard about it. Much less fun.
But this trick took, shesh, like months to get right. As mentioned in the original trick title post, he just isn't a delicate or detail oriented dog. It took five sessions to convince him that slamming the rings as hard as he could into the post was not what I wanted. He's also very short (dachshund) and therefore has to lift his head up to put the ring on the post. Which I'm pretty sure made the process much more difficult. But we got there! YAY! Shesh, I have to re-look at my list to see what to do next.... hmmm.
NEWS FLASH I know several of my current readers own dachshunds, so this is for you! I am going to a practice for a dog sport this weekend, which requires little to no training, is designed specifically for dachshunds and ....... wait for it ..... not just encourages, but requires barking. Its an awesome activity for any dachshund and their person and I HIGHLY encourage it as an introduction to doggy sports :) But more on that next week. For now I leave you in suspense.
Gauis looks much larger in this picture than he usually does :P
No the mystery is not how Gauis became a boxer. That is Lisa and Lacey. The mystery we solved was whether Gaius hates agility outside, or if he hates running on mulch. Turns out it's the mulch! YAY. That's really great because a large portion of agility trails are outside on grass. So now I can sign up for those without fear. We learned this at the Agility Show and Go out in Belroi Virgina.
Now Linda (One of my agility instructors) say that Gauis doesn't hate mulch, he just is more enthusastic in a 'trail situation'. Which I'm sure is partially right. But in practice he's only pookey outside, not when we're inside. Even when its really hot (there is no air conditioning in the indoor facility). So it has to be more than just trail excitement I think. I think he doesn't like mulch....
This is Sassy, she is Gauis' girlfriend.
He loves her. She is cranky, neurotic, shy and snaps at him sometimes. So you know, a normal girlfriend. :)
I learned some other things at the practice trail. One of which is that Gauis really has a proublem barking at judges. Ugh, I don't think I'm ever going to escape this issue. He particularly seems to hate it when the judge raises his hand to call a refusal. Which gives the appearance of him arguing with a referee about a bad call when he flips. It makes everyone in the audience laugh. When he did it in his first run, I just grabbed him and jerked him off the course. Crate time! If you can't play nice you can't play at all. That didn't really work. Linda says that only really works when dogs REALLY love agility. I mean Gauis likes agility fine, but he doesn't care enough that being taken off the course is that much of a punishment.
The next run I just called him off the judge. That took a moment, but he finally got back to work and finshed his run spunky and happy. So I guess that's what matters. Linda says this is a better strategy for trails. And a lot more socialization with strange men. Which I hate. I mean you try walking up to people and saying "Hey, my potentially aggressive neurotic dog hates you. Do you mind feeding him a treat?" People aren't really chomping at the bit to help you. I'm lucky he's small and cute.
On our last dog scout hike we were moving along and these two female hikers came in the other direction. Gauis decided to go bark at them and I went to call him off. Of course, they thought he was adorable. I don't think its adorable. But anyway apperently they have a dachshund at home they wanted to tell me all about. Then the strangest thing happened. The shorter woman goes "He's so well behaved. How did you teach him not to bark at people. I mean we can't get ours to stop." I gave her the strangest look. I mean my dog was barking at them. Like that moment, while she asked the question. Screaming his head off. I gave her the only answer I could think of. "I have absolutely no idea." People are weird.
This is Juneau and his mommy Jennifer. She is the lady talking while holding the camera in the video. Compared to that big issue all the other mistakes he made were cake. He screwed up his weave poles again. I don't understand how he can be so stellar at those in practice but not at trials. I think he's not used to doing them so fast. He's not collecting or something. Something to work on. He refused the A-frame again, but he hasn't been on one in a while so that doesn't really bother me. He slide off the table which got a big laugh from the crowd. That was just because he was trucking. How mad can you get when the mistake is speed? Even if he screw up his entire run he's a crowd pleaser.
So here's the video:
This is Digby. He is our trial buddy.
Oh I also made one of Gauis friend Digby's run. Digby is a norwich terrier and very feisty. So you can watch this video too if you like
P.S. Things I did not know i would learn while writing this blog. How to use basic video editing software. I have moved on from i-movie to edius.