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Shepherd Stories

My Day at Dog Camp

October 13th 2009 10:43 am
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I'm going to let my human tell the story of my first visit to Dog Camp (Camp Dogwood in Ingleside, IL.)

I took Bianca to a dog camp for one day over the weekend. It is normally a 4-day camp but they have an option of just coming for the day.

Well, I discovered why Shepherds are called one of the most versatile breeds! We did a bunch of activities, several of which Bianca was trying for the first time and she did really well at all of them!
We did herding, tracking, lure Coursing, preparing for the Therapy Dog Test, agility, and carting.

The first thing we did was herding. This was a herding instinct test, we had to drive from camp to the testing site. Bianca did really great and got her "Herding Instinct Certification." She was very funny to watch because for some reason she bounced her way through the testing. If you've ever seen a dog bound through deep snow, that is what she looked like she was doing! I put up a video of part of the test on her Dogster page if anyone wants to see it.
Several of the other owners there commented on what a nice looking dog she was. One of them said they just couldn't take their eyes off her. smile
You can see some photos from her herding on her Dogster page too.

Lure Coursing-
The next activity we did was lure coursing. I think this was Bianca's first time trying it, and at first she wasn't sure about chasing the lure, she kept chasing and then stopping. However the guy running it switched it to a furry lure and as soon as Bianca saw that one she was off!

The next thing we did was tracking. This was "beginner's" tracking. Bianca has done some tracking training in her previous home but I don't know how much and I've never done any tracking. They had the owners taking turns laying a straight track with an item at the beginning and a glove with food at the end, and then hiding near the end (with the dog turned around so they couldn't see where the owner went) while another owner worked the dog. The woman who was working with Bianca was amazed at how good Bianca was. The instructor said we should do the "tracking level 2" activity which was the next day, but unfortunately I was just there for the day so I couldn't go to that.

"Preparing for the Therapy Dog Test"-
The trainer for the therapy dog stuff was one I have taken classes with before (with Pooch mostly) so she knew me but she was surprised to see Bianca (she actually referred to me and Ginger when she made a comment to me because she had assumed I was with my Golden, then she looked closer and realized it was a different dog with me.) Bianca did very well. The segments of the therapy dog test we practiced were from the Delta Society test because that is what the trainer is experience in. The segments the trainers did were: Clumsy Petting, Restraining Hug, Staggering/Gesturing, Angry Yelling, Bumped from Behind, Crowded and Petted by Several People (two, since they only had two trainers there), Leave It (with toys) and Offer Treat. They also used a wheelchair and a walker to see the dog's reaction to a person using those and also to the items on their own.
Bianca did very well on all the segments. She was a little unsure about what was going on with the hugging but she didn't mind. She was also not quite sure what to make of the wheelchair but was not scared or anything like that.

Since she was still raring to go we did agility next. Bianca enjoyed it and especially took to the A-frame, she didn't really need the trainers' help on any of the obstacles. She has tried a few obstacles in the past but only briefly (we took a single session of a drop-in agility class before).

There was supposed to be a break time before dinner at that point but I had talked to the guy running lure coursing earlier as the schedule said he was the person to see about having a "mini session" on carting. When I got there he had a cart out already. He first had me walk Bianca next to the cart to get her used to it. She was kinda nervous about it at first but I encouraged her and she got over it quickly. Once she was comfortable with that he actually hooked her up with a carting harness and hitched her to the cart! He held on to the harness at first and we walked around with her hitched to the cart with me encouraging her the whole way and giving her the start and stop commands. We did a few turns and then she was doing so well that he let her go without him holding the harness (with her walking in between us, and me holding her leash.) She actually pulled the cart all by herself with no problem, including turning, starting from a dead stop and going uphill. The instructor commented that she was very strong and on how good she was doing. She even sat down while hitched up. He said that he thought we could probably have it all down in about a week if we practiced every day and that he thought she could be ready for a drafting test in a month.

Bianca did very well! I was hoping to use the camp to kinda see what dog sports she might be good at and like so I could decide what to train in, but she did good and enjoyed everything we did! So, that doesn't narrow it down any.


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