"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 8:  March 5, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Entering Your Dog in Competitions
=>  Stupid Criminals
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  When Good Dogs Crossbreed

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Folks!

Well, I'm back. It has been a busy couple of weeks and I have another pretty busy one to go. After that, things should return to normal.

Last week I was again amazed at the way our legal system works. I consulted on a case and at times just wanted to pull my hair out yelling, “Get to the point!” All and all though, it is an interesting part of what I'm fortunate enough to be able to do.

I am also in the process of evaluating some instructional material produced by American Humane Assoc. designed specifically for law enforcement officers. It was designed after the shooting of a family dog by officers a few years ago. At first glance, it looks pretty good, but I haven't gotten too in-depth yet.

I've received a lot of requests for information about the Paws for Change Foundation. Next week, I'll have information posted on my website about the foundation, how you can become involved, or just find out what's been going on. Not sure what day it will be up so just check back.

Okay, I better get back to work here. As always, keep sending the questions and comments. They are greatly appreciated.

I'm outta here!



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Mr. Aust,

We love the newsletter and look forward to it every week. We sure have learned a lot new ways to look at our dog.

We have a Border Collie who is almost a year old. She is super smart, (really, she is) knows all her commands verbally and with hand signals. She is not really hyper like some Border Collies, but will play all day long in the park or swimming in the lake.

We were thinking she would make a great competitive agility or obedience dog in all breed shows, and that it might be a lot of fun to get involved in. How do we know if she is really good enough and what all does it involve?

Megan R.
Mesa, AZ.

Entering Your Dog in Competitions

I used to compete throughout the year and did so for several years. I was fortunate to be working and training dogs for a living and was able to get a couple hours of training a day in to prepare for competition. I also had access to every type of facility I needed to train. Beyond all that, I really liked to win.

Dog competitions are serious business. Not so much financially, as most people who compete are happy to break close to even each year. I mean serious in the sense it must be taken seriously if you plan to do well and also protect your dog from physical and emotional injury.

First, lets understand the time commitment that goes with training and performing with a competitive dog. You can easily figure a minimum of five to 10 hours a week dedicated to your dog depending upon your chosen sport. You can also figure on giving up a full weekend for a competition.

These times are during competition season, which can last eight months out of the year based on your region. If you compete once a month, the most I recommend, you can see a good amount of time adding up. It is a pretty serious commitment to consider.

Next, you need to decide if you want to go into "breed specific" or "all breed" competitions. As they sound, breed specific competitions will only allow a particular breed and all breed shows will allow all comers, even mutts. I prefer all breed shows as they are more unpredictable than the other and allow for a newcomer to come in and sweep a show. The environment also feels a lot more relaxed and laid back.

Here, we have a Border Collie looking at agility and obedience competition. This is a good mix as the breed has performed well in both types. Now, just because the breed has done well in competitions in the past, doesn't mean this one will. The first place we need to go is to the vet.

Physical Exam

Your dog needs a complete physical to include blood work-ups, hip X-rays, and full eye and ear examinations. This should be when the dog is around one year old so that any injuries that may have been undiscovered when they were puppies can be identified. This way, they can be identified and monitored when training begins. They may even eliminate the dog as a candidate for competition training.

"Edumacate" Yourself

Okay, the dog gets the "all clear," what do we do next? This is where you "edumacate" yourself and fine-tune your obedience. Obedience is the foundation and key to doing well in competition. It should be included in your daily routine and must include hand commands. It is fine if obedience is all you do for the first two months because it will save you training time later at the advanced levels.

While doing this, go to as many shows and competitions, as a spectator, and ask lots of questions. Not just of the competitors, but judges, vendors and other spectators. You will obtain a treasure chest of information that you can use or round file, either way, you will pick up a lot of "dos and don'ts."

Get your dog in optimum physical condition. Just because they are healthy and not fat, this does not mean they are in competition condition. Competition and training require a healthy diet and an increase in strength and stamina in order to avoid injury and frustration in the dog. You never want to attempt to teach your dog a task until you are sure they are physically capable of doing it.

If you haven't trained dogs before, get the assistance of a professional trainer or another competitor who is willing to help. These individuals will be able to help you develop a training plan that will work best for you and your dog. Make sure your expectations are realistic and flexible to allow your dog to learn in the best possible environment.

Don't Rush

Take your time when preparing your dog for competition. Give yourself and your dog a minimum proficiency level you both must maintain before moving to the next step in training. Daily training should be closely documented, to include weather conditions, to see how the dog performs. This is also an aid to review performance discrepancies in the future.

Dogs should be familiar with agility obstacles, and water obstacles before they are ever trained to accomplish them. This gives them a sense of comfort with the objects before they are ever asked to work them. This speeds the time it will take to teach them the obstacle but also build trust in training in the future.

Keep it Fun

If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong.

If you want your dog to compete well they have to enjoy what they are doing. It should be made to feel like a game to the dog. They should want to love the task you are asking them to do. Keep training light hearted and always end on a positive note. If you are starting to get frustrated, simply stop training. If you're frustrated or mad, the dog will sense it and get frustrated as well.

You can never take competition too seriously. While it entails serious thought, work and dedication, the idea is to have fun getting there and doing the best you could on the day. Don't get caught up in the “stage parent” routine and the snippiness that can go along with it. If you get too wound up your dog will get perform poorly as they will become uneasy.

Is it Worth IT ...

Competing is a fun activity for every member in the family. It builds a tight bond between owner and dog. It gives the dog lots of fun, increases their health and life expectancy. It does take a lot of work, but it also provides hours of enjoyment to your life and the life of your dog.

Remember too, just because your dog may not be competition ready, these activities can be great way to simply spend time with your furkids. It also increases obedience and sets an example for other pet owners to follow.

For me, it is definitely worth it. Some of my favorite all time dogs have been the ones I competed with. It was worth all the time and sacrifice it took to get the dog ready and see them work at peak performance levels. Whether as a spectator or competitor, these events are fantastic.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter: subscribe@Master-Dog-Training.com
VISIT NOW: http://www.Master-Dog-Training.com

A dog is not almost-human, and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.

~ John Holmes ~

Stupid Criminals

Now what the heck made this guy think this was a good idea?

Officials say over 100 people -- from across and outside the state of Michigan -- have called the Oakland County Animal Control offices to inquire about adopting Betty.

"I spoke to a couple from Pine Island, Florida," said Larry Obrecht, Oakland County Animal Control.

But Obrecht said before the poodle can be placed up for adoption, he wants to make sure the man accused of using the dog as a weapon is, in fact, Betty's owner.

"My concern is that there's a wife or girlfriend with a couple kids that are missing a real nice little dog," said Obrecht.

Guiralamo Marinello, of Shelby Township, remains in police custody after police say he rammed his pickup truck into a deputy's car during a traffic stop Thursday.

The deputy said he tried to pull over Marinello's truck after the driver ran a stop sign at Clarkston and Adams roads. The man "accelerated at a high rate of speed striking the patrol vehicle in the trunk area," said Lt. Dale Miller of the sheriff's department.

The deputy then ordered Marinello out of the truck. Marinello got out of the vehicle with the poodle in his arms and allegedly used it to try to attack the deputy, according to reports.

Police say he grabbed the dog by a collar and started to swing the dog to try and hit the officer with it several times. "We eventually used Mace," said Miller. The man was then taken into custody and Betsy was placed in the care of animal control.

Marinello was charged last week with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, resisting and obstructing police and animal cruelty.

Marinello is being held in Oakland County Jail on a $250,000 cash bond, said the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. His preliminary examination is set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday in front of Oakland County District Judge Julie Nicholson.

Mail Bag


I want to thank you for the cute article you [published] about God creating pets.  I have copied it and am going to read it to my Wednesday Morning Bible Study Group.  Keep up the good work and God bless you.

Peggy H.


I want to tell you how Snickers is doing.  Putting him in the bathroom for a short time when he barks is working like magic.  He is doing real well on sitting and staying.  I can walk away and he usually stays.  I say come and he will come. He then sits at my feet. He also has stopped his wetting on the floor.  A lot of progress has been made.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I know Snickers would love to thank you too.  He now is a happier dog, and he will never have to have the shock collar on again.  I hated to use it and felt terrible when he had it on.  I just couldn't face going to court over his barking.   I know you are a real MASTER DOG TRAINER.

Thank you so much for everything,

Nancy B.

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Joke of the Week

When Good Dogs Crossbreed

Pointer + Setter = Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet

Kerry Blue Terrier + Skye Terrier = Blue Skye, a dog for visionaries

Great Pyrenees + Dachshund = Pyradachs, a puzzling breed

Pekingnese + Lhasa Apso = Peekasso, an abstract dog

Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel = Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean as a whistle

Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever = Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists

Newfoundland + Basset Hound = Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors

Terrier + Bulldog = Terribull, a dog prone to awful mistakes

Bloodhound + Labrador = Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly

Malamute + Pointer = Moot Point, owned by ... oh, well, it doesn't matter anyway

Collie + Malamute = Commute, a dog that travels to work

Deerhound + Terrier = Derriere, a dog that's true to the end

Cocker Spaniel + Rottweiller = Cockrot, the perfect puppy for that philandering ex-husband

Bull Terrier + Shitzu = Bullshitz, a gregarious but unreliable breed

* To submit your joke to us: Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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