Before he was even born my plan for Bullet was Schutzhund. (In short, Schutzhund is a three-phased sport that was originally designed to show the versatility of a working dog and determine its breed worthiness. It includes tracking, obedience and protection.) As a puppy I focused on playing tug games, teaching him to track and obedience. Unfortunately you need a club for this sport unless you have access to your own personal decoy. I didn't. At that point I was still unsure of which club to join but I still prepared.
When Bullet was about a year old I began my search in earnest. Most of the clubs in Ontario were off the table immediately based on their locations and training times. Other clubs never got back to me when I contacted them about visiting on a training day. Some clubs weren't accepting new members as they were at capacity, or they plain just didn't go out of their way to welcome an unknown person.
Then there are clubs that use a very different training style than I do, and they expect all their members to train a certain way. That goes against my very nature and I will not do it. Advice is one thing, but being told you have to do it one way? Willingly handing someone else the power to correct MY dog? No. Never. I like my dog and am not willing to starve, deprive or hurt him for points in a sport. Not to mention that I feel it's entirely possible to train positively and get an impressive, high-scoring performance without resorting to those methods. (I plan on proving that.) Oh, and have I mentioned that I like to do things my way? :)
When I train, my goal is always excellence, but I will not compromise the relationship I have with my dog. Bullet is my friend and companion first of all, we train for the joy of it.
Anyway... I finally found a club I was comfortable with full of people I genuinely liked. Yay! Bullet's obedience helped us make an impression as it showed them I was serious.
We were accepted as members in September 2006 and got our BH in October 2006. Our training progressed and we trialed at a DVG club one year later and got our IPO 1.
Around that time the helper who had done most of Bullet's bitework training was injured and it was unknown if he'd ever be able to decoy again. Bullet's training became inconsistent and it started to show in his performance. At that point, as hard as the decision was, I decided to take a break from the sport.
We were nearly back at square one. The upside was that I now had schutzhund friends and acquaintances. I had some experience. I had titled in the sport.
Enter the creation of FRONTIER Working Dog Club, a new DVG club in Ontario.
As strong individuals we may not always agree on the small details but our core values are the same. We all love our dogs dearly, they are family members first.
Our training methods reflect this.
We start with a clear goal in mind and take our time building the best possible foundation. We listen to our dogs and treat them as the individuals they are. We strive to train as positively as possible, to correct as little as possible, to be fair, kind, honest and creative with our K9 partners.
And so the schutzhund journey Bullet and I are taking together continues. It truly is the best game in the world when you have a dog at your side who loves it as much as you do!