How a Banksia Park Schnoodle is dominating dog sports competitions…
One pure-white, long-haired Schnoodle has been strutting her stuff. Not just down at the local park, but on the national stage! This super smart Schnoodle – appropriately named Shazam – has been dominating the dog sports of Obedience and Trick Training. She has quickly made her way through competition levels; even achieving the Ultimate Obedience Grand Champion title.
(Scroll down below to see Shazam’s super cool trick videos.)
Dog sports include a wide variety of activities, obstacles and competitions for dogs but also their owners/handlers to participate in. They are designed to challenge a dog both mentally and physically as well as strengthen the canine-human bond. This fun and positive stimulation not only improves their overall wellbeing but helps create positive interactions with other people and paw-pals.
If you’d love your puppy/dog to start obedience training or dog sports but not sure where to start, Shazam’s Mum, Sylvia shares her Top 5 Tips, below. To lay a great foundation for your puppy/dog’s obedience we also recommend Ian the Dog Trainer who has decades of experience as a Dog Trainer and Behavioural Consultant.
Shazam’s mum, Sylvia, has kindly taken the time to answer our questions and share with us some amazing information and fun videos:
We are very proud of Shazam’s elite level competition achievements and both of your dedication to dog obedience training…
-How did you and Shazam get into the Obedience/Trick sport and competition?
Shazam is my third dog I have competed with in Obedience. My first dog (Labradoodle) had big dominance aggression issues. Not the loving companion I had imagined. I needed help, that is why I started going to a local Obedience club. One thing led to another and I started competing. I was able to get her to Obedience Champion, which was the highest title at that time. I was hooked. She taught me so much, including that you don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need! She really changed my life. She enriched it so much and gave me a new passion.
-What are the categories in an Obedience Competition?
Community Companion Dog (CCD). The only level where the dog is permitted to be on lead except for the recall exercise. This level is optional and you are allowed to go straight into competing in CD.
Companion Dog (CD)
Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)
Utility Dog (UD)
Utility Dog Excellent (UDX)
Each of the above require 3 passes at each level with at least 170 points out of the maximum 200 (except in CCD which is out of 100 and you need 70+).
Obedience Champion (OC) can be obtained after you achieve UD. Then you need a further 5 passes in UD of at least 185 points. An alternate route is if you have obtained UDX you can get a further 3 passes in UDX of at least 185.
Obedience Grand Champion (O.GR.CH) is gained once you are both an Obedience Champion and obtained have obtained your UDX title. Then you need a further 5 UDX passes of at least 185 points.
-Can you list Shazam’s achievements/records?
There are so many. I will only list the ones that mean the most to me.
Shazam skipped CCD and went straight into CD. She got 3 passes in a row of, 200, 199 and 199. Not sure that has ever been done before.
We gained our UD title in one weekend. Again, not sure that has ever been done before.
We competed in UD and UDX at the same time as an option to see which would get her OC quickest. Everyone said that you could not compete at both levels at the same time as a dog could not do the different exercises required at the same time. Too confusing they said. I took up that challenge and showed it could be done. The first time getting 198 and 197 in the same trial. So straight out of the UD ring into the UDX ring. Never been done before.
Shazam was very consistent and obtained her O.GR.CH within one year at the tender age of 3. Not sure that has ever been done before either.
To show how elite this title is, it was introduced in 2011. My second Obedience Dog was the first to gain the title in Victoria. Shazam was the 7th and last in Victoria. I think that shows how difficult it is to achieve.
Every time Shazam gained a pass she achieved a first place.
At Obedience trials, they award ‘Best In Trial’ to the highest scoring dog overall categories. All except one time when Shazam passed she achieved Best In Trial.
She trialled over 2 financial years and obtained Victorian Top Obedience Dog of the Year awards in both.
An interstate judge had judged her in both UD and UDX on the same day. At presentation, he said, “I have never judged a better dog and I have been judging for over 30 years”.
There have been many more great things I could mention but I think that is enough showing off.
-How much time and dedication goes into training for an elite event?
A lot. How much? It depends what challenges each dog presents and how you are able to overcome them. I have never trained for lengthy periods. A short but effective training session is much more fun for my dog and me. It usually is full of games targeted at what I am working on at any particular time. I used to call myself a TV commercial trainer. I trained during the TV commercials.
I worked full time until Shazam was 2 years old so time was always tight. Most of that time I had 3 dogs. You have to prioritise and have a goal for each session.
Planning is key. Using ‘Post It’ notes helps many people. Write down 2 or 3 things you are going to do next. Eg. Spin in front to right, then left. Lure with food. As they complete the action mark it with a marker word like ‘yes’ and then release the food. Do again the same while the dog still thinks you have food in your hand. When the action is complete mark with ‘yes’ and gives the treat. The Post It would simply say spin right then left with a lure. Repeat without a lure. The rest of the explanation above is the same with any trick. Do trick/action, mark then treat. First time with food lure in hand. Second time with fake food, but still mark and treat. Once they know the trick/action you put a cue word to it. So you may say ‘spin’ then mark ‘yes’ and reward when they have done it.
-In your opinion, are there characteristics of certain dog breeds that lend themselves favourably to dog obedience training, or do you feel that any dog and breed can be trained successfully with the right tools and tricks?
Absolutely any dog and any breed can enjoy training and succeed, no matter what ‘success’ means to you. Tricks can be done by puppies as young as 8 weeks and also enjoyed by our more senior dogs. Tricks allow a bond to develop that enriches both the dog and owner. Seeing what your dog can do for you and how much you both enjoy it is priceless. The more your dog learns, the easier it is, and the more eager they are to learn more. In effect, they learn to learn.
-What have been the positives you and Shazam have gained from training and competing together?
She focuses on me above all else. She wants to be with me, not go sniff, go lunge at other dogs, or jump on any stranger that comes close. 100% reliable off leash. She values me as I do her.
She also has good manners at home. No counter surfing or stealing food from the coffee table. Treat pots are throughout my house so they are close at hand for training. She could steal these treat but she does not. Even if I am not at home. She can be calm while I am busy doing other things. My dogs learn to take turns. Work with one and the others patiently wait for their turn. One can race to a ball while others wait and then it’s another’s turn etc.
-Have there been any negatives?
I don’t get frustrated with my dogs. If things aren’t going well I try to look for what I can do differently to allow my dog to understand what I want. Dogs generally will not disobey on purpose. So it is my job to often break things down into easier steps where the dog gets wins (and treats for them) so they want to stay engaged with you.
I find it very difficult to see dogs be mistreated sometimes just because they are misunderstood, but they get blamed as a ‘bad dog’, a ‘stupid’ dog, or much worse.
-What would be your top 5 tips to help a puppy/dog owner starting out in obedience/trick training?
1. Always have fun.
2. Never blame the dog. Sort out how you need to work with them.
3. If you are new to training, get into a good class. Go and watch what they do without your dog first. If they do not use methods you agree with, go somewhere else. Many councils provide training. These are run by volunteers. Check them out, but sometimes paying for an Obedience or Trick class is worthwhile. Trust your gut.
4. For Tricks and to a lesser degree Obedience, Youtube is amazing. Plenty of step by step Tricks training can be found. Again, pay attention that they are only using positive reinforcement methods.
5. Consider private lessons. Be sure to ask what training methods they adopt, as well as asking what their training plan would be for your dog. They should ask for a history of your dog’s behaviours and what they have already been trained in order to come up with an individual plan.
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