October 17, 2010

PSA National Competition

Today I went to Columbus to watch the PSA National with some friends.  It was the highest level obedience and protection work, so it was very interesting.  In the morning, the bleachers were in the shade and it was quite cool.  By noon, we were roasting.  Later, we moved to the shaded part of the bleachers and were comfortable :-)

We weren't super close, so my little point and shoot camera was working at it's distance limits.  The obedience photos were taken into the sun, so the lighting isn't the best.  But I think these will show enough to help explain what was going on.

The first exercise, the handler had to toss an unusual object over the A-frame. The dog was supposed to go over the A-frame, get the object, then return the item by going back over the A-frame and to the handler. I don't know what the object was (mid-air below) but it was heavy, possibly metal and dissapeared in the grass.  Only two dogs found it and brought it back.  One dog couldn't find it, so he went under the A-frame and got a pumpkin to retrieve!

Next exercise was heeling past distractions, including a baby pool full of water and fake ducks and LOTS of objects all over the ground (easier to see in other photos below).

Next was the figure 8.  The helpers in the bite suits were the "posts" the dog and handler had to heel around in a figure 8 pattern (while the decoys were yelling to each other and tossing tennis balls back and forth).

After the figure 8, the handler cued the dog into a down without the handler stopping or slowing down. The handler then went out of sight behind the hay bales. While the handler was out of site, one of the decoys tried to feed the dog a cheeseburger. Two took it, (one swallowed it whole!) the rest refused as they were supposed to.

After the food refusal, the handler stepped into view and while facing away from the dog, called the dog to heel position.

Then the handler sent the dog up onto the raised platform (something most had trouble with) and then stepped out of sight behind the white fence.  While out of sight, the handler called out the position changes (sit- down- sit) or (down - sit - down) while a helper walked around the dog.

Finally was a multi-part exercise involving a tunnel, jump and four helpers. The handler left the dog on a stay where shown below and walked to the other side of the exercise area. While on the stay, two helpers got into a yelling/shoving argument (that did cause one dog to break the stay to run over and bite one of them- a non-qualifying action).  For the rest of the dogs that stayed, the handler called the dog over the jump while two helpers shook scarecrow decorations on either side of it.

The dog was supposed to lie down on cue on the back side of the jump (only a few did).  Then the handler completed the recall past two more decoys, one of which poured water on the dog with a turkey decoration while making gobbling noises.

Next was another distance control exercise.  The handler sent the dog through the tunnel, over a jump and into a guard (bark and hold, not a bite).

After the jump, the dog was supposed to guard one of the helpers.  But it wasn't just a stationary guard, the helper started walking backward and the handler cued the dog to "transport", meaning a moving guard.  This really threw several of the dogs. While the dog was busy with the moving helper, the other helper "attacked" the dog while yelling and dumping water on the dog.

After lunch was the protection work. The first exercise involved the helper ducking into the shelter through a maze of hay bales.

Some of the dogs circled the shelter a few times before finding the entry

Once inside, the helper had several items he tossed at the dog and then while the dog was attached he busted through the hay bale wall.

Once outside, he continued to fight with the dog for awhile till the judge told him to stop and the handler called the dog off.

For the next exercise, a helper peeked out for a moment from behind a wall (left side of photo below) and the handler sent the dog after him.

As soon as the dog came around the wall, the helper held several items out in front of him as a barrier.  Some of the dogs were held off for a few seconds by these items

Other dogs weren't slowed down at all!

After a brief pause in the action when the handler called the dog off, the helper again "attacked" the dog and again the dog had to be called off after the helper stopped moving. 

The last exercise had 2 parts. The first part, had the handler send the dog for a bite.  (There was another helper positioned an equal distance away behind the dog/handler.)

After a brief fight, the handler called the dog off and sent the dog the opposite direction to a running decoy that shot a very loud gun (real gun maybe?) except that the dog had to be called off BEFORE biting that running guy. You can still see the smoke from the gun shot in some of these photos.

Not all the dogs listened to the call off

After the last dog, the judge said the awards would follow and that everyone "had to stay because if they tried to leave, there were several dogs that could be sent to bring you back, and not all of them were good on the call off" LOL

We had to leave so we "risked it" :-) But this is what the teams were competing for, along with titles or "legs" toward titles.

I really enjoy seeing the dogs work through the challenges and show amazing skills and control.

I ended the day by observing a "Leash Reactive Dog" class at Posidog training center in Columbus.  A REALLY great, all reward-based class that is having wonderful results for many reactive dogs.