Advanced Training and Competing for Fun

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • Getting ready for competitions
  • Shooting for a good manners award
  • Competing in a variety of shows and athletic events
  • Making versatility a priority for your Dachshund

Wow! It turns out that your Dachshund is great at this training stuff (see Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training). He loves to learn new tricks, and the two of you have great chemistry when it comes to training sessions and obedience. Maybe you have a champion in the making. If you want something else to do in your spare time that includes your Dachshund, why not consider a little friendly competition?

The more you explore dog competitions, the more you may be surprised at how endless your options are. You can travel the dog show circuit, compete in traditional obedience competition — or its new, easier version called Rally — and participate in field trials, agility trials, and earthdog tests. Other fun events include canine freestyle, tracking, and just plain showing off in front of your friends! And for the truly well-rounded Dachshund (and I don’t mean chubby), a versatility award is perhaps the ultimate accomplishment.

But how do you get from interested dog-human team to champion dog-human team? First, you train. This chapter takes you through the process and outlines the many competitive and fun options you have.

Preparing for Competition

If a particular dog sport or area of competition interests you, the first thing you can do to prepare is to attend some events where the sport or competition is featured. Your local all-breed dog club or your regional breed club probably will have information about the event(s) that interests you. Make a call. You also can look on the American Kennel Club Web site for dog events near you. Search simultaneously by area of interest and by state at www.akc.org/events/search.
When you watch your competition of choice, you’ll probably come up with a lot of questions about how it works. You can check out the section about your area of interest in this chapter and do some research online by looking at the Web sites of clubs that sponsor the event — like the AKC, the UKC, or clubs specifically dedicated to your sport of choice. You also can look for books devoted to your area of interest, which will tell you how to get started.
Depending on where you live, you may also be able to take a class that will help you and your Dachshund train for events. Because agility is so popular right now, a lot of local trainers offer agility training classes. You can search for classes that focus on conformation shows, obedience competition, and training for the Canine Good Citizen test.

Remember

A basic obedience background is essential for any canine sport, so be sure your dog at least knows the basics (see Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training). One good place to start? Taking the Canine Good Citizen test. See the following section for details.

Taking the Canine Good Citizen Test

The Canine Good Citizen test is an exam that proves a dog has basic good manners and can act like a good citizen in public. The purpose of the test is to encourage all dog owners to teach their pets good manners and proper behavior. If every dog possessed the skills necessary to pass this test, surely the vast numbers of dogs abandoned to animal shelters would decrease, as would the cases of dog-related injuries. Any breed and any mixed breed of dog may take the test and earn the award. Unlike many other types of canine competitions where purebred status is a must, the Canine Good Citizen test is an equal-opportunity test — even if your Dachsie has a little, say, Schnauzer blood or Beagle blood or something else.
You can train your Dachshund for the CGC test at home (although training in a class may be easier). Knowledgeable members of local dog clubs, 4-H clubs, or other clubs that promote the well being of our canine friends usually administer the test. It involves ten individual tests, each determining how well your Dachshund can perform according to basic good manners:

Accepting a friendly stranger. Your Dachshund must remain quiet and well behaved when a friendly but unknown person approaches, speaks to you, and shakes your hand. While you and the stranger talk pleasantly, your Dachshund must stay next to you and not show any sign of guarding you, of shyness, or of moving toward the stranger (barking and jumping up on the person are no-nos).

Sitting politely for petting. In this test, your Dachshund must sit at your side while someone he doesn’t know approaches and pets him on the head and body. The stranger must then walk behind and around you and your Dachshund. Your Dachshund must not act shy, aggressive, or resentful toward the stranger. Again, no barking and jumping! (Don’t stop reading yet; your Dachsie really can do this!)

Accepting grooming. The purpose of this test is to show that your Dachshund can be safely and easily examined and handled by a stranger, such as a vet, groomer, or friend. The evaluator combs or brushes your Dachshund and gently examines his ears and each front foot. Your Dachshund must accept such handling without acting shy or aggressive.

Controlling your dog for a walk on a loose leash. You must demonstrate your control over your Dachshund for this test. Walk with him on either side of you on a loose leash — meaning no pulling on the leash for either of you. During your walk, you must make one left turn, one right turn, one about turn (which is turning around and going back the way you came), one stop during the middle of the test, and another stop at the end. Your Dachshund must stay in a good heel and may either sit or stand during the stops.

Walking through a crowd. Your Dachshund must demonstrate his self control in a public place for this test. You and your Dachshund must walk around and by at least three people, during which time your Dachshund may display interest but not excitement, shyness, or resentment. You may direct, encourage, and/or praise your Dachshund during this test, but he must not pull on the leash and must remain at your side.

Sit and Down on cue while staying in place. This test determines your Dachshund’s knowledge of basic commands. Ask your Dachshund to sit and to lie down. You may make each command more than once and may use more than one word. (You can include your Dachshund’s name in the command, for example, or add words of encouragement.) Next, you must ask him to stay, after which you walk down a 20-foot line away from him. During this walk, he must stay in place, although he can change position (move from lying down to sitting, for example).

Coming when called. Your Dachshund must demonstrate his understanding of “Come” (see Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training). In this test, you must walk 10 feet from your Dachshund, with or without saying “Stay.” Turn to face your Dachshund and call him to you. He must come when called.

Reacting properly to another dog. For this test, your Dachshund must demonstrate his good manners around another dog. No, really, stop laughing! I’m serious. With your Dachshund on a leash, you must approach another handler with another dog on a leash, standing approximately 10 yards away. You and the other handler must stop, shake hands, talk pleasantly, and then continue past each other for 5 yards. Both dogs should show casual interest in each other but shouldn’t leave their respective handlers’ sides and shouldn’t act shy or aggressive (or bark, roughhouse, or growl).

Handling distractions. Distractions are a part of life, and in this test, your Dachshund demonstrates how confidently he can handle them. The evaluator sets up some common distractions, such as a book being dropped to the floor or a jogger running by. Your Dachshund must show some natural curiosity in, and may even appear startled by, the distraction. But he must not act aggressive or fearful, try to run away, or bark at the distraction.

– Staying calm during supervised separation. The last test determines how well your Dachshund can behave when you aren’t around to influence him. The evaluator says something to the effect of “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and you agree. Hand the leash to the evaluator and walk out of sight. The evaluator holds your Dachshund’s leash for 3 minutes. Your Dachshund needn’t maintain a Sit or Down position, but he shouldn’t bark excessively, whine and cry, howl, pace, or act very nervous. Slight agitation is acceptable, because your Dachshund really has no idea where you went, and he loves you so!

During the CGC test, you have one chance at each test. If you fail, better luck next time. You can attempt the test again at a later date. Just keep practicing! Some of the sections are harder for Dachshunds than others, but many Dachshunds have earned their Canine Good Citizen awards, and yours can, too. It’s a wonderful and significant accomplishment, and the training will make your Dachsie a better companion. Stick with your daily training sessions, and remember: Patience is a virtue. After your Dachshund has his CGC, why not aim even higher?

Showing Your Dachshund: Isn’t She Lovely!

Maybe you think you have the most beautiful Dachshund you’ve ever seen (like the owner of the one in Figure 15-1). You may be right! If your Dachshund is very close to the breed standard (see Chapter Defining the Dashing Dachshund) — especially if he has champions in his pedigree — he may do well in and sincerely enjoy a conformation dog show.
A conformation dog show is a dog show in which a trained judge analyzes each dog’s conformation to determine which dog most closely matches the written breed standard. The dog the judge deems closest to perfection should be the winner.

Remember

Show dogs can’t be spayed or neutered. The basic purpose of dog shows is to evaluate breeding stock. The best breeding specimens earn a championship, meaning they can put “Ch” before their registered names as a title. If your Dachshund is spayed or neutered, he can’t compete in conformation shows unless they’re informal (and non-title-earning) fun matches.

If you still want to pursue this exciting but extremely competitive sport, your dog must be registered with a purebred dog registry like the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC). You can find out more information about AKC conformation shows at www.akc.org/events/conformation/index.cfm. For more about UKC conformation shows, head to www.ukcdogs.com/conformation.htm.
Figure 15-1: Maybe your lovely Dachshund could be a show dog. (Photo courtesy of Gail Painter.)

Shining in Obedience Competitions: Surprise ’em All!

Maybe beauty contests aren’t your kind of thing. Or perhaps your Dachshund doesn’t particularly like to sit still and look pretty. But if he has a particular knack for basic obedience cues and you’re great at teaching them (see Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training), obedience competition or the less-competitive sport called Rally may be for you. In Rally, dogs and their handlers (that’s you) compete on a course designed by the judge. The judge tells you where to start, and you and your Dachshund move along at your own speed through 10 to 20 stations. Each station has instructions about what you have to do to move on — such as stopping and sitting, doing a U-turn in a particular direction, weaving around cones or posts, having the dog stay while you walk around him in a circle, even jumping over hurdles. You can talk to your dog all you want to try to motivate him to do the right thing. It’s fun!
At a Rally trial, your dog has the potential to win honors for first, second, third, fourth, and qualifying prizes, and he can also earn titles: Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced (RA), Rally Excellent (RE), Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE), and more. For more information on the requirements for earning titles and all the rules and regulations for Rally, look to www.akc.org/events/rally/index.cfm.
The point of more formal obedience trials is to show that your Dachshund has learned how to be a well-mannered and useful companion. But he must prove it in a much more competitive and rigorous way than in either the Canine Good Citizen test or a Rally trial. Advanced obedience work includes tests of tracking ability — a Dachshund specialty. (These tests are hard work, so both you and your Dachshund should be in good shape.)
To attain an obedience title, your Dachshund must earn over half the points in each specified exercise under three different judges at licensed or member obedience trials. The titles you can earn in obedience competition are as follows:
  • Companion Dog (CD)
  • Companion Dog Excellent (CDX)
  • Utility Dog (UD)
  • Utility Dog Excellent (UDX)
  • Obedience Trial Champion (OTCh.)
  • Tracking Dog (TD)
  • Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)
  • Variable Surface Tracker (VST)
  • Champion Tracker (CT)
To discover more about AKC obedience rules and for more information on how to get started, look to www.akc.org/events/obedience/index.cfm. For information on obedience through the UKC, head to www.ukcdogs.com/obedience.htm.
I also recommend that you attend an AKC- or UKC-sanctioned obedience competition to see how it works, or attend less-formal obedience events sponsored by your local dog club.

Remember

Spayed or neutered dogs may participate in both Rally and obedience trials if they’re registered with the appropriate organization. Some less-formal obedience events by local clubs may not require any registration. However, puppies less than 6 months of age, females in heat, and lame, deaf, or blind dogs may not compete. Dogs that attack other dogs or appear dangerous or overly aggressive will be disqualified.

Canine Freestyle for Dramatic Dachshunds

If your Dachshund is better at funny tricks and garnering appreciative applause than executing commands with extreme precision, and if you’re a music lover with a relative amount of natural grace, the two of you may love to compete in canine freestyle — a wonderful event that combines obedience moves with choreography. You pick the song, you make up the moves, and then you and your Dachshund perform for the crowd . . . and maybe even earn titles!
You should attend a few events to see what it’s all about. You also can find out more from the Canine Freestyle Federation (www.canine-freestyle.org) and the World Canine Freestyle Organization, Inc. (www.wordcaninefreestyle.org). Because you have the music in you!

Competing in Field Trials: A Dachshund’s Destiny

Dachshunds are one of only a handful of breeds eligible to participate in field trials. The purpose of field trials is to give breeds designed for field work the opportunity to exercise their natural abilities — their penchant for hunting, following a scent, and cornering vermin.
Dachshund field trials are different from field trials for other dogs, like retrievers. Dachshunds are best at tracking small game through dense brush and alerting hunters to the location of the game. In a Dachsie field trial, you reenact this scenario under controlled conditions (no wildlife gets hurt). Dachshund field trials are based on Brace Beagle field trials, in which a pair, or brace, of dogs track a rabbit.
Field trials usually are held in a fenced area so the Dachshunds can’t escape or become lost. Some field trials divide the male and female Dachshund competitions; others don’t. The following list explains how the contest begins and ends:

1. A Field Marshall calls each brace to attention.

2. Volunteer brush beaters scare up a rabbit, and whoever sees the rabbit first shouts, “Tally Ho!”

3. After the rabbit has been spotted and has scurried away, the Dachshunds are brought to the place where the rabbit was spotted.

4. Each handler encourages his or her Dachshund to find the line, or scent, of the rabbit.

5. As soon as the Dachshund catches the scent, the handler releases the Dachshund; he or she must then stop giving instructions but may follow the dog — behind the judges only.

6. When the judges have seen enough to judge the Dachshund’s ability to follow the scent with persistence and enthusiasm, they ask the handler to pick up the dog.

The ultimate goal of field trials, beyond having a great time, is to earn enough points for the title Field Champion (FC). Versatile Dachshunds that attain this title and are Champions of Record in conformation are considered dual champions. These same Dachshunds that also earn an obedience championship are considered triple champions. (See the section at the end of this chapter for more on versatility.)
If you’re interested, you should visit a field trial or two to see what it’s all about. Ask the people running their Dachshunds how you can train your Dachshund for competition. Usually, you’ll meet friendly people and get plenty of great advice. To find a field trial in your area and to discover more about AKC field trials, check out this site: www.akc.org/events/field_trials/dachshunds/index.cfm. You also can call your local dog club for more info.

Tracking tests for sniff-happy hounds

If your Dachshund loves to follow a scent (and what Dachshund doesn’t?), consider tracking. Tracking is a fun, addictive, outdoorsy sport, a sort of competitive form of canine search and rescue. Your Dachshund can earn tracking titles, and you’ll have fun watching him use his natural nasal abilities. For more information on AKC-sponsored tracking events, check out www.akc.org/events/tracking/index.cfm.

Competing in Agility Trials: Poetry in Motion

Agility is hot these days because everyone loves to watch it. Who can resist dogs jumping through hoops, running over teeter-totters, and tunneling through chutes all on one fast-paced obstacle course? The dogs can’t resist it, either. If your Dachshund is athletic and you think he’d enjoy agility, consider training him for agility work. Many local trainers offer agility classes because it’s just so fun.

Remember

Agility helps both you and your Dachshund stay in great shape. It’s also the perfect outlet for your little performer. Any dog may participate in an agility trial, whether or not it’s registered or spayed/neutered.

Warning!

Some Dachshund owners may be nervous about training their Dachshunds to do agility because of the jumping. Luckily, jumps are adjusted for the height of the dog, so a healthy, athletic Dachshund at his ideal weight should have no problem with the jumps. However, if your Dachshund has had back problems before, or you believe that he’s at risk for disk disease (see Chapter Handling Dachshund Health Problems), stick to obedience or another less stressful activity.

Dogs can earn a number of titles in agility competition, each more difficult to achieve than the one before:
  • Novice Agility (NA)
  • Open Agility (OA)
  • Agility Excellent (AX)
  • Master Agility Excellent (MX)
  • Master Agility Champion (MACH)
The obstacle course in an agility trial varies depending on the level of competition, but all levels include contact obstacles with certain areas a dog must touch when going through. Dogs must achieve the obstacle course in a set amount of time (also depending on the level of competition) and must successfully maneuver on, in, over, or through each obstacle. The following list details some of the obstacles used in agility events:

The A-frame: Your Dachshund must go up one panel of the A-frame and go down the other panel after touching the contact zone, in whatever direction the judge orders.

  The dog walk: Your Dachshund must go up one ramp, cross a center section, and go down the other ramp after touching both contact zones, in whatever order the judge specifies.

The seesaw: Your Dachshund must ascend a plank, cause it to seesaw the other way, and then descend, waiting on the opposite side to touch the ground before getting off — after touching the contact zone, of course.

The pause table: Your Dachshund must jump onto a table, pause for five seconds in a Sit or Down position (according to what the judge decrees), and then dismount.

The open tunnel: A flexible tube must be positioned so that your Dachshund can’t see the end of the tunnel when he enters. He must go in one end of the tunnel (the one the judge indicates), go through the tunnel, and come out the other side.

The closed tunnel: This tunnel has a rigid entrance connected to a soft chute. Your Dachshund must enter the tunnel and exit through the chute.

The weave poles: Your Dachshund must go between the first two poles from right to left, move from left to right between the next poles, move from right to left between the next poles, and so on.

The single bar jumps: Your Dachshund must jump over a set of bars without knocking off the top one, in the direction the judge specifies.

The panel jump: Your Dachshund must jump over a top board without knocking it off, in the direction the judge specifies.

Other single jumps: Courses can include other types of single jumps for your Dachshund to jump over.

The double bar jump: Your Dachshund must jump over two top bars without knocking off either one, in whatever direction the judge specifies.

The triple bar jump: Your Dachshund must jump over three bars of gradually increasing heights without knocking off any, in whatever direction the judge specifies.

The tire jump (or circle jump): Your Dachshund must jump through a tire opening in the direction the judge specifies.

The window jump: Your Dachshund must jump through a window opening in the direction the judge specifies.

The broad jump: Your Dachshund must jump over a series of obstacles of varying heights without touching them. He must enter between marker poles placed near the front and exit between marker poles placed near the back.

Agility is so much fun that it may become an every-weekend activity for you and your Dachshund. Why not? Your Dachshund would rather spend his weekends playing with you than doing just about anything else. To find out more about AKC-sponsored agility events, look to the following site: www.akc.org/events/agility/index.cfm. To find out more about UKC-sponsored agility events, check out www.ukcdogs.com/Agility.htm. You also can call your local dog club for agility information.

Competing in Earthdog Tests: Born to Burrow

Bottom line: Dachshunds love to dig. But you already know that. If yours is a digger extraordinaire, he may have the right stuff for earthdog tests or den trials. Most Dachshunds do. Earthdog tests are a lot of fun, and any AKC-registered Dachshund (or Terrier) 6 months of age or older may participate, including spayed and neutered dogs. Den trials are similar but sponsored by the American Working Terrier Association (AWTA), or a local group. Many Dachshunds need minimal training to excel in this sport — it’s in your Dachsie’s genes.
In an earthdog test, a den is set up by digging a trench and tunnel, placing a 9-inch x 9-inch wood liner in the trench, and covering it with earth. The tunnel and trench have certain twists and turns, as required by the level of competition, and at the end of the tunnel are bars separating a caged rat from the dog (don’t worry, the rat doesn’t get hurt). The tunnel can be opened at the end so you can lift your Dachshund out when he’s finished. Tunnels for the higher levels of competition have false exits, false entrances, and false scented dens.
To start the competition, your Dachshund is released and must enter the specially constructed tunnel, following it through to the end where the rat is caged. He must bark or scratch at the cage, or work the quarry, for a specified amount of time.

Tip

Beginners can start out with the Introduction to Quarry test (not required for more advanced levels of competition). This test requires that your dog get to the rat within two minutes and work the quarry continuously for at least 30 seconds. This test can help you determine whether your Dachshund is a natural at earthdog tests.

More advanced levels of competition and titles are as follows:

Junior Earthdog (JE): For this test, you must release your Dachshund 10 feet from the den entrance. He has 30 seconds to reach the rat from the time he’s released, and then he must work the quarry, staying within 12 inches of it, continuously for 30 seconds. Tunnels for this level of competition are 30 feet long with three 90-degree turns.

Senior Earthdog (SE): For this test, you must release your Dachshund 20 feet from the den entrance. He has 90 seconds to reach the quarry from the time he’s released, and he must work the quarry continuously for 90 seconds. Tunnels for this level of competition are 30 feet long with three 90-degree turns, but they also include a 7-foot false exit and a false den consisting of a 4-foot side tunnel with no exit and a heavily scented bedding area with no rat.

Master Earthdog (ME): For this test, two dogs work together. You must release your dog a specified distance from the real den entrance. However, the den entrance is blocked, and a false den entrance is available, so part of the test is to see if your dog can find the real den entrance and bark to be let in. Dogs that bark at the false den don’t qualify for this title. The first dog to reach the real den is temporarily removed so the second dog can have a chance to find it, too.

The first dog is then allowed in the tunnel and must reach the quarry within 90 seconds and work the quarry for 90 seconds. While the dog is working the quarry, the judge simulates digging sounds on the top of the den with a piece of wood for 30 seconds; the dog shouldn’t be distracted by this noise. The first dog is then removed, and the second dog is given his turn.

The tunnel for this test is the same as the tunnel for the Senior test except for the blocked entrance. A 20-foot scent line leads to the entrance, and the false entrance is placed somewhere along the scent line. Also, within the tunnel is an 18-inch section that narrows to a 6-inch passageway, and the tunnel contains a suspended PVC pipe obstacle, 6 inches in diameter, with 9 inches on each side of the pipe’s center line.

To find out more about AKC-sponsored earthdog events, look to www.akc.org/events/earthdog/index.cfm. To get the scoop on AWTA Den Trials, head to www.dirt-dog.com/awta/index.cfm. You also can call your local dog club to see if you can discover more about other nearby opportunities.

Becoming a Versatile Dachshund

Dachshund breeders, like many other breeders, are becoming increasingly insistent that Dachshunds be beautiful and healthy, show stoppers and athletes, and always able to perform the functions for which they were originally bred. In an attempt to encourage versatility rather than overspecialization, the Dachshund Club of America has established a versatility program that awards a Versatility Certificate (VC) to Dachshunds that distinguish themselves in several areas.

Remember

To earn a VC, a Dachshund must have 18 or more VC points obtained from a conformation show and at least three of the following five groups:

– Field trials

– Obedience (including the Canine Good Citizen award, which is a requirement for a VC certificate and equals one point)

– Rally

– Agility

– Earthdog or den trials

– Tracking

Depending on the titles or points earned in each group, a Dachshund earns varying numbers of VC points. A triple champion (championships in conformation, field trials, and obedience) automatically qualifies for a VC.

Dachsie Moxie

A Versatility Certificate is a great accomplishment. It encourages well-rounded Dachshunds, and the hope is that breeders will avoid breeding just for looks, field abilities, or obedience skill. The more wide-ranging a dog’s abilities, the healthier and stronger he tends to be. Plus, a Dachshund with a variety of important jobs is a busy, happy, challenged Dachshund.

For a fantastic publication from the Dachshund Club of America that features information about the VC and training for all the different areas, check out www.dachshund-dca.org/Media/VersatilityCert.-2007.pdf. (You have to be able to read a .pdf file on your computer, but free software allows this.)
by Eve Adamson

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