Bear’s New Duds: A Carting Harness Review

I THINK it's on correctly...

Something very special came in the mail this week…Bear’s carting harness!!!!

 

After much internet searching I decided on a Nylon Siwash Carting Harness from Dog Works in Tennessee, USA. I placed my order on October 5th and it came on the 25th which means it made pretty good time, considering it had to cross the border.

I do my fair share of mail order shopping and I’m thrilled with my Dog Works experience. The order was timely, correct and came wrapped in plastic inside the sipping box. Shipping to Canada was reasonable (around $9USD) and I did not have to pay duty on the order. Packed in the box with the harness, came a handout on fitting your harness, a guide for how to tell if it’s too big or too small. There was also a note about their hassle free exchange policy which means you send it back with $7.50 and they’ll send you a new one. In my opinion, having to pay the shipping does not make it ‘hassle free’ but paying less than $20 for a new harness is a lot better than paying the full price for a brand new one.

Like many dog owners, I have a large collection of dog hardware and with a large dog, I have my share of well made stuff and not so well made stuff. Compared to my entire collection, the craftsmanship on this harness is pretty darned good:

There is a D-ring on the front of the harness for leash clipping.

The padding on the yoke of the harness is nice, fuzzy and soft

There are handy dandy little strap clips on the adjustable girths to keep wayward webbing out of the way.

All joints are stitched multiple times!

The company name, website and phone number are sewn right onto the harness so you know who to call when you have issues or want to order another harness.

The only teeny tiny complaint that I have is that the all the hardware is plastic, except for the brass clips on either end of the traces. That being said, I understand that brass or nickel hardware is costly and that I could get all the brass hardware a girl could want on the Dog Works Varsity Leather Harness which is only a little more than my nylon harness ($215.50 more, to be exact).

Now…to finish that cart next week!

Making a Cart – Part Two: Wheels on a Budget!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about our cart building progress. This weekend I was finally able to take some decent photos! I just added the last coat of stain to the cart boards and put the wheels back together which means by next weekend, I should be able to assemble the cart.

Last month I visited a great store in Winnipeg called Casterland that has everything from cart wheels to chair casters and anything else that rolls. They had a really nice BMX-style wheels with a pneumatic tire and plastic spokes but the cost was nearly $40 per wheel! I’m not sure about you, but $80 for wheels for a cart that may or may not ever be used for competition sounded ridiculous to me…and so I put my thinking cap on…

What I needed was a bicycle wheel. After a quick online search I decided that a new wheel would also be cost prohibitive but then I got to thinking about how the wheels on a used childs bike would be just perfect! I had a look on our local buy/sell site and found a used boys bike with 20 inch tires for $20!

I brought the bike home and took off the wheels but soon realised that the gears on the rear wheel were impossible to remove. Another quick online search told me that I needed a special tool (apparently everything on a bike needs a special tool). Since I don’t have that tool or any friends with that tool, I took the wheel down to A & L, the local bike shop. The nice young man there took the gear off for me in about 10 seconds for free!

Next, I wanted to recondition the wheel as there was some rust showing and scratching/wear from the brake pads. Since I’ll be using aluminum trim, I went for handy dandy metallic tremclad (in aluminum gloss) which costs around $5 a can. 

I took the tires and tube off the wheel, scrubbed it down with some steel wool and then gave it two coats of paint. Apparently there’s a special tool to take tires off and put them back on but I used two screwdrivers to get the tire off, and Sean’s strong hands to get the tires back on!

Now I have a great looking pair or wheels for less than $30 which is much, much better than $80!

Next Up…Axles, trim and assembly!

Rally Course of the Week – October 24, 2011

Course Details

Level: Advanced (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x60′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: This is a very condensed course with only six novice signs thrown in for changes of direction. According to CARO rules, an advanced course must have a minimum of 8 advanced stations. In this case you have 10 advanced stations in an 18 station course and it’s possible that you might encounter a course with more! There is also a rule (in CARO – not CKC to my knowlege) that each advanced level station must appear at least once in a weekend trial. Come to a trial prepared to perform all exercises – because you likely will  be asked to!

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 60′ Course – Advanced 2 (T11-09)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

Tracking Update – (Re)Learning the Obvious

Well, I have to (sheepishly) admit that haven’t been out tracking much lately. Part of my reluctance has been that:

  • I haven’t been really sure what to do about out corner trouble; and,
  • I’ve been afraid that repeating the same (wrong) thing over and over might only serve to reinforce the bad habits I think I may have inadvertently taught Bear.

Part of me knows I need some outside help but the other part of me enjoys tracking as one of the few things I can pick up and do when I want without waiting for or depending on someone else.

And so, my approach to date has been to stay off the field, keep thinking on it, read some more books, and read every post on tracking lists and training blogs oh, and make some contacts to see about a tracking seminar in the spring. I always feel I need to let problems ‘percolate’ before coming up with a solution and sometimes I think that amounts to procrastination but other times, it seems to pay off.

This week through the perfect storm of circumstances I think I have a plan to address our tracking issues.

Recently on the CKC tracking yahoo group, a few people have been posting about some of their training issues including a woman with a dog that could, at times, track through a flock of geese but often would appear to forget what she was out there to do altogether. One thoughtful reply was that sometimes dogs appear to “lose it” when we have pushed them to far past their current abilities. This means that while a dog may successfully be able to track one 400m track perfectly, three in a row may be too much. I don’t know why this had not occurred to me in my own context. Maybe it was that I was pushing to be ready for the tracking test? Maybe it’s because I’m working alone. Regardless, the point and the lesson to me is to work at a level where Bear can be successful and not to push too far too soon, even if it means I have to go and retrieve unused flags and articles. I know this as a trainer but clearly had not thought about it in the tracking context. Both Tracking plans that I have been using are very track intensive….sometimes tracking over 1k in a session (split into 2 or 3 separate tracks).

I just read a book called Following Ghosts by Suzanne Clother and John W. Rice. Check out my book review over at the Prairie Dog Blog. This book has really filled in a lot of blanks for me especially where handling and corners are concerned. I started wondering if Bear was really tracking or if he was responding to cues I have not realised that I am giving and in Following Ghosts, this is addressed and they call it “appearance tracking”. Combined with what I (re)learned from the CKC tracking list about pushing dogs too far, and what I know about shaping behaviours in dogs, it makes perfect sense. Introducing corners from the beginning challenges a dog’s skills and prevents a dog from thinking that tracking only happens in a straight line. *facepalm*

I have been following the tracking blog Your Tracking Coach and recently the author, Donna Brinkworth discussed the value of training partners and video cameras in training. You all know my reasons for not having (i mean wanting) a tracking partner in the traditional sense of the term. Video recordings are a perfect solution but until now, tracking long tracks meant I would need to convince someone (I mean Sean) to videotape for me. The length/complexity of the track and limitations of my video camera require someone to following me closely so I can see my own body language and Bear’s. If I take into account the wisdom from Following Ghosts and the CKC tracking list) I don’t need to work a long track or multiple corners and I can record our work with a tripod. You can see an example of our work below where I have set the tripod about 15 yards from an article that is the last leg of a 50 yard track. This set up lets me see how Bear works the corners and keep an eye on my handling so that I don’t inadvertently ‘tell’ him where the corner is.

So from now until the snow is too deep to track, we’ll work short tracks with corners and also add some changes of cover which I am pretty fortunate to have within a 2 minute walk of my home.

If any of you are tracking on your own (or training for any other venue without an in-person mentor), how do you solve training problems? What resources do you use?

Rally Course of the Week – October 17, 2011

Course Details

Level: Novice (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x60′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: This is an example of a very long novice course. The 1,2,3 steps forward (5) and the spiral (8) add time but so do the stretches of heeling between exercises. From a handling perspective, this course is not very forgiving – to perform it successfully, you need a dog  a dog that works well, responds to cues the first time and does not need retries will complete the course with a bit of time to spare. If your dog is less precise and tends to be distracted in a new environment you will have some handling decisions to make. A retry at the novice level incurs a deduction of 3 points however, depending on the exercise, a retry can take 10-30 seconds which may or may not put you over time at the end of the course. This course is a great one to try using a timer to see just how quickly you are working. Once you have timed it once, go back and see how much time you have left once you perform one or two retries.

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 60′ Course – Novice (T11-50)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

Rally Course of the Week – October 10, 2011

Course Details

Level: Excellent (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x70′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: Yet another shorter course which makes for a lot of hard work – but it’s over rather quickly! The main challenge with this course is working in proximity to the obstacles. If you have a dog that is very obstacle focused, she could easily be ‘sucked in’ to the weave poles or tunnel as you heel by. Make sure you practice heeling around obstacles because you;ll encounter this rather often at the Excellent level.

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 70′ Course – Excellent (T11-50)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

Rally Course of the Week – October 3, 2011

Course Details

Level: Advanced (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x50′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: This is another short course which means lots of advanced level exercises with little in between them. This means dogs are doing lots of distance and precision work. for many dogs working away from the handler is a challenge and staying in place while their handler walks or runs away is even more difficult.  The other little challenge is a long stretch (34 feet) of heeling which don’t often see in rally. Heeling between exercises is something handlers sometimes forget to train in a rush to learn the exercises but let’s not forget that there are points to be lost in-between stations too!

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 50′ Course – Advanced 1 (T11-09)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

Rally Course of the Week – September 26, 2011

Course Details

Level: Novice (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x50′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: This course has plenty of opportunities to reward your dog and both a spiral and straight figure eight. what this means is that, depending on your dog’s regular working pace and your capacity for delivering rewards efficiently, you may find yourself short on time. This is why it’s a good idea to practice rewarding your dog and to time your runs on a full course from time to time. The other challenge in this course is the fact that you may pass by the same place twice and will complete a different sign each time (4&12, 5&18, 6&19) I recall a few teams going off course because they went off track at one of these signs. My best advice in these situations is to use the entire walk through time to help you remember the course pattern in your mind!

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 50′ Course – Novice 2 (T11-09)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

Rally Course of the Week – September 19, 2011

Course Details

Level: Versatility (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x50′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: This is a very basic CARO Versatility course however it’s deceptive. The challenges are, mainly that the dog has to work on both sides of the handler. This means that now simple things like a call front finish right are completely different! For many teams exercises performed on the right hand side tend to be sloppy because they are practiced less. I would encourage rally enthusiasts at all levels to practice on their left and right sides so that when you get to the Versatility level, you and your dog are both comfortable.

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 50′ Course – Versatility (T11-50)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

Rally Course of the Week – September 12, 2011

Course Details

Level: Advanced (CARO)

Space Required: 50’x50′

Designer: Ayoka Bubar

Comments: In CARO, an advanced course may have between 15 and 20 stations. In the past, I would say most courses have closer to twenty stations so this one may seem really short to many of you but, it’s allowable. In this course, the only stations that are not advanced level are four opportunities to reward your dog but there is the challenge of working around food bowls which tends to suck some dogs in. The lesson learned from this course is that in an advanced course, you will often have to perform ALL exercises around food bowls- practicing walk-bys, sits and stands for exam should be part of your training at this level.

Download this Course: CARO 50′x 50′ Course – Advanced 1 (T11-09)

If you would like to have your course featured as a course of the week, just email it to me (prairiedogdaycare@yahoo.ca) and I’ll happily give you credit and provide your personal or business contact info and link.

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