Introducing Flash. Flash is nine years old, a very sweet dog. He loves to be caressed the whole day. When I was studying for my final exams at the university, Flash always was lying on my feet, loved to get petted all day long. He also loves to eat. Flash came to us when he was eight months old. I train agility with him and he is just a great dog. As you can see in the movie youtube he just gives everything he can – mentally and physically. He is not so fast because of his age and his short legs, but I love his enthusiastic growling while running. It’s unbelievable that this is the same dog that prefers not to move so much at home!
Introducing our lady, Camilla. She is seven years old. She is quite a wild animal – a lovely soul, sometimes a little bit afraid of strange people. She loves to work with her nose, plays with balls and dog dancing. Here you can see her with some tricks youtube. She would be very fast in agility, if she wanted to do it. Sometimes she is a little bit afraid of competition atmosphere. I took a long break in competition with her and worked a lot on her self-confidence. We returned to agility competitions and she is very good and fast again and the most important thing – she has fun!
Introducing the youngest, the famous Hitchcock. He is four years old and a once-in-a-lifetime dog. He is very sensitive, intelligent, and such a lovely boy. He was the first dog I had since he was a puppy. He is a great working dog – he is reactive, emotional and sensitive. A good working dog may have problems in daily life, especially if the owner is not sensitive enough to read the dog and act the right way. When Hitchcock was a juvenile dog, he was sometimes really afraid of new things. I trained him slowly and with lots of patience. I took him to situations where he could manage the things he saw/heard/smelt and slowly increased the complexity of the situations. I also worked with signals in the moment he relaxed. With this training and this increasing trust in me, he got more and more secure. Then it was no problem for him to come with me in crowded cities and when he thinks he sees a ghost, I can call him our signal word and he believes me that he’s not in danger.
The advantage of a highly sensitive dog is that he interacts unbelievably subtle with me. When he was a puppy I already started to train his brain and built up our relationship. I began with very short little tasks. It’s important that the dog can have success and always stop when the dog is still very motivated. Slowly increase the duration of training. With this strategy Hitchcock developed a very high motivation and concentration to work and use his brain. I trained him in obedience, tricks, brain work, nose work, and coordination tasks. After 12 months we started with agility training and he learned very quickly. When he does agility, he barks all the time in high excitement. But he is still able to react to my handling and he is calm and relaxed between the runs. This is a sign, that this barking is not distress, but joyful excitement. The quality of training is much more important than the quantity. On average, I train once a week and when I train in the garden, it’s for three minutes at the time, no more. He is very well muscled and thin. An agility dog like Hitch, with such conditions, will most likely encounter no health problems with a warm up before the training takes place – it’s very important to not overdo it – I would even say that fat dogs with no mental stimulation have higher health risks. If you would like to follow Hitchcock’s activities, join his Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/scottiehitchcock) and our youtube channel.
In 2010 we qualified for the Agility European Open in the Czech Republic. For the first time in history a Scottie managed to qualify for an international agility competition. You can watch his “once in a lifetime“ event in the youtube movie. There, you can also see how well he did in the crowded city of Prague. I will never forget this journey with this unique little dog, which bonded us together for life.
My name is Bettina Stemmler. I’m animal psychologist, dog trainer and I’m Master of Science UZH. I studied Psychology, History and Philosophy at the University of Zurich. I did three empirical research projects in dog-human relationship and dog owner-society interactions. (You can download my research works and articles from my homepage, but sorry, they are in german). I have practiced Agility since 1997 and Hitchcock is my seventh dog training in Agility. I train a fun agility group in a local dog club , once a year I teach an agility beginner class and sometimes I offer learning theory seminars.
I also work in the film business. Together with Michael Magee, we produce TV spots, Imagefilms, documentaries and much more at www.magee.ch