How can I test myself and my
Are we a positively oriented team?
A dog has long been a man’s companion, helpmate in hunting and shepherding, guarding the house. The dog is not a cat whose training is not so important as dog’s. In fact, you may say that positive, stimulant training is just as important as proper feeding of the dog. The dog definitely enjoys doing something together with the owner after the latter’s positive direction. With developing technologies the guard dog will be no longer as effective as, for instance, house security of “Falck Security”, and also their monthly cost will be less than expenses on keeping a dog. I think that many will agree – buying a dog to keep it chained degrades the animal mentally. Also, chaining the animal and denying it an opportunity to be together with its pack – the family who has adopted the dog – is absurd from the angle of gregarious psychology. It can be viewed as torture. How can we give pleasure to the dog and vice versa?
The dog is also a companion who will
decidedly induce positive emotions and with proper training – without beating
and humiliating in order to achieve obedience – will be more loyal to carry out
any shared activities. It will be ready to do anything to please its owner.
Unequivocally, the do is an ideal companion for active outdoor recreation.
On April 8, Valdis Bikovskis, the head of the Canine Centre of the Canine Unit at Border Guard College (BGC), and his four legged colleague Anka won the second tracker dog biathlon race organized in the Field Training Centre of the Border Guard College. Both will go to the 8th NATO International Dog Leade race that will be held at the end of may at Gailkirchen, Germany. Also three runners up – Atis Ozers and Rendo from Valmiera, Janis Zelvis and Kleine from Riga, and Uldis Livdans and Douglass from Selonia department – will go there. All four dog leaders will make a LBG dog leaders team.
Ozer’s dog Rendo received sincere and loving
praises. According to the owner and appraisals, not only the dog new his place
in Atis’ life, but also everybody else could witness that this result – first
runner up – is only because Rendo for Atis is more than just a tracker dog.
Judging from the praises the dog got after the finish he was the winner. Maybe
it could be “simply” love for your companion – a dog?
The dog’s countenance in the picture shows the same. If the dog could say
something to Atis the reply would definitely be friendly: “I couldn’t do
anything without you, buddy.”
Whereas U.Livdâns, according to V.Bikovskis, participates in this competition with his dog Douglas for several years, and their determination is evident in their common finish. Possibly thanks to fixing all inaccuracies in previous competitions Uldis showed such a good result making him a place in the Latvian team, which will participate in the 8th NATO Competition. After the finish though we can se that the owner of the dog has done his best to achieve the results.
20 contenders from all LBG territorial departments and BGC participated in the competition. Dog leaders with tracker dogs covered 9 kilometer route over mixed terrain – woods, grasslands, and marshes – overcoming 11 natural and man-made obstacles. They also had to ride bicycles.
Border guards with dogs had to demonstrate skills to repulse an attack and detain offenders. Uldis Barkans stressed that not only timing clocked but also the accuracy was measured. Better results of some depended on the quality of the dog, not only training.
Although participants rated the track as
tricky because of physical endurance tested on low grade hillsides others
pondered that next time it should be more complicated. Bikovskis is certain that
“it would not be right to make it more complicated, so that only a few reached
The aim of the competition was to upgrade professional
skills of LBG dog leaders and select the best dog leaders in tracker dog
biathlon. The route was developed considering NBG dog leaders’ experience at
international events – to prepare more effectively for the coming NATO tracker
dog leader competition. U.Barkans believes that all obstacles are useful also in
everyday training of the dog. All dog leaders were convinced that good results
may be achieved by mutual understanding and teamwork of the dog and border
Border guards from Lithuania were watching the competition. The chief dog leader of Ignalina unit Kestutis Kriucunas told that no competitions are held there yet. For the present Lithuanians do not take part in NATO tracker dog leader competition. “If the government supported, we could organize such competitions for our unit at first, where we have 24 dog leaders, and later on – for all dog leaders of the Lithuanian Border Guard,” Kriucunas reveals. He also admits that he has seen such competition as in Rezekne only on Discovery Channel on TV. Therefore it was worthwhile to come and see it in reality.
This competition is cooperation of a team – an owner and a dog. Defense and attack skills of tracker dogs need to be tested, therefore experts select them based on their drives and instincts. The atmosphere was truly friendly and mutually supportive, not forgetting about the competition, of course, because everybody new each other. It was evident that no dog was obeying an order just so punishment would follow any faulty movement. Enthusiasm was high, and each participant – team of dog and owner – was acting very coherently trying to stay the best friends even if they would not win. It probably helped to forget bitterness of loss in this event. Everybody cheered each other up, there were no envious or malevolent people around. The border guards who did not reach the top four seemed also satisfied with their achievement together with a dog. The dogs looked glad about owners’ pride for their mutual achievement. After the distance covered all were tired, and the canine part of teams quenched their thirst in a puddle of melted snow. Sometimes though it was hard to tell who was tired more – the dog or the owner, however everybody radiated satisfaction. Or one could say that losers showed no chagrin. Everybody was happy about achievements of their companion – the dog. Dogs also demonstrated contentment with owners’ pride by their emotional behavior.
Results of this challenge probably showed each dog owner what could be improved for the next competition and what should they work on to achieve better results.
Does anybody can participate in such challenge? Bikovskis told that in Switzerland such competitions are held annually in various subcategories for dog owners whose dogs are companions of leisure activities. Such dogs as Golden Retrievers, for instance, do not need defense skills because they contradict nature and essence of the breed. They belong to sports and hunting dogs, so they cover the distance without defense elements.
Bikovskis says: “Latvian Border Guard biathlon of tracker dogs has adopted principles of the NATO international dog leader challenges, introducing them in the Latvian border guard tracker dog competition. Only the terrain is different, also obstacles slightly vary because in Germany competitions are held in more populated areas also using empty facilities to organize runs and different special effects – smoke, flashlights and other lights. They also have better logistics, but the basics are the same. This will be the fifth year the Latvian representatives will participate in NATO international dog leader competition.
In the Latvian Border Guard biathlon for
tracker dogs a dog leader has to ride a bicycle, carry the dog over a trench.
while the dog has to repulse an attack
and run through a tunnel with one end covered
making it dark there. .
After that the dog leader and the dog had to
overcome a pile of car tyres by jumping over it
Shooting followed and crossing glades
as well as overcoming a two meter barrier for
the dog. The dog cannot be forced into it – everything has to be achieved by a
command or motivation. Afterwards the dog has to obey several commands of the
owner followed by bearing exercise when the dog leader has to carry the dog
running zigzags stepping into all car tyres along the distance. The next step
was eight meter tunnel that resembles covered trenches
. Bothe the dog leader and the dog had
to pass it.
Finally, the dog had to demonstrated skills in detaining and offender and then they could finish the distance.
In Switzerland similar challenge is divided in several categories (women, juniors, veterans and dogs by their breed) where not only professional dog leaders but also private owners can participate. They chose a category themselves, for example, Dachshund is registered in a category where biting is not evaluated. I think in Latvia it should be too difficult to organize such competition. Besides, the Border Guard has to cooperate with the community. Also a dog should be more than a pet lying on a coach. These challenges are satisfactory for a dog too.”
Such challenges to test cooperation between
the owner and the dog and develop the dog would definitely be interesting for
people who enjoy hiking in woods and love nature. This competition can be
possibly compared to orienteering or cross-country race with the only difference
– the track is marked and several tasks are to be accomplished together with
your four legged friend. Unlike cross country race not only timing is of essence
when selecting a winner. Such challenge can show you if you are better than
other teams of a dog and owner. To participate in such competitions it is
advisable for the dog to pass a test of general obedience, or “companion dog”
test beforehand. The fact that not only tracker dogs can participate in the
challenge was proven by border guard representative Alexandra Hrisevich with her
Barkans and Bikovskis consider that such competition could be organized in the outskirts of Rezekne for residents and their dogs, if there was interest. “The main thing is to gain support of the border guard administration and interest of private dog owners,” said the head of BGC Dog Leader Unit. He pointed out that the challenge could involve shooting, although different types of weapons would be necessary such as pneumatic. Borders guards used combat weapons in tracker dog challenge. “Itinerary of the challenge could be developed so that the shooting is not compulsive, and they have separate pretest – evaluation of various categories. Similar practice is used in Switzerland,” Barkans explained. “A separate category would be necessary for women also. By objective considerations they find hard to compete with men. They may catch up and outrun some, but it is not possible to beat the strongest,” Bikovskis agreed.
I am convinced that those whose dog is a loyal companion in their outdoor leisure activities would gladly take part in such a challenge to test their skills in cooperating with a dog: hunters, orienteering enthusiasts who has dogs at home – active companions in outdoor activities – and any other person. Maybe it is worthwhile to try and test whether your dog still carry out precisely skills obtained in obedience training, or a dog who has passed “companion dog” test. And try to finish the distance themselves, which seemed easy from an onlooker’s point of view.
Barkans and Bikovskis promised that LBG representatives will tackle organization of such challenge. This event would also draw sponsors who will provide prizes for winners and financial support.
This competition proved that each participant and his dog benefit from it, because we test our abilities to cooperate with the dog along the eight kilometer distance. I think that such challenge could become no less popular than the fold orienteering “Magnets” held each Wednesday afternoon in forests around Riga or O-Ringen competition held in Sweden. Thus we can facilitate different attitude towards the dog in society – the dog is for active work, sports and joint strolls. Untrained dog, which is not used, gradually degrades. The main motivation of such pet would then be to eat and to wait for the owner etc. If we are not training our dog and working with it we are degrading our loyal four legged buddy. We, dog owners, do want a friendly dog at our side – a companion who will enjoy everything done together with us and precise execution of a command given by us. I also think that a Golden Retriever as an active dog would be very fit for such challenge together with his owner crossing wooded areas.