UPDATE 26/12/19 : Watch the 9 new video's on our DUCK Youtube channel.
No, Remko certainly doesn’t run on the treadmill yet. It’s much too soon for that. But Ronny is letting him get acquainted with it and get used to it. Before the vet gives him the go-ahead to use the treadmill, Remko needs to be fully grown and undergo a physical examination.
You have to be especially careful with big dogs during their growth period, and German Shepherds are big dogs. Once Remko reaches adulthood he will work on the treadmill regularly, but for short sessions, as a complement to his training and daily walks.
It would be correct to refer to a sport dog, which Remko is going to be, as an athlete. A sport dog needs not only to be obedient, it also has to be able to cope physically. Stamina plays a really important role, just as it does for sportsmen and women.
The greater the dog’s stamina, the better his performance will be, if all the rest is right, of course. It’s the same in lots of sports. Technique alone is often not enough, it has to be combined with stamina.
Participating in competitions, certainly at the world level, demands a lot from the dog, so he has to be mentally strong. The bond with the handler and a well-balanced life are important. A dog with little stamina will make mistakes when he is performing his exercises.
Ronny will put Remko on the treadmill regularly but very briefly, so that Remko gets used to it.
A first video showing Remko tracking.
Handler Ronny lays the trail himself. He is putting a little bit of food (DUCK of course) in every footstep.
At the highest competitive level, the dog will have to find three objects on the trail and indicate them or retrieve them. He can indicate an object by barking or lying down, standing or sitting in front of it.
There will be corners in the track too. Tracking isn’t only done in a straight line.
All this has to be taken into consideration now, while Remko is being taught to track.
One difficulty with tracking is that the dog might want to go too fast and skip some bits or some steps to get to the end of the trail faster. We see that Ronny holds Remko back or slows him down now and then, so that he doesn’t switch to a higher speed but keeps tracking at the same tempo.
In IGP tracking, the dog has to work with his nose deep in the trail. You can see that clearly with Remko, who indeed doesn’t raise his head once, but tracks step by step.
We can hear a strong wind on the video, nonetheless Remko continues to follow the trail with great concentration. Ronny doesn’t give Remko any commands and tries to allow him to work independently. Ronny supports Remko by following him closely on a long lead to correct the tempo now and then and to stroke Remko very gently as confirmation of his good work. During tracking the dog has to work very independently, so Ronny deliberately doesn’t reward him orally. In sections B (obedience) and C (protection work), on the other hand, the dog has to listen carefully to the commands.
At the scent post, we see Remko start automatically. No additional command is necessary, because he already knows what is expected of him and he begins tracking.
The tracklayer’s scent is strong at the level of the scent post and the dog knows by himself what scent to follow.
The plan is for Remko to obtain an IGP 111 eventually. For that the trail is an hour old and laid by a strange tracklayer. There will be three objects lying on that trail.
At the end of the trail we see Remko win the 'jackpot'; a pot containing a larger portion of DUCK food stuck in the ground.
In this beautiful sports discipline it is very important, literally and figuratively, not to skip any steps. Because tracking is always different. A lot depends on the weather conditions and the ground. If you participate in foreign competitions these can certainly be determining factors, where the ground or the weather may be very different from what the other participants have to deal with. We have no control over that.
Ronny emphasises regularly that he could not be so successful without a team. Here, too, we can see that training a dog is group work. A club member holds Remko so that Ronny can train the ‘front sit’ command. It’s a position that occurs frequently in section B, obedience.
The exercise is always done with the dog sitting in front of his master, in the same way as the ‘retrieve’, ‘go’ and ‘come’ exercises. This is a very important exercise and it must be done over and over again very precisely. To teach it correctly Ronny uses a platform or tray on which the dog cannot sit incorrectly. Every time Remko does it well he is rewarded by Ronny with food and a hug.
We see, too, how Ronny teaches Remko to pay attention to his master and not to the hand with the food in it or the jacket pocket where the DUCK food is.
In this video we also see that following has evolved a lot as well. Ronny still lures Remko with food. It is easier now than at the very beginning because Remko is a bit bigger. Ronny makes sure that Remko walks nicely at heel and that he certainly doesn’t try to crawl forward. That would create problems for later when the dog is bigger and stronger. Remko is always lured and rewarded with the left hand. Ronny walks in large circles, with Remko on the inside. Now and then a stop is included and Remko has to sit. Every time he does this he his rewarded after the click.
Ronny works with food so that Remko can train in a very concentrated manner. When he is teaching the dog an exercise it is important to make sure that Remko is calm, so that he remains concentrated and is fully aware of what he is being taught. If the dog were to be rewarded with a toy that he loves, he would become too excited. The risk then is that the dog might make mistakes and go into overdrive like a car. A dog cannot learn in that state. It’s like children in school, who are being taught something new. They need to concentrate hard while they’re in class. There is time for sport and playing afterwards.
Once a dog has thoroughly mastered an exercise he can be rewarded with a toy or a ball sometimes. But that is for after the learning phase.
Because the learning phase demands a lot of concentration from both the handler and the dog, training is done in very short sessions. That avoids mistakes during training due to loss of concentration or fatigue.
The positions are also trained in the tray or on the platform. In particular, that has the advantage that the dog really has to take the positions in the same place. Ronny stays with Remko very briefly to reward him and support him. In IGP it is vital that the dog does not move forward while performing the positions ‘sit’ ‘stand’ and ‘lie’, so it is equally important to pay attention to that during teaching as well. Because of the physical barrier of the tray in which Remko has taken his place and the immediate proximity of Ronny, the dog cannot move forward. Like this he learns the positions correctly from the start and doesn’t need to be corrected.
New training videos from 23/11/2019 can be viewed now on the DUCK YouTube channel. You will find a direct link to the DUCK YouTube channel at the bottom of this page. We have posted 6 new training videos of Remko.
In this video Ronny uses a platform, as he does in various exercises. This particular format is a good one for teaching the exercise ‘sending the dog forward’.
The handler has to send the dog away from him in a straight line and then call to him to stop.
After Remko has been rewarded for sprinting to the platform and staying on it, Ronny switches to teaching him to walk at heel. Ronny makes sure that Remko does not push ahead, using his left hand with DUCK food in it to keep the dog nicely where he wants him.
When Ronny stops, Remko has to sit. Remko has already understood that.
Ronny clicks while they are walking, if the dog performs correctly, and clicks when they stop and Remko sits. After every click, Remko is rewarded with DUCK food.
We see that Ronny deliberately adds turns to the walk.
During the walk Ronny also praises Remko verbally. That can be combined perfectly well with the clicker. But Ronny will not praise Remko too enthusiastically, so as not to break his concentration. A pup like Remko has a great ‘will to please’ in its genes and really does not need a great deal of motivation.
When selecting a pup, Ronny pays particular attention to whether the dog’s drive to work is adequate and whether it has a sufficient appetite for food. He uses DUCK for training purposes too. Dogs like it.
It is clear, of course, that it is very important for Remko to pay attention to Ronny from the very beginning.
We see that Remko makes a mistake at the start of this exercise and does not immediately understand what is required of him. Remko gets no blame for that. He is neither punished nor corrected, there would be absolutely no point in that. The pup may make mistakes because he is still only learning. Ronny ignores the false start and just begins again. This time Remko does it correctly. After searching round a tent Remko has to pay attention to his boss, who then accompanies him to the next hiding place or tent.
Once again we can see that Ronny uses his posture to give Remko the signal to go to the tent.
In this video we see how the dog is taught to go around a hiding place and search. Remko will eventually have to search 6 hiding places/tents to find the protection work helper and bark at him in the last hiding place each time.
At competitions, the judges check that the dog circles the tents/hiding places closely, demonstrating eagerness and speed. Ronny clearly bears that in mind when teaching Remko.
If the dog circles the tent closely Ronny clicks to show Remko he has performed the exercise correctly and praises him. The dog then races to fetch his reward from his boss.
Ronny also takes into consideration the fact that Remko is still a small pup. The tents are mini format and the distances are short. The teaching must be done in very small steps. At the pup’s level.
video 4 + 6:
Remko already knows what is required of him and sprints to the platform. When he is there he gives Ronny all his attention. Ronny is satisfied with his performance and confirms it with a click and food.
After he has given Remko the DUCK food, we see that Ronny’s posture completely changes and Remko understands that the exercise is over. A nice example of how well even a pup can read a person.
Ronny teaches Remko the three basic positions: sit, stand and down. These positions are the basis for any type of dog training, whether it is for sport, work or house dogs. In IGP, the sport for which Remco is being trained, these basic positions occur in a variety of exercises, such as lying down, stopping when it is being sent forward, sitting before it is called, the three positions from moving, sitting before fetching etc.
To teach this Ronny uses a platform or tray to keep Remko in the same place. To motivate and lure him Ronny uses DUCK food. He confirms the dog’s position with a click and then rewards him with DUCK food. We can clearly hear Ronny giving one command after the other.
Ronny continues to teach Remko the exercises. This particular one will be repeated many times. Ronny works with great concentration in order to maintain Remko’s attention and so that he realises what he is being taught.
Teaching something new is done without too much pressure. Once Remko is 100% familiar with the positions associated with the commands, Ronny will work on increasing the speed of his performance.
Posted on 2/11/2019
Ronny Van den Berghe is a phenomenon in the dog training world. He has won many Belgian titles and 4 world titles with various German Shepherds and has been crowned winner of the WUSV Universal Sieger twice.
Unfortunately, Ronny Van den Berghe had to part, much too early and very unexpectedly, from Korky vom Barbatus, the champion dog with whom he won the title of Universal Sieger twice.
Universal Sieger is an extremely prestigious world title. The competition is organised by the WUSV, which is still the biggest breed association in the world. It combines dog training sports with a dog show. One can only win this title if the dog has been trained for the IGP, an international working dog test. The IGP competition is divided into three separate disciplines: searching, obedience and protection.
In addition to that, obviously, the dog must be healthy and score well in the show. WUSV, the international organisation that defends the interests of German Shepherd Dogs, wants pedigree dogs to comply with the profile and standards of the breed. To win this title a dog must come close to the ideal of a German Shepherd in both its physical characteristics and its character.
Korky had all the qualities to reach the top. Together, he and Ronny were clearly a winning duo. Ronny dreamed of even more titles, but unfortunately his dreams were abruptly dashed.
In July this year, Korky became ill in the Czech Republic, where the two had been invited to participate in an international competition. We will never know the exact cause of Korky’s death. It is possible that he became ill after swimming in contaminated water. Although Czech and Belgian vets did their very best, they were unable to save Korky. This was a serious blow for Ronny.
After a difficult period and some reflection, Ronny decided to muster his courage and take up the challenge again with a new pup, Sir Remko v.d. Daelenberghütte, born on 14/08/2019. It is no coincidence that he is a son of the much mourned Korky vom Barbatus.
Once again, DUCK is supporting Ronny and his pup to achieve their goals. We wish them every success. Go get it, Remko!
Read the complete interview with Ronny van den Berghe in the November 2019 (part 1) and December 2019 (part 2) editions of the magazine Hondensport/Sporthond.
You can follow Sir Remko v.d. Daelenberghütte’s growth and training in this blog. Regular updates, with new films and photos, will be posted on our website and on the DUCK YouTube channel. You will find a direct link to the YouTube channel at the bottom of this page. Thirteen of Remko’s training videos have already been posted.
It is very important to advance little by little and to try not to miss any steps along the way. You can really only teach dogs if you turn the learning process into a game, with a focus on rewards, and keep the sessions short.
But if you have lots of patience, it’s amazing how fast they learn!
The first important steps have already been taken. Remko’s training is well underway, both at home and at the club.
In the first videos we see and hear Ronny working with the clicker. A clicker is a handy tool for good, correct communication with a pup during its development or while it is learning a new exercise. A click is always followed by a reward. In Ronny’s case that is always food. At this stage at least. Later on, a ball could be a reward, for example, but there is no question of that at this point.
A pup has to be taught everything. That is why they are lured so much with food. DUCK food. Yes, because Ronny uses very small pieces of DUCK even for the rewards.
In the first videos we see preparations for the obedience section of the test.
Ronny chooses to work with different platforms. These are used to position the pup correctly. This will be useful later for a whole lot of exercises: for sitting, calling, fetching, as well as barking at the protection work helper.
In fact, platform training is useful for all dog sports or for training your house dog.
In videos 3 and 4 we see Remko being prepared for protection work.
This exercise is called ‘arousal’.
Handler Ronny supports and Remko and takes him through his first steps in bite work.
In this first exercise the protection work helper is also called an ‘arouser’ because he provokes the pup with a leather or jute rag to arouse its anger. Dog sport is a team sport too!