Our brains are hard-wired to the fight/flight/freeze behaviours

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By Mark Laker
Back to Basics


‘This is a different sport to the one we play at home’ a comment I heard at the FCI Agility World Championships from a Team GB handler. It’s true that the speed, the technical challenges and the level of competition was at a different level to UK domestic agility. However the basic principle of the sport remains the same, a clear round trumps faults.

 

In our quest for speed or to master a particular skill it’s easy to forget the basics

 

Our brains are hard-wired to the fight/flight/freeze behaviours. Our sub-conscious is constantly scanning the environment to protect and motivate us. So it’s easy for our brain to interpret dogs running faster, handlers performing a new ‘sexy’ handling manoeuvre to process that to mean ‘I need to be doing that to survive (fight)‘ or ‘I don’t like/not interested in that, I’m off…’ (flight).

 

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But there is a more developed part of the human brain that processes logic, its the part that allows us to stop, stand-back and consider the bigger picture (must get a clear round). However our nature is to conform and to be part of a pack, so to process that logic isn’t the easy option.

 

How do we become aware of when our reptilian brain is ruling our developed brain?

 

There is no one answer, it depends on many influencing factors. However, a behaviour humans (and dogs) are good at is developing habits. Habits automate processes which enable us to carry out repeatable actions without thinking about them… when was the last time you thought about having to blink!

 

Maybe a way to remember the basics e.g. getting a clear round is to develop habits that build the skills required to produce clear runs.

 

I’ll write about the power of habits next month.
Mark
 
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1st Autumn European Weimaraner Cup

“It was an amazing experience!” Andrea Wright

1st Autumn European Weimaraner Cup from the Weimaraner Club of Great Britain

By Sally Morgan

Thank you to everybody who offered support and encouragement for the WCGB team. It was a fabulous experience and we are so pleased the WCGB decided to enter a team and support the inaugural event.

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I arrived with Adrian and Bolt on Wednesday to bright blue skies. The Tuscan location was amazing – the farmhouse complex was perched on a hilltop with panoramic views and the staff were incredibly helpful and friendly. Arriving early we were able to do some training with the Swedish team, while Kimm, Chris and Andrea arrived on Thursday.

We were all made very welcome by the Italians, including Simone Superbi, the Italian Club President and Sophia Joly the vice president. The atmosphere of the weekend was great – friendly and supportive and we loved the welcoming ceremony with the flags and national anthems – a great start to the event.

The first day was a pointing test in the morning (up steep slopes!) with the dogs allowed to run for 15 mins or so. Unlike our own pointing tests, dogs don’t get a second run so a lot rested on the single run, with some handlers getting cover crop and others fields of rough grass and thistle. The interesting bit at the end was the barrage where the qualified dogs ran in pairs on a cover crop so the judges could determine the ranking. The qualifications in the field gained points for the individual and team.

Group 1: judges Piva, Modonese, Sjostrom
1VG Snaiper Missy – Ted Karlsson
2VG Semper Adamas Shark Superb – Giulio Rigamonti

Group 2 :Junior Championship Cup judges Bachini Crudeli Lombardi Wilkinson
1VG Fala Love’a Albus Severus at Powershot – Cristina Soldati

Group 3: judges Frangini, Barzanó, Kugel
1VG Powershot C Altair – Martina Magnani
2VG Snaiper’s Thelma – Kadi Harjak
3VG Jekill – Pino Giancotti
CQN Skyttens Nektar Silver – Fredrik Jonsson

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Mylo and Andrea – conformation test

The afternoon was a morphological verification (conformation test). Interestingly, for those who show, the judge sat ringside and scored each dog on head, general morphology and angles and occasionally asked a dog to move around the ring. Each of the three aspects is worth 4 points, so a maximum of 12, which is then divided by 10.

 

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Italian dog – conformation test. Judge sitting by ringside

Last test of the day was the water test comprising a simple seen retrieve of pheasant from deep water for which Bolt, Tara and Mylo gained full marks (2 marks)

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Water retrieve – Adrian and Bold waiting

Day 2 was a bit like a shot over day with two guns following each dog. Dogs had to find, point and flush birds. If the guns failed to shoot the bird, the judge threw cold game for the retrieve.

Group 1: Judges Piva, Modonese, Sjostrom
1exc Skyttens nektar Silver Fredrik Jonsson
2 exc Jekill Pino Giancotti
3 vg Snaiper’s Thelma Kadi Harjak
Group 2: Judges Bachini Crudeli Wilkinson
1 exc Semper Adamas Shark Superb Giulio Rigamonti
Group 3: Judges Frangini Lombardi Kugel
1exc Powershot C’Altair Martina Magnani – overall individual winner
2mb Felisin Diosa Deidre Tamara Van den Dam

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Day 2 shot over – Andrea & Mylo

By the end the Italians won the team event and the individual dog, with the Swedes in second.

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Day 2 – shot over. Andrea & Mylo working down steep side hillside cover crop grass and bramble thickets

A fascinating two days

Dogs trialling in the UK are expected to hunt well but be under control, steady on flush, have soft mouth and return the bird gently to hand. The Italians favour a hard hunting dog that covers a lot of ground and can work independently of its handler (something UK judges tend to refer to as self-employed) and they don’t seem to mind the dogs running in after flush or damaging the bird. We were frustrated by the fact that the handlers and observers did not follow the action in the gallery, but remained by the cars until called forward, so we didn’t see many of the dogs work. Hence most of my photos were taken with a very long lens from 300-500m distance!

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Still Andrea’s run — worked pond margins and now on strip of cover crop

It was a truly sociable weekend and, for me, the best bit was meeting other Weimaraner handlers from across Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

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Andrea Wright and Mylo

Many thanks to the Italian Weimaraner Club for running this great event and for the support from the other teams, without which the event would have never got off the ground. Following discussions between the Italian, Dutch, Swedish and GB representatives, it was agreed that the next event will take place in the Netherlands in 2020.

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Team at the end, with thanks to sponsors CSJ, Field and Trial, Harbour Vetinary Services

Sally
Weimaraner Club of Great Britain

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Pointing test – Croatian dog hunting hillside of grass and thistle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Andrea & Mylo on cover crop