Performadog Talks With Annita Reynolds. Life, German Shepherds, Melbourne Sport Dog Club.

Q. Hello Annita, tell us about yourself?

A. I am 70 years old. I pursued my love of foreign language learning to become a high school teacher of French, German and Japanese for many years. After my family grew up, I made a “sea-change” and went into the dairy industry, milking cows. I have been working at this for nearly 20 years. I enjoy the work immensely, early mornings and physical rigour and the seasonal challenges of working with animals.

Always something to learn.

Q. You have been involved with dogs for a while, can you please tell us how you got involved?

A.  My involvement with dogs stretches over a lifetime of family pets. Still, I didn’t take on training seriously till I acquired a GSD pup as a birthday present. I joined the local GSD club and loved the training.

Q. What makes you choose the German Shepherd?

A.  I had always admired the German Shepherd breed for its’ appearance and character and workability. My first encounter with a German Shepherd Dog had been a cross and a very anxious animal, so I had resolved that my next one would be temperamentally sound. However, given that this one was a present, I didn’t get that opportunity.

Q. You were an obedience instructor at the German Shepherd club, can you please tell our readers about that?

A. I discovered that my dog was very reactive to other dogs. Although training helped, it was always a management issue. This really made any trialling not feasible. I tried everything that was suggested, but there were no credible solutions. I became an instructor with GSDCV, hoping, that I would better understand this reactive behaviour and be able to deal more effectively with it.

However, there was only a very superficial acknowledgement of and understanding of this problem from within the organisation.

From an instructor’s point of view, it seemed that there was a syllabus to teach, a catalogue of exercises, regardless of temperament and that we were producing socially acceptable behaviours for pet dog owners. I found this sort of training didn’t help my dog. This led me to see that breeding was all-important. My reactive dog had weak nerves and low thresholds, so training was always going to be a problem. It was suggested to me that if I really wanted to train, I needed a Working Line German shepherd with high drive and sound temperament. I was advised that Von Forell Kennels were the best. So that’s when I got to know Kris.

Q. Having been exposed to German Shepherds, your current dog is a male from Von Forell Kennels, what are your thoughts on Moser?

A. Moser is everything I had been told about in a Von Forell shepherd. He is a high prey drive, very motivated dog, who is open and confident. He is temperamentally very sound and is quick to learn. A delight to train and to have as a companion. He comes to work with me to the dairy. He is very calm, waiting patiently while exposed to all sorts of machinery and animal noises and smells. He has grown up around little children and loves being around them. He is indifferent to strangers patting him on the street but relishes the same from kids. They might have a ball!.

Q. You are a member of the Melbourne Dog Sports Club. Tell us about your experience?

A. I love being a member of MSDC. This fantastic group of passionate, like-minded handlers is essential for support throughout the highs and lows in this dog sport. We train hard but laugh a lot. There is so much goodwill across our group and a shared desire for every member to succeed. Learning from each other and being able to offer and receive constructive criticism engages us all on the journey of a shared vision. Training is guided by Kris, whose commitment to each of us is phenomenal, coaching us to be the best we can be.

Q. Due to your longevity in the dog world, have you noticed much change in the way of the breed and training?

A. Over time I have been involved in the dog world, I can see a sharp divergence in the GSD breed. There is firstly the vast difference in the workability of the Working Line dogs compared to those bred for conformation. My experience has confirmed the functional superiority of the Working Lines dogs.

Training mirrors different functions. The training was initially in suppressing too much drive and energy to make the dog fit a socially acceptable role for companion animals. In contrast, the training I now see as learning to mould those drives, enhance the genetics for its full potential into a powerful athlete.

Q. We would be interested in the difference between your original views and current views on dogs, training, and how community perception has altered since your introduction.

A. Unfortunately, there is a vast gulf between those that train in dog sports and how the community see dogs in general. There is a move to remove training tools from trainers in a misguided belief that only positive training is to be tolerated. Dogs are humanised, and how they learn is not generally understood. The application of science-backed learning is much appreciated in the dog sport world. The application of this has enabled an exciting level of precision training.

Q. Who are your mentors?

A. When I first started training, dogs were put in group classes and handlers told to get their dogs to “focus” on them. This was difficult to achieve for inexperienced handlers and dogs new to training. It resulted in lots of food luring or neck jerks. With all the distractions abounding in this situation, it was an almost impossible task. My first realisation that this sort of training was so flawed was when Michael Ellis opened my eyes to establishing a bond with one’s dog through play before attempting to train.This made so much sense.

Kris has guided my training, and without his patience and ability to teach, I would not be the dog handler I am. I feel very privileged to be able to train with his guidance and expert knowledge, and openness to ideas. He knows dogs inside out as a highly successful breeder and trainer.

Q. You feed Moser Performadog Ultra-Premium Dry Dog food; please give us your thoughts?

A. Moser has thrived on Performadog food since he was a puppy. It has been the perfect nutrition for a high powered animal. I know the research behind Performadog food is ethical and rigorously credible.

Q. How would you like to be remembered?

A. As to how I am remembered. I don’t really care. But, I care for myself that I don’t give up when the going gets tough. That’s why the people around in MSDC are so valued.

Thank you very much for your time Annita and we wish you and Moser tremendous success.

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