Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back in the Swing of Things

This weekend we were back in the classroom, wearing lots of different hats. Winter training didn't go as planned. My dogs did nothing because I did nothing. Well that is not true - I did everything but dog training.

Indie and I are in advanced obedience classes. The hope is not to crash and burn during our first rally-o trial that we are attending in 4 very short weeks. Travis is entered too, but I just train him at home because Indie needs the stranger danger factor added to his training.

I'm teaching a few group agility classes. I find teaching a lot of fun but I am struggling a little with keeping the keener students in check. Perhaps this is normal but its stressing me out none the less. Someone is always raising their jump bars too high or twisting the flex tunnel into a pretzle and pushing their dog in to it.

I'll be taking on some puppy obedience classes too in the near future. Perhaps they will be easier to manage since its hard to damage your dog by asking him to sit. I'm also taking some classes that will hopefully help me become a better dog trainer. Its what I want to do with my life so I better start hitting the books - some are still in the mail. 

 My life is rapidly changing and things are going in a direction I never anticipated. Unexpectedly my own dogs training is suffering. Guess I'll have to start getting back up at 5am to squeeze in some training. I can't wait for spring....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jessica Martin Seminar at The Summit

I signed up for Jessicas second seminar months ago because I enjoyed the first one so much. I really enjoy her approach to teaching handlers and her personality is one that meshes well with mine - something of a rarity.

To everyone's surprise Jessica, a devout follower of the Derrett handling system,switched to the European handling style just 4 weeks ago. I don't think about handlers at the seminar were prepared for that shock.

None the less I am open to new learning opportunities and will embrace them if they work for both me and my dogs.

Jessica showed us her take on European handling which really isn't all that different from the Derrett system - it is more of a blend between the two. There is no crazy running backwards - seeing as I can't run well forwards that's a good thing - and still lots of body motion and position to get dogs around the course, the changes are more in the fluidity of the handling and timing is less important.

There are 4 key verbal cues - supported by body motion and/or position - that the dog must learn to be successful around the course:

1) a verbal cue to take a jump but turn back towards the handler,
2) a verbal cue to take the backside of a jump,
3) a verbal cue to come in to the handler, and not taking an obvious obstacle,
4) a verbal cue to threadle an obstacle.

These are all things that the Derret system uses body position in relation to the dog and obstacle to get the dog around the course. Jessicas new style relies more on those verbal cues to get the handler ahead of the dog. This way agility becomes a game of chase that the dogs are playing with the handler. This means more speed from the dog and easier handling for the handlers - especially the slower ones.

I have already had success with both dogs and am getting amazingly tight turns and incredible speed - especially out of Travis!

I know there are many local handlers and trainers out there against the European handling style. All I can say is that we should all do what works for us and works for our dogs. One is not better than the other and there is simply no denying that both work.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

New Years Resolutions

I decided to make some resolutions this year. The boys decided to follow suit as well. So here they are...

Mine:

1) No more caffeine. I've broken this one already,  but I swear it is the last one!

2) No more artificial sweeteners.  I've read loss of nasty stuff about them and I vow to keep them out of my diet as much as humanly possible. Again I have already broken this one but I swear it is the last!

3) Exercise, purposefully,  at least 3 days a week. Gym membership will finally come in handy for something other than making it easily to locate my car keys.

4) Keep active during the evenings instead of "relaxing". By "relaxing" I mean parking my very round rear end on the couch for an inexcusable amount of time each night.

5) Asleep by 10:30 each night. Should make mornings easier and help avoid snoozing the alarm clock 25 times before rolling out of bed 20 minutes before having to leave for work. Will also eliminate bad hair days. 

6) Train my dogs more often and with purpose. They can now change and take out the garbage but they can't heel worth a darn.

7) "Cure" Indie's fear of people. We know we can't really cure this, I'm not sure I really want to as it keeps people away. Indie and I are not people people/dog.

8) Learn how to use my new sowing machine. I wanted one and I got one and now it must earn its keep... or at least I do.

9) Use my new sowing machine for good,  not evil.

Travis:

1) Eat less snow.

2) If I fail at #1, then I will make a better effort not to barf afterwards.

3) I will bring the ball back after Mom or Dad throws it,  instead of just chasing it.

4) I'll make a better effort to hold my contacts during trials instead of making Mom look like a fool.

5) I will stop hoovering treats out of people's hands. It's rude and a little frightening.

6) Eat less cat poop.

7) If I fail at #6, then at least be less obvious about it.

Indie:

1) Bark less at things that aren't even there. I know they aren't there but I like the treats that Mom and Dad offer afterwards. Can we saw "whiped".

2) Really bark less at things that are there. Intruder alert! Intruder alert!

3) Stop encouraging Travis to eat cat poop. It's just so funny!

4) Make nice with weave poles #10 and #11. They do not bite!

5) Acknowledge that heeling is not a foot race with Mom. You snooze you lose.

6) Stop chasing the cats.

7) When I fail at #6, at least stop putting their heads in my mouth. No one likes to pet a wet kitty.

8) Stop trying to jump into the car crates when the door is still closed. This just makes everyone look dumb.

9) Acknowledge that only getting in to my own crate - not just the closest one - gets me a cookie. Being in the same crate as Travis, at the same time, does not earn bonus cookies for style.

10) Stop overreacting to the following things/actions: the gas stove, the hood fan, the oven,  the dish washer,  the breadmaker, the Magic Bullet, burning candles,  doorbells, doorbells on TV, imaginary doorbells, doors opening, doors closing, imaginary doors opening and closing,  children I can hear but not see,  joggers,  garbage trucks, the wind,  vacuum cleaner, dust rags,  tin foil, hair dryer, car exhaust, motor cyclists following behind our car, white dogs that resemble sheep...

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