Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So proud (part two)

On my way to the match on Friday I reviewed what my plan was for Gali. I was really looking forward to seeing where Gali is at in terms of when he'll be ready to trial. The seek back exercise went as planned, he managed to jump the bar on the way back to me, but no biggy. It was really, really hot in the arena, so setting up for articles I wondered how Galibwas coping and if what I was seeing was the heat or the fact that we had a male steward hovering at the ring gate. I let him do the first article and I thought he did a great job with it. To test my theory on heat vs man at gate, I asked the ring steward to back up a bit before Gali did his second article. I think he was pretty much his normal happy self, so I guess he was just hot. He had to work his second article much harder than the first and really did a nice job with the whole exercise. For signals I used my one verbal praise that I had planned about 5 steps before we started signals, everything wad going well, I gave my drop signal and he dropped like a stone, but immediately lifted his elbows back off the matts. I re-enforced the drop told him he was a good boy and went on to the sit, which was lovely. I had planned to feed after each signal, but didn't feed the drop because he popped up. My lesson learned wad that I have been putting too much focus on the sit. Moving stand went fine, one little movement on the exam. Our go outs were going to be tough, Gali has done few go outs in context away from home. I did the one short go I had planned, but it didn't help, he went to the jump. I reset a couple of times and had moderate success. His directed jumping was fine. So no real surprises from the whole run, he is pretty much where I thought he was. I was very happy with his heeling and his attitude was fantastic. So over all I am proud of my curly bum dog!!

So proud

While I sit here watching the FIFA world cup soccer, I am reflecting about the match on Friday night. It was a tough one for me because I would have been Presto's 12th birthday. I am certainly struggling with getting back in the game since losing Quinn and Presto at Christmas time. So for me this match was a big deal. The result is that I am very proud of myself for going and enjoying being with my dog show friends and being able to concentrate on what I wanted to achieve. I'll come back to Gali and Ribbon in a minute.

What was really cool for me is watching the people that train with me do there thing at this match. I was sitting in the stands taking in the atmostphere and I realized that all three rings had Companion Dog Training students in them. I was so proud to see their dogs working with attention and tails wagging. What impressed me the most is that they all had a plan. I saw Dawn rewarding fronts and keeping Emma relaxed in utility. Cheryl was working Indigo and was keeping her attention between exercises and alternating rewards of food and a tug toy in the novice ring. In the open ring Angela was working her green open dog and making sure he knew what exercise he was doing and spending time playing with him between exercises. If the dogs made mistakes all three handlers dealt with the mistake quickly and got the dog back on track. There were quite a few others that also did a fabulous job. I have to admit to feeling a little pressure to do just as good a job. One little side note is that Jaimie St. Maurice and her Beardie Windy, finished their CDX and HIT!!! Way to go you two!!!

I will post later and tell you how I handled the pressure of having such great students!!!
My family is calling me for dinner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It is a rainy Wednesday morning, I have some time before classes begin this morning to think about my training plan for the match this Friday. Gali is going to do utility, this is his first match away from his own training hall. The match is at Pine Point arena, a place we both are very comfortable at. In fact Gali has earned one Novice HIT and one Open HIT at this venue. My plan is to Play around with warm up exercises just like novice and open, keeping him relaxed and animated with games. I will add some tug with his glove and reward response to his signals. I want him to walk into that ring like he owns it. I am going to do seek back formally, reward his set for the articles and reward after each article. For signals I am planning on one verbal praise and then 8 steps away for signals. When he gets his drop and sit I will run in and reward, then back away for the recall. For moving stand I need to remember to fade to the right do that he always has a direct line of sight to me. This seems to help him keep his feet still during the exam. Depending upon his attitude I may do a food toss recall to keep him going strong. I am planning one short go out and then back up for two full distance go outs and directed jumping.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The things you never stop working on (part three)

Hey this is my second post of the night!!! Good for me...
Finishes... the simple little exercise that can bring your score down in a hurry.  I will admit that training the "fiddly" stuff is not my favorite, so over the years I developed ways of teaching the left and right finishes that I find interesting.  For the left finish I like to see my dogs lift out of the front position and then use their rear end to complete the exercise.  I focus on the tidiness of the finish and the intensity of the eye contact between my dog and I.  One of the pickiest definitions is that the spine is paralel with the handler and the dog's front feet are not ahead of the handler's feet.  This is the definition I go with.  I use a my fronting chute for finishes.  I think it helps the dog to do the job all by himself and because a properly fitted chutes allows very little room for error the reinforcement on the exercise is high. 

Here is a list of things to cover in your training sessions: Keep note of which way he is most accurate in the different situations for use later in the ring, just in case you lose half a point on a front you can save yourself another half point deduction by using he most accurate finish.

  • Finishes from not perfect fronts.  Position your dog so that he is off center.  Send him in either direction.  
  • Finishes from a stand.  Place the dog in a stand about 1 foot from proper front position.  Practice sending the dog on a verbal or a signal in this situation.  Your goal is to find out if the dog understands his cue for finishes in different situations. 
  • Right finishes from heel position.  Will the dog go all the way around you and return to heel position??
  • Perpindicular set-ups.  Position yourself so that you are perpindicular to your dog (he would be staring at your left hip) Have him do a finishes from this position. 
Always ask yourself how many finishes you should be doing in a row.  It can be pretty dull from the dog's point of view.  Play in-between sets of finish work.  Reward random parts of the finish to keep his reaction prompt and his expression relaxed and interested in what you are doing.  Extra special reaction for a job well done never goes un-noticed by your dog.  Even for the most food driven dog, a regular "Good Boy" piece of food in the mouth doesn't hold a candle to a "WOW.. you are so smart!!!!" big smile on your face, cookie in the mouth reaction. 

I'm back

My new computer has arrived... finally and the Ontario agility regionals are over, so now I can settle back into my routine of writing.  The regionals were lots of fun and on thursday night I stayed by myself in the trailer with 3 dogs and did some work on my new book.  I started the turns chapter and got started on a new topic about corrections/commands and how to keep them separate to reduce stress in training.  Writing must take more energy than I remember, I was totally consumed by the turns topic.  I don't think I was talking aloud, but I glanced up from my computer to find Echo, Ribbon and Gali staring at me.  It was interesting and weird at the same time. 

If all goes well the book should be out in the spring/summer of 2011.  In the short term I will be making every effort to post more regularily.  It would be great if you would post some comments/questions too.