Sunday, March 29, 2009

Its not easy being green

Well, Tip (my experienced dog) is on rehab rest for a couple of months so Split gets all my attention.

We just came off of a week vacation to the Pacific NW and had a grand time. Thought I would take Split out to brush off the dust and get ready for next week's trial. What I realized in practice, he is an AWESOME dog! I already knew that, but the universe just keeps reminding me.

Practicing with Split today gave me the following list of things I need to always remember (I know them, I just keep forgetting to practice them):
  1. It is really about what the handler needs to practice/learn
  2. Deceleration gets him to turn in (the more dramatic the tighter the turn)
  3. Pausing ( like declaration) gets him to adjust his path into me
  4. Take your time out on course
  5. Sometimes it is the dog that chooses what will be worked on that day

The short story behind each of these bullets...

  1. Since Split is my second dog I knew better how to train the foundation skills. I am just beginning to realize the value and wisdom of what I have taught him. I taught them, but didn't completely understand how to apply them. So, now when I am practicing with Split, the practice is really about what I need to practice in order to follow the rules that I taught him. He follows the rules when we run and when I follow them too, we have an awesome run. This covers my first three statements.
  2. Although Split is smarter than I, he is still green. He needs my support. If I can just remember to lengthen the 'moments' in each run, it will go better. For instance, take my time, point out what I need him to do (it only takes a split second) and then move on to the next thing. Split, unlike Tip needs permission to do each obstacle. So, if I take the time to give permission it will build his confidence. In time, permission might be just a glace at the obstacle instead of a hand pointing at it for a full second.
  3. The fifth statement was one that I didn't have to learn so much with Tip. Tip is always motivated, and not much shuts her down. Split on the other hand is motivated, until something shuts him down. Sometimes you can spot what is it me getting too intense. Sometimes the horses in the next field could have scared him. So, when he is shutting down or being scared, what gets trained that day is what he finds fun! Or how it gets trained is totally different. I am learning that if he has no issues, the Frisbee might be too much stimulation. If he is having issues, the Frisbee is just right! It brings the fun back and distracts him from his troubles. The other part of this statement came from today's practice: he forgot how to sit! OK, we all know that he didn't forget, but that is what it was like. So, instead of fighting that today (cause that shuts him down), I just changed how we did things in order to keep the games going. For instance, put a table on the start line and he would 'sit' on it. So, that is what we did. We will work on sit in other ways this week.

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