Monday, February 7, 2011

A weekend with Mary Ellen Barry and Jen Crank

Just got finished with a 4 day seminar and I am trying to boil down everything I heard and put all the pieces in their respective places: action plans, changes in philosophy, tweaking of how I approach training, great ideas, and many many more...

The seminar was great as usual and had a chance to work on everything from puppy agility (Tangle) to World Team difficult courses (Tip). Before I go into all the things that I need to improve, I will say that I definitely had moments that I was proud of! Tip and I ran some very, very difficult sequences this weekend. We held our own and did well. I am proud once again on how far we have come. Tangle did an excellent job this weekend of being well behaved and never got out of control. Anytime that he would begin to go over-the-top, I would ask him to work doing something simple and he was always able to work!

Little light bulb factoids
  • In determining what your end behavior will look like, find an example that you think is awesome and don't stop until your dog's behavior looks like that one (probably blog on this idea more)
  • In terms of training, if I don't have an example, I need to keep asking myself "could this be better"
  • Use immediate feedback on behaviors. Change intonation between a great behavior and a poor behavior. I am NOT consistent on this, but trying to get better.
  • It is appropriate to use your outside arm to show the dog the "wall that they can not pass" when doing running on the flat.
  • Smooth things out (my last blog explains this)

I brought home pieces of knowledge to help me with all three dogs, but interestingly enough, I learned more things that will help me with Split (the dog that I didn't have at the seminar--he is injured). From the 4 days I have a better understanding of what I did right with Split and where I feel short on his training. Also places where I realize my criteria is not what it needs to be for him.

Split was my first dog that I tried to follow APHS for foundation and handling. His foundation was light years ahead of Tip's. But, now that I know more, I can spot the holes in the training. All a part of the learning process. So, this weekend I came home with some ideas to clean up some of his foundation holes.

Forward motion cued from behind - Split still does not read well forward motion from behind. Although it is not my ideal handling position by any means, he does need to understand it.

Tight turns - I have let Split get away with not turning tight. I have some ideas on how to clear up some of that. Cone work, have him turn around and around a cone. Or send to the cone, rotate fully around, and then continue on forward motion in the same direction as he entered. The full rotation will be him tighter. I need to do these with Tangle as well.

Help Split with his softness - keep shaping things with him, it teaches a dog how to be wrong and just try another idea, rather than shut down.

Run the path you want the dog to be on - when I can start running Split again I need to pay attention to this with him. He can skip obstacles, but this might be why.

Weave poles - do the "poles" game. Restrained recall, say "weaves", and he should look at this first pole. A way to get them super high before they hit the poles, it is a way to proof, certainly not to first learn.

Taking food as a reward - I need to go back and improve this

I will admit, everything that I need to improve with Tangle are all skills that are not fun for me to do! There, I said it!! Mary Ellen was very good at pointing out reasons this weekend why you want to put the work into these skills and what the pay off will be.

Part of my learning process is understanding WHY I want to do something. I know, I am one of those pain in the ass students, but truly, I was raised to always ask why if I didn't understand and now it is hard for me to just blindly follow the advice and do it without understanding WHY!

So, my home work with Tangle and I am very committed to this!!

  • Go back and review all my turns on the flat and get them to where they are fluid for me. Then begin to apply motion to those turns.
  • Clean up his one cone work and then I can begin to apply more cones to the equation.
  • Continue my shaping work
  • His right turns are tighter than his left turns, even this out.

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