Monday, November 14, 2011

Dawn Weaver Seminar

Tangle and I did a half day seminar with Dawn Weaver. For those of you who aren't familiar, she is one of the top handlers over in the UK.

The seminar we took was Intermediate/Advanced Handling. Dawn has developed her handling methods based on what her dogs have responded to over the years. It does include motion, and verbals. Since European agility is a win based system. That is, you must win to progress, their focus for training and running is much different from ours. They train the dogs to drive and be obstacle focused. In the absence of a cue, Dawn wants her dog to continue to drive through the course and their line. She focuses on cuing in a fashion that never leaves the dog second guessing (therefor slowing down). Not a bad goal really. They never reward their dogs "on them", that is they always reward in a way that promotes drive like throwing the toy.

Dawn is very firm about positive training. She believes that dogs are basically honest and don't try to do the wrong thing. If they took a wrong course in a trial, it is because you cued it. You better figure out what you did to cue it.

Rather than focusing on exclusively jumping, we spent quite a bit of time working on handling and trying in a short session to understand how she handles her dogs. When Dawn handles she has the concept of the accelerator arm and the break hand. The accelerator arm is the arm closest to the dog and must support the dogs path and obstacles. The break hand (arm extended out with a flat hand) tells the dog that they must collect (probably a turn is coming up). She also uses the outside arm much like Greg Derrett would do as a cue for the dog to come into you. The middle jump on a serp (or snake as she calls it) is a great example of this.

Anyway, we enjoyed our time, I took away a few ideas, but I wouldn't say that the seminar was stellar. I was wanting more feedback on jumping and speed specifically.

A couple of tid bits that we took away. Hopefully they make sense out of context:

  • Every front cross should be proceeded with the break hand

  • You must run (draw with your path) the line that you want the dog to take

  • Always be even (parallel) with the dog when layering, otherwise they will come into you

  • Reward away from you--throw the toy

  • Inside arm should never drop until the dog clears the bar (otherwise the bar will come down)

  • Always reward after a rear cross with a baby dog

The season slows down

Three or four years ago I use to take off from about October through December from agility. Then gradually trials were scheduled and it become too tempting to resist and I would schedule a trial or two (probably more).

This year I have decided for the pups sake that I needed to get back to the "time of rest". Let their bodies recover from agility, and restore my mind. So from now until the end of the year we will slow down our practice, trials and agility what not. We are not taking a break completely from the exercise, brain work and fun, after all I do own Border Collies. We will just change what we are doing. We will take time to enjoy each others company in different ways.

So, we are taking walks, stretching, jogging, swimming (at an indoor pool), and learning new tricks. Tip and Split will have the time almost completely off from agility. Tangle will get to do a couple of one day seminars, a class or two and perhaps a trial. He doesn't take to the slower schedule like the older dogs do yet.