This weekend Bug and I attended three (3) four-hour seminars put on by our club, Act-Up. The presenter was Debi Hutchinson who has a great reputation for distance and discrimination work. Bug and I worked Handling Fundamentals (Sat. a.m.) and Novice Distance (Sun. a.m.); I audited Discrimination (Sat. p.m.).
Debi is an excellent teacher and I felt like she was really positive and supportive of each individual handler-dog team, and gave each team excellent individualized instruction/pointers. I think I got the most out of the Handling Fundamentals seminar which I didn’t even plan on working. I had signed Bug up for the Discrimination seminar, but where his contacts are still not 100% - and in truth he is a baby dog – I didn’t feel it was the best fit. I am SO glad I was able to switch him to Handling Fundamentals!
Then we went back to working the tunnel sends but with a gate prohibiting us for continuing our forward motion and no Debi waiting at the end of the tunnel. Bug does not really have a send yet and he is very cued into my motion. I have a terrible habit of stopping my motion abruptly and Bug says, “Huh? I guess I should stop too.” We had to move the gate closer for us so that I could support Bug.
Debi talked a lot about being committed to your mistakes, ex: if you forget where you are going. She said, “A thousand and one things could go wrong but you want the dog to think he is brilliant and you’re brilliant.” She wanted us to reward and incorporate – not fix. She says the stress of fixes often bite you in the butt 3 obstacles later (I believe she said Sharon Nelson pointed this out to her). Debi said by “fixing” you ultimately lose drive. Hmmm….both Katrin and Kathleen say/do variations of this. They both stress rewarding your dog when you get lost or make a “mistake.”
Then we ran the entire course. At the tunnel I repeatedly stopped my forward motion too soon and too abruptly. Then when Bug did take the tunnel I neglected to take a break and reward him (GAH!). Coming out of the tunnel #7 I was way ahead of Bug. Debi had me do it again. She said Bug is a dog that, at least right now, likes me to do 50% of the work and being so far ahead of him is demotivating. Hmmm…I think we touched on this in class just this past Tuesday.
So to recap:
I have a tendency to put the brakes on – I need to appear to be moving to support my dog.
If things go wrong incorporate and reward.
Reward more frequently.
If I have to go into the curve of a tunnel or really deep into an obstacle pocket WAIT for my dog and drive out together – don’t be waiting for them further down the course.
As Debi said these things I couldn’t help smiling because Kathleen has been saying these things to me recently and Katrin has said some of them in the past. Debi asked if it sounds familiar, due to my smile and head shaking. Unfortunately yes. I am working hard at changing it, but I do believe in times of stress – even times you don’t think are stressful, like a seminar – you revert. And of course, in all honesty, I haven’t kicked these habits yet.
All in all it was an excellent seminar. I think Bug and I both got a lot out of it. I think Ike would have enjoyed it too.
More tomorrow. Right now, I am too tired to blog about auditing the Discrimination seminar or this morning's Novice Distance seminar. Needless to say I learned a lot in both!
5 days ago