Posts Tagged ‘Susan Garrett’

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Party Crasher at Novice Camp

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

 

Snapping Turtle

Pre-historic visitor to agility camp!

Well Novice camp started off with some excitement as this young lady decided she needed to lay her eggs right at the end of my opening sequence!  Every year at the end of May-first week of June, the turtles come up from the pond to lay their eggs. We have two varieties, the cutie-putie type painted turtles and the sort picture here which are snapping turtles.  

The snappers, luckily for us, prefer the water in our woods behind our house at it is a running creek.  The dogs never go back there as the brush is pretty thick. The only worry is this time of year when they come up onto our hay field to lay eggs.

It was entertaining for all of us, as it usually is each year, but this girl wouldn’t leave us alone!   John put up a snow fence to keep the dog’s away from her while she finished her job but once she was done she came up onto the agility field to get a closer look. That is when John loaded her into this wheel barrow to take her back to the woods.

After that adventure was over we all settled into have quite a great camp! It was suggested throughout camp on several occasions that “that was a gem Susan, you have to post it to your blog” so here I will leave you with one of them.

I commented to the group to not be concerned about the speed of their novice dogs. I spend a lot of time rewarding my young dogs close at my hips or “reinforcement zone” as Greg Derrett coined the phrase. In the midst of sequences I will often reward a dog for driving back to RZ. For this reason they are not all “launchy” and “powerful” when we start running courses together.

I used the example of Feature and Encore. When each of them came out most people commented on how “slow”  each one looked. At Feature’s first two trials she could not get within 3 seconds of any of Encore’s times. Only a couple of weeks ago John said to me he thought she would never be as fast as Encore. Well even though that would not change how I felt about her, I was pretty sure John was wrong and she proved it last weekend at the Ontario Regionals.

You shouldn’t want your novice dogs to be frantically grabbing obstacles, squirreling around like mad. The power and the speed will come, but the time spent working on the finesse will pay off down the road. It is far easier to teach collection and thoughtfulness to your young dog before they realize they are equipped with a 400 horsepower engine and a set of Pireili tires– then after!

Today I am grateful for the improvement every dog and handler showed over the 2 days at the camp formerly known as “Novice” camp.  See you all next year at “Growing the Teamwork Camp!”

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An Epidemic of “Buck Fever”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My observations from the Ontario regionals this week can be summed up by a comment I am borrowing from a friend. I was talking to a business colleague yesterday and he used the phrase “Buck Fever.”  He spoke about how a marksman on the practice range can hit any target in any situation or environmental stressor. However put that same shooter out in the bush with the adrenaline pumping and he can’t hit the broad side of a barn. Now as a vegan I may not be crazy about an analogy of hunting down a defenseless animal, however the point is a good one and one I saw played out a lot at the Ontario regionals this past weekend.

I saw many competitors, some my students, some just people I have seen at trials in the past that normally execute pretty well. Their handling choices are normally decent, decision making about “what to do if things do not go as planned” is generally instinctively good. However put these people in a “big event” such as the Ontario regionals and they are stricken with Buck Fever.

Suddenly handling becomes less sensible and more erratic, feet don’t move when they should and the mouth goes when it shouldn’t. At home or in an “regular weekend trial” this doesn’t happen. The biggest problem is that your dog counts on your calm, insightful direction to get him around the course. Once Buck Fever hits, your handling resembles someone juiced up on triple expresso swatting at an annoying mosquito in the dark. 

So what is the antidote to Buck Fever? This may be depressing for some of you but, the best antidote to Buck Fever is success. The more you rehearse being at a big event and handling the way you want the more likely it is that you will be able to do it again and again.  Of course immunity starts only with a solid understanding of dog training and handling. There is no cure without consistency away from the big events. Remember you need to be able to hit the easy targets at home first!

I still suffer from occasional minor bouts of BF myself, especially when I run a new dog for the first time. However just like your immune system, recovery is faster the more you have fought it off in the past. So this past weekend my standard, jumpers and Steeplechase runs with Feature where all pretty good.  I was completely relaxed (cold due to the weather but relaxed) going in. Even on Saturday where it was Day One and we were the first team on the line to start the competition, we ran well and she was only a few tenths of a second behind Encore who won the class. No BF for me here.

Where I did get hit a bit was in the Gamblers class. Quiet honestly it is because I rarely do Gamblers in Canada and it is a lot harder than anywhere else in the world (to start there is a minimum of 18′ distance challenge).

The first step to overcoming BF for all of us is to rehearse success.  Don’t wait for it, go out and create your own success. Since the judge won’t let us have a “do over” you need to rehearse this success in your mind before you go in.  Run your run many times before you step to the line. Then when you actually step into the ring you are on one of your “do overs.”  You should know exactly where every obstacle is, how you plan on executing,  what your next move is and when you need to leave to get there.

Recently someone posed a question to the blog about what to do when your visualization before a run turns to crap.  When you can’t seem to visualize your run without your dog going off course or knocking a bar. Here is a secret I learned from my good friend Greg Louganis. It is a good one, so take note. Allow it to happen. Don’t visualize only the perfect runs. If you brain needs to open the door where crap happens, go ahead and look in through that door.  Acknowledge that that scenario is one of many possible outcomes. How are you feeling? Did you cause the error?  How can you compensate for it?  Adjust and finish that run with your ‘blip’ in it. Acknowledge that you still love your dog just as much even though you didn’t run perfectly together. There is still no world peace and the outcome of your run hasn’t changed anything of any real importance in your life. Now you should be able to close the door of failure and go back to visualizing success. 

Learn from your struggles to visualize. I struggled visualizing my second gamblers runs this weekend with both Encore and Feature but I ignored it. Perhaps next time this happens I will look at possibly altering my opening plan until I could visualize it well and go with what I have succesfully run in my own mind. This is not, by any means, all the mental prep anyone needs to do well in sport, but it is a start.

 Realize that Buck Fever hits everyone hard at some point in their career but it is not fatal. It is a normal process for anyone putting themselves out there to be judged in any walk of life. It is simply an affliction that attacks our humility.  A full recovery can be expected.  You can build your immunity first by improving your handling and dog training skills.  However resistance to disease does come with continued exposure. So don’t step away from your chance to perform under pressure, you will get better eventually. Everyone that sticks with it does. Rather than judging yourself, learn from your experiences and as the slogan from this weekend says, learn to “enjoy the ride.”

Today I am grateful for the booster shot against Buck Fever that I received this weekend. Just like most inoculations, it often hurts at first, but the long term benefits are worth the momentary pain.

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Positive Results from the Weekend

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Ontario Regionals has been put to bed. The rain, wind, hail and 9 degree temperature made us all very grateful for the bit of blue sky we saw on occasion on Sunday afternoon.

Our championships up here in Canada are geared towards consistency across the Jumpers, Standard and Gamblers classes.  I tend not to work Gamblers too much at home, so my focus is always to do well in the regular classes. I have been doing more distance work at home but trying to balance with close work as to not lose what I have in my handling relationship with my dogs. Remember balance.

Well, we had an outstanding weekend in the regular classes with either Encore or Feature winning all of the 26″ Jumpers and Standard classes and Feature winning the Steeplechase finals as icing on the cake (Encore ran in 22″ and had a bar in the finals). 

However my lack of focus showed with Feature in Gamblers where I tried mini gamblers (not a good plan with a dog that has had less than 5 months of showing). If I had been more patient and just tried to accumulate points she would have been the overall winner as well. In the end she was 2nd place in the overall championship, 1 point behind Tiffany Salmon’s great (world team) dog “Rio”. In 6 classes Feautre had 2 1st place finishes, 2 fourths and only 1 fault (knocking one of the last bars of her last round of the weekend).

I didn’t bring along my re-charger for my video but Lynda’s husband, Johnnie-videographer-“Spielberg,” caught my runs for me.  This is one of my favourites  however there are a few more up on my youtube site (www.youtube.com/clickerdogs)

Last year I had to sit out the Ontario Regionals as my back went out and for a full week I couldn’t walk without the use of a cane. Even though this past weekend we had to ran in mud, rain, hail and freezing temperatures; I am happy and grateful to report all is well with my health. God is good:)!


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Software Issues, Ontario Regionals and Baby Dee

Thursday, May 28, 2009

No there is not connection between my software issues and the Ontario regionals (sorry if I scared any of you:)).  I was hoping to post the first installment of my latest 2×2 training webinar however my program crashed yesterday and I can’t figure out why.  

I can tell you I have divided the posts/questions into roughly 4 categories; speed, trial behaviours, failing and miscellaneous.  Oh yeah I did include another category on success stories so anyone reading the blog won’t think that EVERYONE has issues with 2×2 training! The miscellaneous category covers things like poles skipping, footwork, weight shift etc. Right now I have  total of 26 good weave pole questions. Sorry I couldn’t leave you with an installment here, but I promise one way or another I will answer then (even if just the old fashion way of typing:)) in the next two weeks.

I leave today for the Ontario Regionals in Ottawa. I am a bit sad as this my first regional event ever that I will not be running a mini dog. I made the decision to retire DeCaff from competition, likely all competition. She is only 9 years old but at 5 was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and it was suggested then that her career was over. With the help of Prolo therapy we got 3 1/2 more years of doing agility together. I will definitely do a blog post on the “wow” factor of prolo therapy in the future. It is nothing short of miraculous (Encore has also had it for her hip that is a bit wanky).

It is difficult to make the decision to stop running DeCaff because she is still loving it and still winning. However I know it is the right thing to do so as difficult as it, is De-dog and I will be finding joy in our walks, swimming and just hanging out together (she is turning into a bit of a pork-pie though!)

Today I am so grateful for all the amazing runs DeCaff and I have shared together during her career in agility. In her seven years competing she made to the USDAA finals 6 times winning once, coming 2nd twice and placing in the top 5 every time except once. She place in the Steeplechase finals every year except one and was the  IFCS World Champion two times  with countless individual medals along the way. It has been a great journey but agility is only a small part of the life I share with my dogs and I don’t want it to jeopardize her quality of life as she grows older.  So now a new chapter of our life together will begin.

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Food for Thought

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hmmmm. Some thought provoking statements in this article although alot goes against good sound science, I have to admit I do agree with much of what is written.

Check out this article  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2009226383_dogs16.html

“Dogs are thinking animals,” Bekoff said. “They seek the outcomes they want. They avoid the ones they don’t. They solve problems. They have expectations. They have hopes.”  This is just shaping isn’t it? Reinforcement really does build behaviour!

Enjoy your day, we here in Alberton are having a blast with Susan Salo. Sorry but the weave pole webinar I am working on is looking like it may be a two parter. Stay tuned, will launch them, but likely not until next week.  Trust me it will be worth the wait!

Today I am grateful for some nice weather while Susan Salo is here to share her jumping magic!

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Susan Salo Workshop At Say Yes

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

IMG_4150Susan Salo is here for the next week, although a few of us are sneaking out on the weekend to support our one and only USDAA trial in Ontario.  Susan has been coming around here so long now, I am sure our absence won’t be noticed!  We have a great group of “repeaters” here for Susan’s mid-week workshop.  “Repeaters” being, people that have worked with Susan on multiple occasions.

As usual Susan started off with a brief morning lecture. And again as usual, Susan had some profound logic to share with us all.  Often times Susan is just phrasing common sense in a

Lynda's Favor working at Susan Salo's workshop.way that affects people differently that day. One comment she made yesterday  morning I felt necessary to really emphasize for all. I added that it was sage advise applicable to all of dog training when Susan said of jumping “it is important that you never have a static lesson plan. Read your dog after each repetition and know what he needs at that point. Be flexible and willing to adapt your plan for that session to suit the current needs of the dog.”   

I think of this statement as it relates to people following the 2×2 method of weave pole training. The DVD presents a lesson plan to train or re-train your dog. However it may not be in your dog’s best interest to try to keep up with the pace that I set with the dogs that use for I demonstrations.  You shouldn’t try to push a dog along if his actions and success rate is telling you he is not ready for a bigger challenge.

Another gem I got from Susan was when we were discussing the current popular practice of punishing dogs for dropped bars (something neither Susan nor I approve of). Susan’s comment was; “you can not prepare for peace while you are a planning for war” when she was describing the conflict of trying to build a jump education while using punishment. 

Those of you struggling with teaching your dogs to jump please know it is not an overnight or even an over-month fix. It is a career long process and perfection is elusive, all you can aim for is a constant improvement. For the sake of the dog, that has got to be enough for you. If you do not have a current jump education program for your dog, I strongly recommend Susan Salo’s Jumping DVD as a place to start.  When you get it, print of the PDF that is on the disc and follow along from that handout while you watch the DVD.  It is never to late to go back and give your dog a new beginning!

Today I am grateful for the continual improvement I have seen with my own dog’s jump education.

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Very Impressed. . . really!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seriously, thanks guys. Some awesome ideas came in yesterday. Any of you tuning into my blog today, looking for some great dog training content, go back and read what other people posted on the blog yesterday about prioritizing your life. Here is a quote that came in late that personally struck a cord with me; “being right brained doesn’t mean I have to live in choas.” Thanks Misa, I have got that one printed out already!  

It is not like I am new to this stuff. Crap, I spent 15 years in Corporate-Canada. In those years, I did lots of continuing education training, so it is not like I haven’t learned about list making, prioritizing etc.  With that in mind, I love the input you guys have shared about how you have made everything that is important in your life stay important.

So as to not distract from the importance of everyone else’s message. I am not going to bring up any new topic today. If you have any more time managment, prioritize lessons to share, post away, good stuff guys!

Today I am overwhelmed and grateful for the responsiveness of this blog. You guys ROCK!