Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nonpartisan Post

Sometimes I’m surprised at how hard it can be to find time to jot down my thoughts. I didn’t think I had that many? But I guess life has been pretty demanding. So that, plus a Leader living in her head equals not a ton of production and output for the past few months.  I thought though that I might try and shake a few things out to make room for what’s coming up. 
Pensive Pup lives in her head too.
It’s been some forced rest since the Nationals. The Dog showed me immediately after that she needed a break.  She pretty much mentally collapsed as soon as we got home; all agility knowledge fell out of her brain and she reverted to freezing and questioning.  We thought maybe it was all a bit too much, holding herself together so well for so many days in Colorado and in the time leading up, but there was likely also ME to blame: I needed a break too.  She is smart. She picks up on these things. So we broke so that we wouldn't end up all broken.

We are showing this weekend though.  Back at it, and then back off it for another month, taking it nice and easy through the rest of the year.  While I’d sure love some Jumpers Qs and a few things knocked out for Nationals next year, I think the reconnection with the dogs is a better goal.
Yeah. I said dogs. Plural.  Running The Pup again. We haven’t trained much agility with her. Just lots of time working on life skills. Like, How Not to Be an A$$. What to Bite Instead of The Dog, volumes one and two. Stop Barking and Go Lay Down.  I had noticed how much more focus and control she had back in the day when all we did was Smart Puppy (behavior) Skillz. Moving over to more agility training, less skill work was a bad move (apparently).   She knows equipment. She knows handling.  These are not what she needs to practice.  Hence, return to Smart Puppy.

This discovery was well-timed; Jen Pinder was in town last weekend and had many observations.  She was not fooled by The Pup’s excellent drivey agility and called her out for what she is. That would be, a thief. Among other things.  So having realized what she needed, I got a lot of ideas on how to get her there.  No telling that anything will have rubbed off in time for the weekend, but at least she is slightly easier to deal with in general.  Someday she will have patience. And coping skills under pressure. And the ability to drive and think at the same time. Surely?

As a note, I really liked Jen. The seminars focused a lot on contacts and I think it was the right move given her talents there. She had some fantastic observations, helpful ideas, and process guidance that was so in depth. Contact foundation to the extreme.  I audited most of it and came away filled with tips on training and mechanics and…everything.  There is a real science to it that I hadn’t realized.  I’ve been a bit, well, whatever, as long as you have criteria that you and your dog get that you maintain, it works. But the details of the position itself really matter for whether or not it will hold up over time.  There is really too much to say, but I think I will be a better teacher going forward and will be able to do things with my own dogs in an optimal way.

I will say though, I had a lot of Ah-Has! over The Dog’s teeter performance.  At the base is her issue with not liking the reverberation of the plank. And where she was “stopping” trying to hold a 4 on was right in the reverb sweet spot.  Add in letting her lay down on the teeter…  And not having her release forward… Ah-HA!  No wonder she hated the end and boinked off the side.  (Plus, I had let her run it sometimes. Oops.)  So I was at least on the right track a few months ago when I asked her to start doing a 2o2o, but now we have the rest of the formula and- wait for it- she actually is driving her teeter! And waiting!  She is a nerd; I should have known she would take to more criteria.  Now though, let’s see how well the Leader remembers to uphold it. 
After this weekend, a seminar with The Pup, and then like I said- nice and easy for a few months. I want to teach my dogs silly things again, have a life, and probably deal with some things I should have a year ago.

Er, but first I have to finish all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  
Can you believe how long I have been doing this??

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