Monday, January 28, 2008

Sonic's first seminar

It’s hard to believe, but the Greg & Laura Derrett seminars have been and gone. The Advanced handling seminar was fantastic. Greg presented us with a whole array of new things to think about. It was all centred around the Blind Cross Body Line (BCBL) and using your positional cues to always indicate where your dog is going next. Riot was fantastic over the three days in really hot and uncomfortable conditions. Greg thought that he had improved a lot since last year, however there is still loads of work to go yet!! I think the hardest thing to keep up is just making sure you are consistent with the handling method. It is just too easy to run a course and change your handling to suit it, instead of keeping your handling system the same no matter what the course presents. I am determined however to try and push myself to keep the system going with Riot. Then hopefully by the time Sonic is ready to go it will just be natural for me to run him the right way all the time…

Laura’s puppy class that I did with Sonic was heaps of fun. She is such a great instructor keeping things interesting and fun for everyone. Most of the things she showed us I have already started doing with Sonic (although most still need loads more work!!) but it just highlighted to me what is more important and how much stronger I need those behaviours to be. I feel that now I can come up with a more structured plan with slightly altered goals in mind.

Some of the things we went over was the importance of tugging, playing the “it’s your choice” game, nose touches, restrained recalls, perch work, teaching balance, two on two off on a plank while nose touching, weight shift to their rear ends, hind end awareness, wobble board, jump bumps, rear cross body language, shadow handling, bang game with the see saw, restrained recalls for teaching drive forward, deceleration and front crosses and plank work on the middle piece of dog walk. All of it was centred around the puppy learning by high level reinforcement so when it comes time to teach equipment in around six to eight months time the drive to perform the basic behaviours is already there.

My goals with Sonic for the immediate future is to really build up his nose touches. I’m now using 75% of his morning and evening meal to do nose touches and I’ve just introduced circle work. When I’m at training I want to continue working his stays but I also want to do more restrained recalls, teaching him to drive to me as hard and fast as he can whether I’m stationary or running away from him. Then adding in front crosses and decel so he learns to really read my body language and cue his position from it.

I was so pleased with Sonic over the seminar. It was stinking hot both days but no matter what I asked of him he worked for me. He tugged like a trooper to the bitter end even after all the other puppies were well over it (except his brother Billy of course who was a star also :-)). Initially he was a bit overwhelmed as we were working inside a hall and the new environment was a bit much for him. The noise that was generated from eight puppies playing tug was considerable to say the least!! It didn’t take him long to adjust and ignore the distractions which I’m sure was helped by me incorporating some of the methods from Control Unleashed.

I really hope we can get both Greg and Laura back again next year. Last night a group of us took them down the beach for fish and chips to wrap up the weekend. I consider them both friends now after organising the last couple of seminars with them and I know they really enjoy themselves when they come here. It would just be so great to work Sonic under either Greg or Laura in twelve months time when he is old enough to be doing agility sequences. However we may be competing with Hawaii so I’m not sure if Perth will win the race to host them next year!!

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