Friday, March 20, 2009

Lights, camera, action?

I have now experienced my first time in front of the camera filming three episodes worth of TV for Channel Nine’s “Garden Gurus”. It was something that I accidentally fell into thanks to Riot’s association with Better Pets & Gardens as the company’s mascot. Most of the filming was actually of Riot but the main presenter interviewed me as to my thoughts on dogs digging in the backyard. I actually didn’t have a lot to say in the end. When I was first asked to do it I thought it was a great opportunity to get the positive reinforcement word out to the general public. I get sick of watching all these other “dog gurus” on TV who give very little attention to advising people to actually reward their dog for doing the right thing. As it happened it was so flowery and based around selling product for Better Pets and Gardens that it wasn’t really an appropriate forum for my passionate ramblings on dog training. I did have a couple of disagreements with them regarding some of the content that they were spouting. Just cause you read something on the internet doesn’t mean it’s the most appropriate way of doing something (or works for that matter…) and I was a bit disappointed that they got their information from the internet in the first place when they had asked me to be on the show as a dog trainer. I obviously wrongly assumed that they’d ask me! My dogs didn’t learn what they know by themselves.

Riot was great for the duration of the day. As usual he worked his arse off and even surprised me with some of the things he was willing to have a go at. Twice I told them that I doubted he would do something when he was actually more than happy to oblige the masses. It bodes well for the new commercial that we are filming next Friday. He did crack the shits at me a couple of times and I received the “talk to the paw, lady” expression when he’d had enough of having a heap of ridiculous dog coats taken on and off of him. I do think he revels in the attention though and when I had to get him to run into shot to be with Trevor I had to hold him back in his haste to get in there. It’s nice to do some stuff with Riot in any case. Since I pulled him from the agility ring due to his apparent disregard for the sport he has kind of languished in the background. The tricks that I’m teaching him for the commercial means that every day we hang out and do some work together. He can frustrate the hell out of me but ultimately he just needs to get there in his own time and when he does it’s always worth waiting for.

For anyone who’s interested in watching my appearances on the “Garden Gurus” the shows will be aired on Channel Nine, Saturday 28th March (puppy episode which I don’t think I’m in – Riot’s 9 week old son got all the attention in that one), Saturday 11th April (which should feature my in depth interview (well three sentences anyway) with Trevor on digging…) and Saturday 2nd May (which is on dog fashion and has an unimpressed Riot parading a variety of mostly unattractive dog jackets). Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be giving up my day job anytime soon!

Now on to what young Sonic and I have been up to of late. The last couple of weeks I have taken it pretty easy with him. I’ve mainly been focusing on breaking all of his performances down and rewarding after a couple of well executed obstacles rather than trying to do whole sequences. I’ve been providing him with lots of high level reinforcement on contacts and even whipped out a tin of sardines as big reward after one dog walk that he did. He’d never had sardines before but the way he scoffed them down, almost choking in the process leads me to believe that he quite enjoyed the experience. He’s now doing the full height seesaw however we’ve already had quite a few fly offs. These don’t appear to bother him in the slightest. I’ve been giving him a loud seesaw then bang command with the hope that after a few fly offs he will start to understand that seesaw means that it’s going to tip. It doesn’t appear to have affected his confidence in belting up the dog walk, which was one of my concerns. I’m still convinced that the “bang game” is one of the better ways to teach the seesaw. My version is a combination of what Rob Mickalski and Susan Garrett do. I love that it turns the potentially scary drop of the seesaw into a game for them and ultimately they love the fact that the seesaw bangs down rather than worry about it. Plus you are teaching them to control their bodies as it happens instead of clinging on and hoping for the best!

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