Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Lessons That We Learn

So here I am, home again after another interstate seminar. There is nothing quite like travelling away from home to do dog stuff. You get to leave everything else about your life at home (in my case for my partner to deal with...) while I go off and spend three days totally indulging in my favourite past time. Does it get much better than that?

No major dramas occured. Sonic and I made it to the airport in plenty of time. He seemed relatively relaxed when I left him at frieght. Perth Airport is undergoing long overdue upgrades so was a bit crazy checking in but other than that no problem. The weather forecast was for 34 degrees in Melbourne as opposed to the 45 degrees we had last year leaving me slightly less stressed. I do tend to get a little stressed/emotional anyway just because I worry about my dog being OK.

The plane ride was somewhat bumpy but we landed safely and after what felt like a long wait for my luggage it was off to collect the rental car. As per normal I'd booked the cheapest car available on the internet which was an itty bitty manual Hyundi Getz. I find these are a good option as they have the hatch back so with the seats folded down you can fit the dogs flight crate in no problems and did I mention - they are really cheap! I was secretly hoping for an ugrade to a Corolla or Ford Focus (like I got last year) though as they are a little nicer to drive. When I got to the rental company it was utter chaos. People everywhere, customers arguing with the staff. I just wanted to get the car and get the hell out of there so I could collect Sonic. When I finally got to the counter and the lady finished all my paperwork she tells me that all they have left available was a Ford XR6. For those that aren't into cars its a sported up version of the Falcon. In other words big, roomy, automatic and goes really fast. All I could think of was "I can't wait to tell Simone!". For Simone's benefit and so I can tease her, here is a photo. Did I mention that it was black and shiney with alloys and a spoiler. BTW lovely to drive, lots of buttons to press, but not as gutsy as my Commodore SV6... Having been provided with this lovely car at the same price as for the Getz I spent the weekend smiling.

No scary GPS dramas this year. I'd decided that saving money by avoiding using the tollways was a waste of time and effort so the I set the GPS up to send me on the most straight forward route. It did once send me around the block on the edge of the CBD but it looked like the way it was trying to send me had been cut off due to road works. I couldn't really swear at the GPS for that. All I had to do was follow the signs back onto the main motorway and all was well. Staying in Somers again was a delight with the usual walks down the beach for a swim. No koalas this year though. My uncle was telling me that they haven't seen nearly as many this year as they normally do.

Then we had the whole reason for the trip, the seminar. Lynda was fantastic, so enthusiastic and passionate about dog training and passing all that she could onto us. I only audited at the Susan Garrett seminar in 2005 so this time around with a working spot I was able to experience first hand how much of a clutz you turn into when you have someone you would love to impress standing there watching you attempt to train your dog. I knew I would learn heaps, and I did. Greg Derrett has always said to us that in Australia we need to get someone out to do some training seminars as he was seeing pieces missing from our dogs performances. Now I can totally understand why he has been telling us that.

Everything that they do at Say Yes dog training in Canada is for a reason. They leave nothing to chance. All the foundation skills that they introduce to their dogs have a purpose and is a building block for something else. Everything they do is planned. They NEVER get their dogs out and stand around, it's all about deciding what you are going to do BEFORE you get your dogs out, then bring them out motivated and ready to go, train and then back to their crate. Their dogs are NEVER trained unless they are motivated first. If your dog is distracted or not motivated then you get that BEFORE you start. We also worked a lot on the transitions between food and toy being smooth and seamless. No fumbling in pockets. Lynda talked a lot about dog training being about problem solving. You train your dog for short periods then you assess. If it's good you move on, if it's not good you work on your weaknesses. You certainly NEVER continue or move on when all you had was crap. The really stupid thing is that none of the above is hard to do. I just need to change my old habits. When I get to training I need to set up what I want to do first and not get my dog out until that's done. It's not really that hard but I think with most of us it's just easier to do what you've always done.

My other exciting news is that while I was away my future agility training area was cleared ready to start it's transformation from bushy scrub with dead banksia's everywhere to eventually lots of grass and some new eucalypts that we are going to plant. I took some photo's this morning so I can record it's humble beginnings. It's not huge but definately big enough for contacts and jump sequences.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the road again

After a tumultuous month Sonic and I finally got back into the agility ring. Great news, we managed a clear in Masters Agility. It was a more open course than we usually see but still had some interesting traps with the lines that the obstacles put the dogs on being not the line they had to do. I even managed to do at least one front cross at the right time...

It wasn't the perfect run but was definitely solid. I won't however talk about the Open Agility run we did. TOTAL disaster. I couldn't even bring myself to watch the whole thing back.

Tonight I'm packing for mine and Sonic's trip to Melbourne and the Lynda Orton-Hill seminar. I can't wait!