Saturday, November 25, 2017

Reasons to Record Keep

Letterman might be off air but his top ten lists provide a framework for me to highlight information I want to share with you and keep in my own brain.  Today I was reflecting on the importance of record keeping  and this top ten list took shape (This blog began over 10 years ago as a way for me to record keep along with the course maps I annotate to this day!)

Record keeping provides

10.  Accomplishment: Record keeping gives you a sense of further accomplishment - there is a pride in the act of record keeping that is worth internalizing! Yay you!



9.  Proactivity (yes I made the word up!) : Record keeping  identifies gaps and holes that you can fill in  - if you miss 4 contacts 5 sessions in a row you can see that and remedy it rather than worrying about contacts with no real sense of why you worry.

8. Connection:  Good records let you match beliefs to facts - is your front really straighter than two months ago? Check! This connection can also be a reminder that the path in dog training is not always strictly linear - it can be circuitous and wobbly.  Good records are a little like training wheels on a bike  - they can keep you moving forward and reaching outwards even when you get off kilter!



7. Efficiency: When you record keep it reduces your thinking and wondering time - should you work on weaves again? How long ago did you last train them? How did it go?  Planning is easier in the face of good record keeping.



6. Autonomy: You get to pick how, when and what you record keep. No judgement, no peanut gallery.  There are lots of different ways - and all work just fine!

5. Creative outlet who doesn't appreciate pretty systems, whiteboards and new pens?  Again though - make it work for you - no need for fancy if a + on training days is as much as you can manage right now -  the full working process that is best for you can be built gradually!


4.  Motivation: Especially if persistence is your downfall keeping records can help There are three elements of motivation that have particular application to dog training -  records can help with each one.  (Sam needs no record of his stick management program but it amuses me so I keep them occasionally!)

3.  Goal Setting help: Determining the right process or outcome goals can be tricky -  good records for training and showing will help you decide when a goal is met, or needs adjustment 




2. Time Management: for both extremes - the 3 minute trainers and hour and half trainers can see how time gets used which improves planning


1. Memories: You can treasure  your trials, triumphs and successes as long as you want  Looking back on Brody's trial note or Wyn's training records can always put a smile on my face or fill my heart a little.


So many great reasons to figure out a record keeping system that works for you. But right there is a KEY piece many people forget- your system has to work for you - if it's video, paper, audio notes, a system of symbols - whatever - it's great as long as it works for you!

If you aren't sure about your record keeping and motivation skills my No More Excuses course runs this term at FDSA   -   click HERE to register (a bronze spot is only $65 which works out to a heck of deal  when you know there are over 20 lectures already loaded!!)



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Teacher, Coach, Mentor Haiku ...

Teacher

Your knowledge fills me
Like water in a clear pond
Giving life to me





Coach

Push me to EXCEL
No more flutters in the wind
Force my brain to work





My Mentor

I look up to you
Eyes wide open, finally
Thank you from my heart.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Teaching or coaching - how do you lay your bricks?

So - how do foundations get laid?  one brick at a time, one stone, one board. One little piece at a time is added until a whole is built.



A whole what? A whole anything- a house, a garage, a book, or blog post, a trained behaviour chain, an in ring performance  if you can name it - we can build it!. If you build it piece by piece with attention to the foundation your structure will last a long long time. and that's the goal really isn't it?


It might be information (positive training is effective because - SCIENCE or a  dog walk is  three long planks connected to each other) it might be a skill (a fold back down or a sticking the end of the teeter) or it might be mechanical (in pocket hand  let the dog come to the palm of your hand  or this is front cross foot work).


People lay their foundation of information, skill and mechanics in different ways. Some people teach themselves, others only work under tutelage. For many a mix of self directed learning (including the evaluation piece!) facilitation (getting help in the learning process and ideas about what to learn), coaching (constructive feedback from experienced eyes) and teaching (often a laid out framework of topics, feedback and information)  is the way to build foundation - which leads to success (however you define that piece!)

As a dog trainer you might realize you slide between roles as you play with train your dogs.  In a shaping session you might facilitate the correct choices  while in loose leash walking you might teach the skill. In  retrieves you might coach the dog "that's it" "get it" or what have you. As a student of anything you will likely realize that different people "teach" differently. One reason for this is that many  are actually moving between the various roles as they bring you along. Other instructors tend to work from one domain more. And that's OK too, particularly if you can identify what is happening and test filling gaps you may feel you have in different ways.

As a trainer and an educator I move fairly fluidly between the approaches. I tend to coach if I can because for me personally the conclusions I come to myself are the ones I will remember longest but there are always elements and lessons that need more formal teaching.  Some people prefer more instruction and I am happy to do that when I realize it as well.



Getting a good foundation matters. Learning what you need to create that and maintain it matters. If you use one person who moves fluidly between the formats for you; or use four people and lots of videoing as well, it doesn't matter as long as  it works for you! Don't overwhelm yourself running from flavour of the month to flavour of the month - make  plan  and be methodical but if you find yourself at odds consider coaching and learning as approaches in light of your needs and see what will contribute the most to building or maintaining your foundation,



(I need to thank both Melissa Breau for the nudge and Amy Cook for the topic! This idea may pop up in other blogs you read - let me know if you see it anywhere!) 



Monday, November 13, 2017

Sometimes No needs to turn into Yes ...


I say No about 5 times a day on average

"No, I can't take that dog", "No there is no room for a kitten", "no I am sorry I am not going that way next weekend". I don't always frame it in a no ... "I'm sorry I don't know anybody willing to take your problem animal and make it theirs right now"  " I am sorry I don't know anybody with room for that animal right now".   Being me I offer what help I can - "sure post it on my FB page", "Have you looked up  (insert agency that is funded and staffed to help)", " would a list of trainers help you?" (and then the investment of time to find local good people  when the response is "yes")

I also (kind of obviously if you've followed this blog  or my FB stuff at all)  said yes a few times ...  looking around right now at least 8 times  (and it's honestly quite a lot higher than that)
Often animals come here to join our forever family and that's super - but sometimes the animal comes to find safety - and we are a  weigh station rather than a stopping point.

I'm trying very hard to find a way to say yes to a horse in need.  Not forever yes as Team Valiant is full and we are personally tapped out (a summer of specialist trips for Sally, losing Brody and Frannie, doing 4 equine dentistries (while Team Val had 3 done)  - Sam has a booked surgery in two weeks, Thea has had some blips -  the vet bills are running higher than mortgage payments have ever been!) But trying to figure out how to get him safe, assess him and see what we can do for him. He's skinny and losing weight, his farm is closing this week and he is at risk of being sent to auction - high risk actually and he lives very close to the Quebec slaughter plants so kill buyers will certainly be hanging out at the auction. Sigh



So my heart says YES and my wallet says  wish I could help but NO.
There are two component costs to horses - free horses can be very expensive - always look a free horse over very carefully - mouth and all!  Wanna know more? Read on ... if not, skip to the bottom

Let's call the first stage set up costs:

Shipping  - this dude is over 400 km away one way so is $800-$900 to get here
Vet costs - vary - but $200 for blood work deworming and vaccines is not unreasonable and may spiral up quickly if sa he needs his teeth done - not uncommon in thin horses
Stuff - grooming, blankets etc - very luckily for this fella we have stuff .. and people are generous about passing along brushes, and things that they no longer need.

so - $1100 - $1500 gets him safe

Ongoing costs actually are scarier long term   feed (hay and hard feed)  farrier, vetting   etc -  $250 - $400 per month without any labour type of cost in there ... sigh

Where we are at ... we have stuff he can use, we have pledges of  $210 in monthly sponsorship for 6-10 months set up for him  and we have $200 towards his set up  costs - generous, thoughtful wonderful people.

What's the gap?  $60 more a month would make me comfortable and $800 upfront would make it possible. It doesn't sound like much if you think of community but the reality is, right now, today, it's the difference between no and yes.

But to know me is to know I don't like asking for things ...   if you can give anything to help this chap with no name (how sad is that!) I'd love to welcome you to Love The One You Are's Gratitude Project - many of you have likely already given - we raised over a thousand dollars for Team Valiant's big fall fundraiser with it already.  If you want to make a donation to help this guy paypal agility.addict @ aol.com without spaces ...  and tell me to add that email to the project



If you don't know what to give I averaged the donations awhile ago and it came to $60   so the sign up direct link became that amount ... you can find it here  the link to course for $60 



 Thanks for thinking about it, joining the project - sharing the blog or the post over on Love the One You Are .

Friday, October 13, 2017

Webinar wonder

I don't know if you have been inundated of late with webinar invitations but I have - if I wanted to learn about expensive programs to organize retreats, use funnels, use Pinterest, get in touch with my spiritual self, self publish a book or about a million other things there's a webinar for that! I've signed up for a couple that caught my interest - course building ones mostly (because - um educator here - you know) and have picked up a tip or two in the process. Many of them are VERY formulaic and  a couple of presenters pretty obviously have a lot less experience than me at  applying pedagogical principles. Le. Sigh.

Some have been pretty good. If I walk away with two or three applicable things I am thrilled, if I get a solid reminder of things I already practice and feel validated that's great. Always in these webinars I end up feeling a little badly because the whole point of the webinar is to SELL some lovely sounding, very pretty program for a lot more money than I have for discretionary things right now(anybody want to trade vet bills?). So while I might covet the program and appreciate the pitch I have to be satisfied with the pearls.

Then what do you know? I get invited to present a webinar for FDSA. Not to sell anything but to teach stuff - right up my alley eh?



How cool.   You can sign up right here! But you have to promise to both say hi if you attend and to let me know either what you liked best or how make it better after you watch it. Deal?

How terrifying. But wait, I love workshops and doing keynote addresses. Media is one of my things. As long as the internet cooperates I've got this. So I say YES. Firmly and clearly and get given a date (October 19, 2017)  and we ask the FDSA students to choose between 3 topics - all get lots of votes so I decide to start with number one on the list. R+ for humans  - so MUCH FUN!



(and so important)

I've got the slide deck ready to go. It's a pretty wide ranging webinar - think of it as a keynote address rather than an intense workshop which looks at dreams, planning, goal setting, motivation, record keeping and ends with working together  on tools to help you!  It isn't the same as any class I've taught but it's true to my take on all this head stuff. Don't expect a cure all ills magic wand waving by self help guru tirade. You are way more likely to hear my self help rant and yet come away feeling empowered with a strategy to help you move forward.

I am probably most excited to introduce my way of considering and using process, learning, performance and outcome in a way that's clear and understandable (or you can ask questions RIGHT THERE  - LIVE ... OMG what have I agreed to?) I'm not talking much at all about some of the things people probably expect me too - brain research, gratitude, personality types - they might come up - in fact I hope they do-  but it'll be because of questions not because of inclusion in the webinar slides. I've worked in question time at different stages and will be asking questions for people who show up to think about (because - um - ME) One of the things I like most about my presentation is it's relevant to everyone - at home trainers, instructors,  scent, agility, barn hunt, coursing, conformation ...  no matter what role dogs play in your life and what role you want them to play it's got something for you. It just occurred to me the framework could easily be applied to horse sports too..  It's not just for nervous people or world class competitors - whatever your jam there's a pearl or six in there just for you!


So, being me, and a life long learner and all I've been attending the FDSA webinars as I  am able. They have been great. informative, interesting, enriching and engaging.  The price point is right ($19.95 USD) and the access to them is for a full year and extended from the time of the last webinar you sign up for. You have to sign up  before the webinar no matter when you intend to watch it but you don't have to watch it live to get access.  There are some great ones coming up (dare I say including mine? ohh that little Imposter Syndrome Gnome raises his head - I'll stare him down this time) .

October 19th - 9 pm EST  I really do hope you can join me live, but even if you can't I''d love to share my info with you, Sign up, Invest in yourself just this once!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Dog Training Task Cards - the first three decks are ready!

Does motivation get you down?
Just run out of steam part way through a training session?
Not sure how to start a session? 
Stuck for new ideas?



Well well - help is at hand!

Not sure what to do with  the classes you teach?  Trying to figure out how to help students do better?

Dog training task cards to the rescue!


Three editions are ready to roll out: Play (pictured above) Foundations  and Scent/Nose work. There's a deal for buying all three too!


Put the fun and spontaneity back in training -- get some help getting off the couch and playing with your dog 


Deck Choice

Motivation has three key components and dog training task cards can help you with each step 

Direction - use task cards to get you up and taking action - you can set your goal in terms of doing "at least 2 random cards' and see where it takes you 

Intensity -- use the cards to build a warm up or cool down component to your training ... or to give you a fun mid week routine to play with 

Persistence - you've run out of steam and can't think of what to do? Grab your deck of cards and take action! Use your deck once or twice a week to keep yourself moving  forward. 

Break free of training ruts ...  put together a  custom plan that suits your needs and training level - there is flexibility built right into the cards so you can take a step back or challenge yourself with ease

The cards are in an electronic book -  4 cards per page and black and white to make printing easy - print them, out - laminate them or print them on card stock  and put them on a ring if it suits you! 

Each deck has 32 cards  most of which will lend themselves to adaptions and tweaks - so it's well over 50 activities per deck!  Three decks are ready now   More (rally, barn hunt, sports foundation and agility) are in the works already and there have been some inquiries about more advanced decks too ...  

Foundation Training 
32 activities that will tighten up your training and let you focus on performance not planning.



Scent Work 
32 activities that take the thinking out of setting hides and challenges to make nosework training easier on your own (or with a non dog helper who can set some hides for you!) 


and a Play Book! 
32 cards to help to choose a way to play or a play activity to add to your training plan. Food, personal and toy suggestions are all covered. Up your play game having fun with the deck.


You should get one. Maybe you should get all three ... did I say there's a deal on three ;)


Deck Choice

Friday, August 11, 2017

Old Dogs

This Old Dog

Heart ache entered on soft paws  
Cold nose, kisses, wagging tail,
Ever so worth it 

A, Harrison




Measuring Up 

A third of my life, 
A moment in time.
Seventeen years 
A heartbeat at my feet. 

Fame, and glory
Car rides and trials
Walks in fields


My rockstar

is gone

Nothing is left to measure. 

A, Harrison






"It's just a dog" they said 
"He lived a good life" they said/ 
"Good thing you have other dogs" they said. 
"He was really old" they said. 
"You were lucky" they said. 

They can't begin to know.

A, Harrison





and the Auden poem comes to mind as well 

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.