Thursday, March 22, 2012

what's in your shopping cart?

SG has an interesting blog post today about NRM (no reward markers) and the concept of "cleaning up" baggage with dogs who have somehow learned things we hadn't intended them to learn. I had never thought of it that way before as I seem to be continually playing with skills I want sharpened but I don't get that much time to train or trial so maybe I just don't recognize how much baggage we carry!

I have long felt that attending many seminars and workshops with a wide range of trainers would just confuse me. Over the years I have had many opportunities to attend classes/seminars with lots of people  - including the Say Yes instructors  and somehow I have never made them a priority partly because I know my own learning style and that I am much better to focus on building a strong set of skills that works for me rather then fretting over something my training and handling are not at a level to handle yet. (The dogs can handle anything I can teach them; I have no fears there!)

When I started agility our instructor was pretty awesome at letting us figure things out. I was so fortunate to have Brody as my partner on this part of my journey. I remember clearly racing on the outside of him to push him around a corner (in a place any knowing person would have done a cross).We did it twice and the instructor said " hey, why don't you try getting to other aside before him?". She didn't stop and show us a front cross, she didn't nag if we didn't get there. Many people in the class probably were frustrated by that and needed to be shown every step of the dance but for me, with Brody, it was perfect! Brody could make no mistakes as it was so CLEAR to me that it was the way I was handling him that was creating the lines we got (some CRAZY lines!). I didn't feel like I was making mistakes either which let me truly enjoy agility. (Now I hate making mistakes and find workshops and seminars far more stressful than trials!) . As a forever strategy this probably wouldn't have worked but as a start it wonderful.

Next I was lucky enough to find a trainer with awesome timing and a great eye.  I still value her feedback very much when I can get it!The first time she said "Just do a front cross" I stared at her. She showed me the dance steps involved and I still didn't realize I was already pretty comfortable with the move. Then I did it and laughed out loud as I realized this was one way I was moving around the courses already!

(The big downside to an instructor who was so let it be for Brody and I was that no one explained to me the importance of two sided weaves. Brody has become frighteningly reliant on being delivered to the first pole with me on his right side. Even with a very thoughtful approach to rebuilding weaves I have failed!)

I am getting to the point where attending seminars with a variety of people might be helpful - and now it would be fun too but I don't feel that any great holes would instantly be filled. In fact I've been chatting to friends about auditing obedience workshops,maybe in part because the take-aways from that type of session wouldn't be as hard for my brain to process as I really don't do formal obedience.

Here are some of the toys that are ready for participants for the Webb workshops. Sally and Sampson are quite sure they are for them. Poor long suffering dogs!


Sara said...

I've tried a bunch of different seminars, but haven't gotten much out of them. I think,now that I have Chewy, they might have been more applicable.

I really enjoy my laid back, no pressure classes though.

Helen said...

I've not been to that many seminars. I only add those new ideas that fit with how we train which is pretty hap hazard especially these days. I'm not into any one system. I can't figure that out, if I'm consistent and my dog does what I want, why should I change? I do like to have classes now that challenge me; Beckett knows his job pretty well, it's me that's still learning.