Monday, December 29, 2014

A Treatise on Fenzing ...

It's true.
I fenze now. That is to say,  I teach online classes through Fenzi Dog Sport Academy.

I fenze in the morning, at noon and at night. It's pretty consuming this fenzing stuff. If I'm not responding to student's homework assignments. thoughts or questions I am reading, researching, hunting for notes I've made from conferences and workshops years ago or I'm writing lectures, proofreading lectures, and differentiating lectures.

If I'm not doing any of that actively some fenzing is happening in the inner recesses of my brain. My learning makes me sure I know that even when I am not aware. In my non-dog, non-animal life (you probably didn't even know I had one of those did you?) I have done years, decades actually,  of work with teachers and students around a wide range of things including anxiety reduction, goal setting, planning,  changing negative patterns, brain research as it applies to those topics and improving teaching skills. Guess what? All of that applies to the horse and dog world if horses and dogs are in work or being shown or trained.

There are times our brain is our worst partner. And often that response from our brain is a learned response so simply wishing we didn't think that way is going to change exactly nothing. We have to unlearn and relearn healthier approaches. And guess what? It looks like not only am I successful in teaching that kind of thing in a classroom setting. My online students are also seeing success already. Just 5 weeks into the first ever class of it's kind at Fenzi Dog Sport Academy they are self reporting happy runs, relaxed drives to events, and reaching stepping stones in planning and goals.

I am as proud of them as I am of my physical, sitting in a desk, playing in a hall, working in an arena, in front of me students. Fenzing is intense work on both sides of the screen. Students have to make a commitment to be proactive and ask the questions, try the homework so they can ask the questions, not be shy about sharing the blips as well as the successes. They have to be strong self advocates to make the most of the class it seems. And instructors? Well they have to be passionate about their subject. Care about their students enough to be gentle if an assignment is off track (so so hard online sometimes - I am by nature very direct - luckily for me and my students usually kind and direct) Able to redirect and re-engage when things go amuk. A little bit of mind reading also helps.

One challenge I have is my natural brevity. By nature and experience I believe in letting people work things out themselves. So my comments often add a bit, make a suggestion but aren't not nearly the length the student's reflections are. I hope they don't feel ripped off- I am happy to answer with more detail - but I don't want to bore anybody either. Always this balance that is life. The other challenge for me is the bronze level students. They audit the course and don't participate but I want to know! Are they having the same success as the golds? Do they have questions they wish they could ask? Am I meeting their needs? Sigh, every once in awhile a little bit of feedback gets to me and I am grateful for it (and thrilled by how positive it is) but I wish there were more silvers and more general questions. Our class discussion forum is fun  - and I'm grateful to those who participate there as well as in their own thread. Fenzi school is a time suck no matter which side of the screen you are on it seems. When I'm a gold student I can rarely keep up with my own work let alone other threads. As an instructor I keep up with my students (barely sometimes) but there is so much more I want to do. Sigh. Reality check.

I love fenzing though. It's like having 14 in depth private lessons on the go at any time. Fourteen! No wonder I fenze morning, noon and night! On both sides of the screen I love being able to fenze when it suits me. Online learning is not for everyone. And I truly don't believe it replaces face to face interactions but the right course at the right time is SO MUCH GOOD.

I was very very honoured to be asked to teach for Denise Fenzi. The moment I first read her blog and thought OH MY someone, in a different sport mind you, but SOMEONE thinks like me ... it was eye opening, affirming and gave me strength and courage to stick to my guns, (Which, given Sally, is likely either a very good, or bad, thing) It was this specific blog that made me go AHHHH . I too had read Control Unleashed and thought - ahhh so good, thanks for clarifying my thinking (Shaping Success had the same effect in many ways - from a different direction). When Denise asked me my background in the "head stuff" and how I connected it all  in person for my students I realized fenzing it would be very possible. We talked about doing a silver only version and it's a possibility for some courses  going forward but for this introductory course doing it in sync with the other classes has worked beautifully. I am very grateful to my golds for giving their all to making it work for them! And to Denise of course for making it possible to get my message out there!!

heart full of

as always!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Why lie ?

Huge question - way beyond the scope of this little blog. Here is a little dog to look at while I think about what I mean,

Let me try again

Why do we lie to ourselves about our dogs and our training?

I hear the lies pretty frequently

My dog isn't fat (or thin)
My dog is fit
My dog is happy
My dog isn't stressed
My dog is friendly - that's why they look out of control
My dog isn't in pain
My dog doesn't mind the kids lying on her

whatever - the impact on me is always the same


Is it our human spirit that makes us believe the best about the things we love?
Do we hate to admit to weakness so we just don't?

The one currently making me reflect on this is concept is the notion that a dog bolting around a ring out of control is happy, having fun and wants to be doing those behaviours. Seriously. I don't get it.

Not at all. Sally was wild as a young dog at trials and what information I took from that was she didn't have enough information to be trialing. I tested it occasionally and even qed here and there - but our tests were few and far between and I never left the ring after a 50 fault (or more) run thinking "well at least she had fun". Adding an obstacle or two or hitting the wrong end of a tunnel is NOT what I am referring to. What I mean are those runs where the dog opts out. Only occasionally, and by mistake it seems, do elements of the requisite course happen.

If your dog is stressed, unhappy running a full course, leaving you often on course, (or the flip side- walking a course at snail speed) please be honest with yourself. Lie all you want to anybody else but in your heart accept that your dog is expressing stress in a keyed up over threshold way that works for them.  Develop a plan to work on it. Test your plan but stop with the glittery excuses and understand that this too,with the right help and approach, will pass.

Honesty really is the best policy.

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Weather Outside is Frightful ...Let Us Learn, Let Us Learn, Let us Learn

I am a teacher.

I am a teacher because I love learning.

I sure didn't love school as a student. (Let me be honest - there are things about the institution of school I am not to fond of as an educator either.)

DABAD topic of the day:  Continuing Education
tons of blogs way better than this on this topic at the link here

and onwards we will go

My biggest single thought on this? DO IT! Never stop learning.
Know your dog area well? Super cool - great for you -  go find something else to learn.

How should you learn it?

Take in person classes - find somebody positive, somebody fun, somebody you want to learn from.

Take online classes - my go to academy is Fenzi Academy -  the next session of classes actually starts today - GO SIGN UP

Join an online community - FB has some neat training groups, Susan Garrett is opening her Handling 360 course this week, there are cool yahoo groups so many - find your niche - meet some like minded folks interested in what you want to learn

READ - lots ... ebook, print book, articles ... whatever turns your crank

My mind is on the mind game stuff at the moment so here are a few suggestions:

 Not Just About the Ribbons
Trials Without Tribulations (at $15 it's a GREAT ebook buy at the moment)
something by Lanny Bassham

talk about your learning ...share your wisdom.. find something new to do

Brody and I just played through the list of Novice Tricks ... at the age of 13.5 Brody knew way more tricks than needed to send off for a title! Little superstar ... now that's motivated me to actually train some new tricks to Sally and try Dora with a few too

Short - sweet, and to the point huh? Busy busy days around here ;)  more soon!