Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sometimes you just have to: Why Videoing Yourself is Hard (and what you can do about it!)

So, in one of those synchronicities of life in the last 24 hours I have been asked not once, not twice but FOUR times about the need to video oneself. Many people hate it. And I get it. On every level.

Way back before camera phones even existed I had a university assignment that involved videoing myself. I refused to do it. The prof, saint that he was, worked so hard to accommodate me. I worked so hard to stymie him. Don't film your face he offered. I said no. Think of a creative way to share your info that doesn't involve your voice he finally offered. I don't remember how we finally came to terms but I know part of the filming involved me writing on a blackboard before the camera was turned on and me holding paper with printing on it up. Sigh. I was supportive, constructive and happy to watch my peers work. I even recall thinking it was a great activity for everybody else.

Fast forward about 4 years and I was organizing a walk a thon. I got invited to speak in our local TV show,  Breakfast TV. I said maybe and lined up a partner to take on the show to do the talking part. I figured I'd do animal wrangling (cute animals would get attention in all the shots of me that way) and my buddy would talk. Um. No. They'd only let one of us on and I was the animal savvy one who would keep cats and dogs where they belonged. Thrown in the deep end I would have been quite happy had we experienced a national power failure. The event and the animals mattered enough that I did the show. Survived. Got compliments from the lovely host of the show. Adopted the animals I had shown and the walk was a success. Sigh. I did that show and others many many many times, and while I never loved it the pain was worth it by the end. I recently did two podcasts and loved doing them ... but had that old familiar sense of dread when I realized I had said "yes" not "no".

A long winded way to explain that not only do I hear the concern about video but in my own unique way I totally understand it. So, that said, how can you work through your TOTALLY legitimate concern?

Break it down my friends - break it down. "But HOW?" I hear you lament.

Think about why you are resistant.
Are you worried about your body image? Your voice? The mess in the background?  Being interrupted mid  taping? (check each of those for me - especially the second!)  Identifying why you are worried will  give you a chance to address those concerns in a way that works for you.  It will also let you decide if you might want to throw things in a box, or set the camera on an angle to minimize what people see.

Decide why you want to video at all.
Is it to improve your training? Watch for a particular behaviour?  Measure your own handling?  Record keep so you can see gaps and improvement? Take an online class and get the most salient feedback for your situation possible? Create lovely memories that you can cherish?

Perhaps revisiting your reasons - YOUR reasons  that is - not the should be your reasons - will help you decide the pain of videoing and working through your angst is worth it. It's quite possible that the reason you THINK you want to video is not a sufficient motivator for you - looking for all the reasons video is good for you in your situation may help motivate you.

Plan for your comfort and success.

(this sounds a bit like a plan for training  your dog eh?) 

Do some videoing  - use whatever  tips and thoughts below will help you take action.

Start Small ... pick something you like doing, or are curious to see, and video JUST one minute or less  of it.

Ground yourself before you begin  Do a breathing sequence, or a roots to the ground physical grounding, meditate, or stretch. Prepare your body for what's to come.

Organize your thoughts ... know what props you want and what you want to film.  10 seconds of planning can make a huge difference to your video.

Test your set up. Run film of the space you are using and see what the boundaries are - perhaps put cones or other markers in place so you can see what the camera will catch. You might want to deliberately focus on your dog - cutting off your head is fine if the resulting video suits your purposes!

Admit your concerns to the people who support you  Maybe one of them will volunteer to film for you or lend you a camera ... or simply watch the video and point out the good things instead of every little blip you may find yourself obsessing about.

and hot on the heels of above - Ask for help - if you aren't sure what to film, or how to film or anything else use your supports to find the answers. Google is how I figured out editing in iMovie.

Build from success. Sure the point for you may be to show an instructor your struggles and get feedback but start with something you like, that gives you pleasure.  Create a memory video - or celebrate a success.

Fake it til you make it ... yup - put on your acting hat and do your thing. Pretend to be a trainer you admire (I can give you a long list of names if you want!) pretend to be confident and loving it. Smile and your brain will believe you!

(yes I hate this video, Yes I share it because I hate it so. The things I do for you) 

Remember you control this - you can ALWAYS turn off the camera, change an angle, erase a video instead of showing or even viewing it. You are your own boss here.

Take your time ... there is a way to edit every movie - in iMovie, movie maker or even as you upload to YouTube ... so set yourself up to catch what you want - you can edit the pause at the beginning and the wander at the end

This is getting long ... so I am going to wrap it up but I suspect there will be questions  - feel free to ask me ... and perhaps the answers will appear in part two or three!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Why foundations in dog sports matter ....

(sorry for the gap in blogs - June was crazy busy here ... sigh  I anticipate being back to twice monthly posting!) 

"Start them right", "Make sure you do your foundation work", "Build those blocks" are the types of things you may have heard when thinking about  foundation work for dogs.

BUT WHY? Why is it important to invest time, learning, and energy (sometimes oh SO MUCH energy) in foundation work?

It would be easy to be trite and say something along the lines of foundations lay the ground work on which all other work is born. And while that is correct it is not complete. Foundations do so much more than train your dog.

Of course foundation work teaches your dog building block skills. It's about  building those basic skills you will revisit again and again and again as you layer them into whatever sport you want to play. Pick an example - any example will do but let's look at crating just for fun. By building the skill of your dog happily being able to be in a crate  you may have beginning of stay (a la Susan Garret), a way to safely and comfortably confine your dog in a car on a warm day (in the shade, under supervision, with water - yadda yadda ). You may be building skills for confinement in case of injury, or wild small children house guests  or any number of other possibilities. Happy crating is great foundation skill not just for dog sports but for life itself !

Foundation work  helps your dog's condition by laying the ground work for building correct muscles, and condition.  I  don't mean starting puppies on equipment or even doing  whole lot with them ... but basic walking, climbing on, over and through things and learning to control their bodies  allows condition to be built slowly with dogs learning about their own bodies.

 Foundation work builds relationship  through early games, play and training you get the best opportunity to experiment. See what works for your dog, for you, and decide how to combine those two sometimes disparate points of view.  Consider, if you will. the skill of your dog  playing with toys, you and food. A dog's ability to play with whatever you are able to offer in any given moment creates  a way to appreciate each other and to reward great work. The act of building these varied skills through many different games and opportunities will help establish relationship and strengthen your bond.

Taking the time to do things right from the start is frustrating. It feels pointless - what if you don't WANT to show in dog sports at the end of the day? You'll never get the time back that you invest in lovely heeling, or great independent weaves, or staying at source  - BUT. and it's a big but - it's WAY easier to take the time to teach something right than to try to reteach it. Brody's weaves are my  most often referred to example of this. Brody weaved quite well. As long as I was on his right side and right beside him as he did his thing. I never knew there was any reason he should weave alone when I started teaching him and by the time I realized it would make both our lives easier he had hundreds of weaves under his collar done just the way he liked them. Sigh.

Rushing things, skipping steps are not doing yourself or your dog any favours in the long term.
Slow down. Think. Plan. Then Do.

Put another brick in the wall. You'll be glad you did.