09 February 2009

Handling seminar with Bø og Sauherad Hundeklubb

Right now I'm very tired, (had to get out of bed early to be with the puppy since Sigurd had early classes) but I thought I would write down some words about the weekend before I fall asleep on the couch.

This weekend has been in the name of agility, but for once I didn't pay to do a seminar, I got payed. Nice transition :-) I try to teach a little to keep up with the costs of the seminars I go to myself, but I had never done a whole weekend seminar alone before, so I was a bit nervous. No reason to be nervous! It was nice. All the feedback I got was positive, even the stuff that my contact person (key person in the club I was teaching for) told me second hand was nice. The only thing (which I already knew) is that I sometimes tend to talk kind of fast. I'm working on that! :-)

The handlers were quite new to agility, and their dogs were very unexperienced. Some of them had done a beginners weekend-class, some had been taught by the others, but all the dogs were at fairly the same level. The dogs had been lured to jump (no shaping), had very little independent understanding or value of the obstacles, so we worked a bit on that. We went through the basic one jump exercises so that they can keep working on independence and value for the obstacles. The dogs also got to do some easy sequencing, but the double boxes and other more advanced stuff was done mostly by handling each other (or handling me). I had a lot of fun handling them through manouvers I hadn't taught them already! Since they (acting as the dog) understood the manouver anyway, they got to see how logical the system is! Basicly I left them with an understanding of the system, knowing what to work on, and what to do after progress (moving on to the things we did handling each other). Since it was very, very cold this weekend (-15 celsius) the human handling was great for keeping us warm too :-) Another thing we did was analyzing a world championships course and then watch a video of Susan Garrett handling it.

Orkan was my demo dog this weekend. I am very pleased with him! I wasn't sure how he would respond to staying in an open crate when I was working with other dogs, but he was an angel! I even left the room for five minutes to go to the bathroom, and when I came back he was asleep, still with his door open. Bestest puppiest evvvvvver! On saturday he was a bit sleepy and out of focus, so some of the things I intended to demonstrate didn't work as well as I would have wanted, for example the circlework. He has been a bit wierd lately, not as energetic as he usually is, so I'm taking him to Laxmi just to check that there's no painful explanation to it. She is the only one I trust to find it if there is something. If she says he's ok, I trust he is. He also had issues with other dogs coming to his crate (trying to make them go away), that is a completely new thing from him, I've never seen him mad at other dogs that way before... On sunday he worked better, but was still tired, so I mostly demoed shaping tricks, 2by2 weave training (a little bit about the method) and some one jump. I had planned to do more sequencing with him, but since he's not really himself right now I let him sleep... He also turned out to be too experienced with shaping to show them how I would shape a dog to get on the dogwalk without luring (one of them had a dog that was afraid of the dogwalk and I suggested to build some value through shaping since their dogwalk couldn't be lowered). He figured it out on the first try, not too much shaping when they give you the final behaviour on the first try? Haha!

All in all I'm happy with the outcome of the weekend! I'd love to see them again in some months and watch their progress, because they seem to be ready to put some work into the foundations (one jump, circlework, reward control/it's your choice, etc) and I think their progress will be huge as long as they stick to the good attitude and keep helping each other. By the way, it was very nice to see how prepared they are to help each other!