Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Journeys and Demons

This picture is from the first Larry Painter clinic I went to 6 years ago...Went to my second one this weekend. Long time in between. Long journey.

I have a love hate relationship with blogging and writing. It's not really natural for me, but very useful to sort out thoughts, feelings, training issues...whatever.

Rumi came along at a transition time in my life. That time where your parents go from always being there for you to needing you to be there for them. And as my father struggled with health issues and I struggled with finding a new balance in my life Rumi was always there to give anything a try, but sometimes I asked him to do things in ways I wouldn't have at other times in my life.  This showed up mostly in herding. Obedience training is fun, cathartic, therapeutic and second nature to me. Love problem solving the training issues and have no doubt that I can over come any mistakes I make. Especially with an eager partner like Rumi. And if I had to take a month or two break I could always do a quick front and finish on the run.

Herding is newer to me. A lot of learning to it. And it's never the same twice. No such thing as running out and doing a quick herding session before school. So it was hard to keep it up and hard to make good decisions all the time. On top of that Rumi was my first dog from herding lines so I put pressure on myself to do herding better with him without giving him as much benefit of making mistakes because he was supposed to have more instinct. I headed to more clinics with a wider variety of clinicians because I was sure my herding bred dog could take the training of any trainer. And I was not in a good place to make smart decisions with everything else going on so some of the clinics did not go so well....and I didn't really see how bad they were until later. So I took a break from herding...it was broken and I didn't have the time or energy to fix it.

But now I've found some help to start fixing the things that were wrong and have the energy to do things the right way and make good choices. Which brings me to the fun I had this weekend. Hanging out with good friends who make me laugh. Watching dogs work. And getting to work Rumi once.

And it wasn't just that he did well...which he did. Hit a head. Hit a heel. What more could you ask? But also because I got out in a clinic situation again. Made good decisions. Was fair to my dog. Had fun. Learned a little something along the way. Banished some lingering demons.

I have some big obedience goals this year, but it is nice to be back in a place where I can play with herding again and enjoy it :) I know Rumi forgives my mistakes...just sometimes harder to forgive myself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rumi and Read Share :)

Rumi and Read don't share many things...Read would like to, Rumi thinks she's an annoying little shit. But they are sharing this blog :)

Rumi first. First of all he finished his started duck title! But more importantly, my training ideas have worked. I have kept data consistently and changed things so that I'm tracking correct on signals and separated the heeling and the signals. At the rent a ring Friday  he nailed the majority of the signals (I did them multiple times--and I took data on a scrap of paper that I since have lost. Does that count?) and he NEVER froze, anticipated a few times, and did them most of the time. Having a person near him definitely made it harder. I was doing the 4, 7, 5, 11 set. At home I've been doing the 17, 5, 7, 10 set. He has been averaging 13-14 right (see facebook for the strange distractions that have been happening). Today was hot and humid and I almost didn't train. But boy am I glad I did. I decided to see how we were doing stamina wise since he was so ticked that he didn't get to train longer yesterday. So we did the heeling sets of 9, 19, 28, 56 interspersed with his signals and he nailed all of them. He did 15 out of 16 signals with the cat eating his treats in his eye sight. He didn't give up even though his tongue was to his knees by the end. It was great to see how much improvement we had made not only in signals but also in stamina. I think I now need to make a plan of how to mix all exercises into our training through out the week (I've been focusing on signals since we had such a huge problem with them). But I am so happy with his improved attitude and confidence. He rocks!

Read is getting older and we need to really focus on recalls so they don't become to optional as she heads into that fun teenage stage :) Her Bop is looking great, her pivots are up to 180 degrees...haven't gotten that last inch to get past me but almost. Sits are becoming much more tucked, fronts are cute when she remembers not to jump on me, retrieve of the metal article is coming along well (why I decided to teach a formal retrieve with metal first I have no clue...so don't ask...but it's working for us so why change LOL). Tracking is a blast...she has a great nose. She can work with me forever, but can handle one exercise for only about 3-4 min. before she's ready to move on...which for right now is fine :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rumi takes his Blog back (for a day anyways)

Rumi has decided to take his blog back for the day :) He has excelled in ODX and is on to Utility. Most of the handful of times we have shown he has passed every exercises except for signals. Given that we show ASCA there has definitely been the times where the go-out situation looks a little...ummm...unique...but usually he figures it out and if he blows it, the second go-out is usually better than the first and by the second show he has always managed to nail them both. But oh those signals. I have managed to really confuse him on them.

So I decided, since  I really want the UD sooner rather than later, I'd take data. I know the importance of data, I do it all the time in my other job. Obedience is my hobby, my stress relief, my fun...so I tend not to be as good at taking data and being okay with that. But when there is a problem, and I want to fix it, data is good. So I decided I'd do 4 sets of 4 signals with variable distances based on Laura Romanik's amazing heeling sets (can't wait to train my puppy using them) and keep the data. I also figured I'd do a heeling set before hand, since signals are preceded by heeling.

The first day showed that I had definitely taught Rumi to wait for a second signal to drop. 17 attempts before he did a correct one. After that for the next 3 days errors went down to only 4 or 5 out of all 4 sets (16 repetitions). Then we had to take a day off to let his sore shoulder feel better from a nice head butt from a ewe (he showed her it would not be wise to try that again!) and then we ended up with an icky set of 16 errors and a ton of stress yawning and avoidance behaviors. YUCK! Obviously there was something else playing into this.

So I pondered, mulled, and of course ruminated. It has been hot and humid around here. I had had Rumi doing heeling sets of a total of over 100 steps before 4 sets of signals. That really was a lot when signals were already stressy. And then we did that 4 times. And then I was re-reading one of Denise Fenzi's blogs and watching one of her video's of her training her dogs with half my mind, cooking with the other half and suddenly it hit me (luckily without cutting my finger). Rumi likes food, but unlike my previous dogs, he LOVES to tug and play. And I had been focusing so hard on counting steps and keeping track of number of errors to record that I had just kind of handed him food. And for him that was not reinforcing enough. I needed to do what was reinforcing for him.

Today I went out and just did signal sets and while I still used some food reinforcers I made sure I played and smiled and laughed until he was also happy with his performance. And we had 3 errors and 2 were anticipation errors, which at this point in his training I don't really count as errors. And he was happy and sparkly and having fun. And boy were we both hot and sweaty by the time we were done with all the playing and tugging. There was no way I could have done this much play and heeling sets.

As I was typing this I also think I need to change the data I'm keeping. Although errors are easy to count, I need to track our successes. I don't need to keep looking at our errors. So time to change our data keeping a little bit and continue on with my new insights and see where we get :) Maybe I need to track my laughing while I train too...seems to be the more I laugh the better trainer I am.