Just got back from our four hour workshop with Jen Pinder. Wow, was that fun!
First about the weather. This was outside at the home of Trainer J, using one of her rings. We had been concerned about the weather for days because it had been in the 90's and very humid. Well, we got lucky. It was about 80 degrees, humid at first, then it started drizzling and cooled off. Ah rain, I love to run in the rain!
Jen had us each run about 4-15 obstacles runs within the four hours. After each dog/handler ran she would critique that run individually and personally, and then discuss some the highlights with the group - which I liked a lot. Each one of us has varied styles, speeds and sizes, so we all had different things to learn. We learned a lot from our runs and from the others runs, as well.
Here are some of the highlights --
1. Pulling through a discrimination, instead of Mum front crossing me to keep the speed. That was something we really wanted to practice on and Jen's tips were great.
She talked about giving the dog lateral motion cues. Example: if you have a jump that leads right into the left side of the tunnel, but you want the dog to go in the left side - just as the dog has committed to the jump, you run laterally toward the right side of the tunnel, as in shaping a V.
We did this a couple of times in our four runs and it worked great - nice thing is that Mum and I have done this before without really realizing that's what we were doing. Now we can be more consistent with our discriminations utilizing this method!
2. Having Mum back up when she really wanted to pull me in (to keep me focused and away from another obstacle or to wrap around a jump) and then go on. This worked great! Loved it and kept me totally focused on where I was going. The key to this, Jen said, is to back up toward where you want the dog to go.
3. Lead out two jumps at the start with Mum facing me from the middle of the second jump. This would have worked great for us if I wasn't sitting near people, or if it was one of the first runs of the day when I am lots faster.
I've had a few problems coming off my stays, on the starts and on the table. So Mum and I are going to work on that with OK's (release) and treats. The great things about this method of leading out is that it told me exactly where I was supposed to go, instead of having to really read Mum and make decisions which can slow me down.
4. Sometimes during runs I am real fast and sometimes I am a little slower. Jen recommended Mum cue in on my speed capabilities before each run and walk the course accordingly. What Mum has been doing is walking a course for fast me and for when I'm a little slower and making the decision on how she will be handling me when she sees my speed at the start.
Well that's made for a few times where Mum had hesitated and slowed me down. So she's gonna work on that. I'm still pretty young, and as I get older and more confident my speeds are becoming more consistent. So that will help us both if that continues.
5. Jen also talked about driving to the next obstacle. That's something that Mum and I do - sometimes, but not always. So we can work on that too.
6. We also picked up a tip that will be great for Gracie's focus. When Mum uses a tug and treat with Gracie, instead of just opening up tug for the treat and giving it to Gracie, she's going to show Gracie the treats in the tug, back up some and give her a treat, back up and give her a treat. This will really get the focus on the fact that the treat is coming from Mum and makes Gracie focus before she gets the treat.
Overall it was a great seminar. We had a blast and learned a lot. We'll put some of these new tips to work this weekend at the trial. Can't wait!