Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project "Ignore Ring Crew", day two

Well after a couple weeks hiatus, Soph is back with a vengeance. We did two sessions today.

Morning was up at the larger training hall with a full set of equipment. We started out with some shadow handling around another team who were running full courses. Soph didn't set a foot wrong during the shadow handling.. again , that involves direction changes, side switches, stays and recalls around the equipment and at varying distances from Andrea and Sally. We then moved onto a bit of a pinwheel with three jumps, just for some handling work. No trouble at all there, she was jumping well and accurately. At one point in the morning, a young couple came in for an adoption interview with A. - Soph (and Sally too) beelined for them and got one jump in on the man but responded VERY quickly to a happy send to her kennel with a reward. Once they were settled to meet their new doggy friend, we went back to work on some full courses. (The hall was now empty except for us, so this was ideal to work on our handling. Sophie's contacts are officially phenomenal, and I was able to get some long distance from all three contact obstacles, even getting 8 feet from the teeter as she held her 2o20. Then I took a tea break as soph had a rest.

The head trainer had her first aid seminar participants in for an impromptu agility demonstration, so we did a bit more shadow handling and "who's that" (stays with the CU look at that exercise) practice with 6 strangers. She did very well here, but the premacking "go say hello" exercise here didn't go so well, there was a language issue that I wasn't aware of. However, we did get a beautiful contact at the bottom of the aframe with the 6 bystanders less than 10 feet away, and one successful "go say hi" before calling it a day at the big hall.

Next we were off to a more intensive session at When Hounds Fly , with the long suffering Emily and some two- and three-jump work. This time we had weaves, and two jumps. Started off with the weaves perpindicular to our ring crew - no trouble. Worked increasingly tough angles, finishing with the weaves aimed directly at E. She held it together amazingly well, scoring some impossibly tough weave entries and tight wrap turns to the jump while entirely ignoring the seated ring crew. Time for another tea break, followed by a session of "who's that" with both Em and Andre , who was great at acting very goofy. Then a few "go say hi's", with increasingly quick "that'll do" and call offs. Back to the equipment, where we added a third make shift jump - soph had some trouble reading it initially but figured it out - did some nice send aways over all three obstacles, ending with some beautiful high speed figure 8's with tight wraps and quick front crosses over the two jumps. Our final premack, Soph is clearly wanting to continue working with me rather than harassing the ring crew.

All in all, a VERY productive working day. Our next session will be half and full courses with one or two ring crew at varying distances .. we have houseleague coming up and we'll play that by ear, probably clearing the ring other than a judge I think.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Project "Ignore Ring Crew", day one

So here is the game plan: back to foundation skills, with very minimal distractions to begin with.

Today we began with shadow handling with one judge/ring crew (mucho, mucho gracias Emily!) in the lobby. For an added bonus, there was a puppy and two other adults nearby but not involved with us. We had ZERO trouble here, doing stays and recalls, loose heel work, direction changes, crosses and etc. Emily was both standing and sitting. At the end, did some controlled premack on leash where she was allowed to sniff and lick hands of the ring crew, but had to keep all four feet on the ground. This was hard for her initially but she got the rules by the 2nd or 3rd try.

Next we moved to one jump, with Emily sitting about four feet away parallel with jump. Again, we had no trouble. Worked both sides, drop and runs, stays with and without lead outs. Soph didn't blink, not a missed step. Premack again, to finish, and less attempting to jump.
Put her away for a half hour while we had tea.

Second round, identical process.

Shadow handling - she was a little high and a little less focussed this time, but no outright attempts to mug (just shooting glances at Em. and occasionally stepping towards her - my timing of the click was crucial in keeping her on track I believe. ) After about 5 minutes she was back in the game.

One jump - again, slightly distracted and I did lose her once but managed to grab her before she made contact. Not an ideal solution but I was then able to reset her and continue on without any further trouble. Finished with a few sets of weaves - this was less successful. No trouble weaving away from ring crew but weaving toward was too difficult - I had to body block her the first time, and block her with an outstretched hand for the 2nd and third times. Clearly that was too difficult, and I should have angled the weaves perpindicular initially instead. Duly noted for next time. Again, finished with a few premack's, and by the third "go say hi", sophie approached but immediately returned to me for her final cookie. We wrapped it up at that point. Good good dog!

Monday, January 3, 2011

And on the mental management end of things

appropriately, was flipping through a borrowed Clean Run last night and came across a great article by Lance Bassham (Olympic Medallist and mental management-expert) - entitled "Handling Disappointment"

Some highlights:

"The first step in dealing with disappointment is that things are not always what they seem.... Let's look at disappointing events and see if we can learn other valuable things from the experience."

"What should we do when we are disappointed? I have three suggestions. First determine if you are responsible for the disappointment. If so, accept responsibility for your actions. Ask what you need to change about yourself to get through this and to reduce the chance that it will happen again.Then let the worry and concern over the damage that this has caused to your journey toward your goals be replaced by a renewed effort toward rehabilitation. Protect your self-image by thing and talking about what you need to do, not about what you did wrong. "

"Second, protect your attitude...contentment tends to make a person successful before long. You can't keep a good man down because he gets up quickly and moves on toward his goal."

"Finally, see if you can find any benefit in the situation before you determine that your life is no longer worth living. Remember, people value things in direct proportion to the p;rice paid for them, so maybe you will value success much more if you fail a bit in the process. "

So... Our first AAC trial was a mixed blessing. Our first class (jumpers) was a complete train wreck from start to (a very fast) finish. I was a little scattered in our start line routine, and Soph wasn't at all connected with me from the get go - and soon as she was released and over one jump she was like a cannon zooming around mugging every ring crew and the judge over and over and over again. Brat. So finally snagged her on the third zoom past and retired from the course. Time to regroup and rethink things. I did have a lovely course planned and visualised, but Soph wasn't on the same page... onward and upward.

Next was a steeplechase course - a nice flowing course that curved into the middle of the ring - great, away from the ring crew along the sides! Good, that gave us the opportunity to start off with a solid 3 obstacle sequence (jump, jump, aframe) that we were able to successfully complete. Bit of a hairy moment as she posed on top of the aframe, gazing down at the judge and I could see her contemplating "Should I jump on her head or would it be better to mug her from the solid ground?" Thankfully she decided to bail off halfway down (missed contact) but I was able to get her back after one jump on the judge and over the next jump. Unfortunately, I was flustered and kept going forward to jump 10, instead of doing the hard turn back towards jump 5. Tried to get her back to the correct jump which was a mistake - we did manage to get back onto the 6-7-8 line of jumps but had run out of time at that point. S'okay, we managed to keep things sorta-together and worked as a team.

Time for lunch, a massage for Soph and a break for us both... soph in her crate and me as ring crew for masters snooker. Enjoyed watching our classmates having much success in the ring.

Final course was our standard run. Again, this course began in the middle of the ring, with a jump-frame-3 jump sequence in a fairly straight line, away from the crew. Soph required a lot of coaxing down the frame, and she did drift off in the middle of the following three jumps, but I got her back on course turning her onto teeter #6 (held contact, YAY!) and turn onto the table (quick down, YAY! held her down and didn't bark, double YAY!). Then 6 weaves - she missed her entry and I had a heartstopping moment moving her back - will she bolt or can I get her back in the weaves? YES I can get her through them on the 2nd try .. now we can super-charge down the side in a straight sequence - tunnel, tire, jump, turn past the gate jump back to the centre chute, curve into the tunnel and wrap back over the dog walk and a jump to finish and we FINISH THE COURSE. And it's not pretty and we're way overtime but we held it together and DID IT.

SCT is 64 seconds, our time 112.58, 83.55 faults and a first place in 16inch specials ..

Video to follow. :)