Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Seminar Musings

I got home Sunday night from a quick trip to Florida for 3 days of obedience lessons/seminar presenting in Lakeland. I had very little voice left, in spite of a great sound system. I had chorus rehearsal Monday morning. Having a 6 note range that kept changing didn't make for particularly great sounds. (I'm in a local women's chorus, and our concert is only a few weeks away.)

I have honestly enjoyed every seminar I've presented over the past 6 months. How lucky can I be that I'm getting to meet all these new dog friends and their nifty dogs all over the country, and getting to help them with their dogs?

On Saturday afternoon, I showed everyone how I start to shape a retrieve, and got a young (about a year old, recently neutered male) Brittany with no prior experience with the dumbbell taking it in 10 or so minutes. His owner reported Sunday morning that he was taking it every time she presented it. I think that most of the people at the seminar have never seen the db introduced this way, and have started their dogs right out with the ear pinch. The cool thing with this dog was his gnat-like attention span when we started. He was actually standing very still and thinking hard about what he needed to do as we got further along with the process. I asked his owner if he'd ever been that still in his life :-).

After working with several other dogs with hold issues, someone came out with her metal article and her Border terrier. He had learned Scent Discrimination just fine, but then started refusing the metal article a while back, and even with a fair bit of correction, still wouldn't take it. So I had her start with some nose touches, get several of those, then wait for a few, then to use a treat by the bar to start taking it. In probably 5-10 minutes time, he was taking it on his own. She was so thrilled (as was I)! On Friday, during her lesson, I'd suggested that she have her dog work for his meals, with the goal being to build some "want to" into him, since he was lacking a lot in the enthusiasm-for-obedience department. No work? No meal, or at least a significant delay in its arrival. Saturday morning, she greeted me with excitement. On Friday, we had worked on just doing an efficient set up, including head-up attention. The first time she asked for the set-up, I think she said he just sat wherever. So she said, "Oh, too bad, no meal," and walked away. She said the look on his face was hilarious. I think he did a decent set up 10 minutes later and got his meal. The next morning, he set up promptly, did a pivot as asked, and got his meal. For his dinner Saturday night, he had to take the metal article, and for Sunday's breakfast, she had him take it a couple of times, and then retrieve it, which he did. So late Sunday afternoon, as I talked about how I teach Scent Discrimination (Janice DeMello's Around the Clock), I walked her through the process with her dog. I knew it was a gamble - after all, he'd just started retrieving it again that morning, but he did great and was retrieving the right one each time with very little extra help. It was so incredibly satisfying!

Also, she said when she arrived at the building today, he was eager to get out of her vehicle, and he came in and ran and greeted several people enthusiastically, which is unusual for him. He was also awake and watching in his crate much more than usual.

There were several Border terrier owners there this weekend and they loved the fact that I've trained a bunch of terriers. I also got expressions of appreciation because I talk candidly about my failures as well as my successes (heck, I show terriers - it's part of the territory!). Last weekend, with my 3 Open B NQs, was a prime example ;-). I asked my host if any of her other seminar givers ever talk about failures, and she said no, absolutely not!

It was another exhilarating trip, and I am so lucky to get to do this with so many fun people.

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