Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Southern Odyssey Days 13-15

Thing I highlighted in my notes from the 3.5 day Mike Lardy seminar:
  • Always have a holding blind set up so it is routine. (it is very easy to be lazy and not do it)
  • Mike uses MARK when the dog is already looking in the right direction vs. using it to get the dog to look where you want.
  • He writes down what to do in the next training session at the end of the current one.
  • The "dead bird" cue is introduced on Pattern Blinds, not on pile work.
  • "We push dogs a lot, but not with a lot of pressure, and not daily."
  • Yard work - review previous steps, get to the heart of the lesson, and end with something simple.
  • The dog needs to learn to be able to keep working through pressure instead of quitting.
  • Don't enter a test if you are having to correct something frequently.
  • He gets rid of white bumpers in the water ASAP. He uses them initially to stretch out distances, but then goes to black and whites, and then solid blacks.
  • To increase success, have the gunner who is throwing remain standing. Sitting down after the throw is harder.
  • When forcing on remote send, be sure to wait for the dog to complete the turn before applying force.
  • "The style you force on is the style you force in," i.e., if your dog working slowly when you add force, he will probably continue to work that way.
  • Force has to be aversive without being overwhelming.
  • "You don't gain much from perfect." - he wants to have the dog make mistakes at certain stages, so he can learn. This was something Mike said when demonstrating the "No-no Drill", which is essentially like a retrieve over the high jump in obedience, just at much longer distances. If the dog goes around on the way to the pile, he is called back after being told NO! I love this succinct way of putting this. I think when I teach Directed Jumping for Utility, this will be a very useful quote to remember.
  • You are done with force to pile when you don't get escape behaviors from the dog in response to the force.
  • Skipping steps is detrimental to the steps that follow!
  • Dogs need to be confident hunters. Start with white bumpers, but move to dark ones quickly and put them in cover early.
  • Standards are important.
I would say just about all of the 10 working teams made excellent progress on their training during the seminar. There were some great problem-solving segments that were very interesting to watch. Mike would talk about the process and why he was making some of the choices he was making in the attempts to solve the problems the dogs were having with different aspects of the program. I found myself saying "Good dog!" a lot, sometimes rather loudly, when the dog was doing better :-).

I took notes throughout the seminar on my iPad Noteshelf app (if you have an iPad and DON'T have Noteshelf, get it. It's my favorite app). A lot of people noticed and asked me questions. Jennifer, who was helping Mike with equipment logistics, saw it and said, "You've got to show Mike!" so I did. Somewhat to my surprise, when he was talking about record keeping on Sunday morning, he asked me to get up and describe how I use it to keep training records. Sure is a good thing I'm used to speaking in front of big groups of dog trainers. After I sat down, I realized I could have been terrified. But I wasn't. Pretty funny that what I got noticed for was my geeky side.

We got on the road about 1 PM and stayed Sunday night in Knoxville, TN at yet another Red Rood Inn. Considering their website says "Pets stay free," I was disappointed when they told me that 1 pet stays free, and subsequent ones are $10 each. I said it would be awfully nice if the website didn't lie and say Pets stay free. I hope that doesn't get to be a trend at more Red Roof Inns :-(.

I love to pull out Google Maps on my iPad to try to find empty fields in which to do some training. There was one right around the corner from the motel, so I got packed up and went over to it and gave all the dogs about 10 minutes of training each. I did my direction changing drill with Gryff and Ty - 3 stakes set up with 4-5 bumpers at each, with some lining to a pile, but more stopping and casting to a different destination. I devised this drill for Ty last summer because she was so poor at changing directions. When I was doing it regularly, she really loved it, and would run harder and more confidently as the drill progressed. I saw that again this morning. I did some field obedience with Sonic, then did some Traffic Cop marks (Bill Hillman's name). Then we hit the road about 9:30 and got back home about 6:30 PM. 

We are all glad to be home. We put over 2700 miles on the Burb in the past 15 days. Sonic was very happy to have a romp with her buddy Joker, who had stayed home. I can't wait to continue building on Sonic's field foundation. The seminar was perfectly timed to remind me of the many steps to come, and fire up my enthusiasm to keep progressing.

We did Week 4 Day 4 of Around the Clock articles before dinner. 15th day in a row. Very pleased with her progress.

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