WOOOO HOOOO!!!! Lizzie went for her second lesson with the new herding instructor today. WOW, a big difference from the first lesson. Lizzie had been instinct tested several times, and had some lessons with an instructor when she was younger and she always seemed happy and confident doing herding. Then I started with an instructor and had a series of lessons with him and all of a sudden she did not want to stay with the sheep, she looked confused and not very happy. I knew that was not what I was taking Lizzie herding for....so I went to an instructor I had heard some great things about, a lot more expensive and a lot longer drive and she is always booked up and I can not seem to figure out when the schedule comes out so I can snag some of the good spots....but even with all that this lady is really turning out to be well worth the extra effort-and hopefully I will get it all figured out soon.
The new instructors name is Robin and she has explained many times that how she wants to teach is to not use any coercion or force, but to let the dog work out what they can do and to let the dog think. She also explained that is why she is not worried that it is a little longer between lessons because when a dog figures out something for themselves they are not going to forget it. That whole philosophy is what I have seen with clicker training and shaping, so it is an approach that Liz likes and is used to. I can see the stress around the sheep herding lifting as Robin lets her figure out what she needs to do, and she is really enjoying things again, so that makes me really happy. Robin just seems so good about reading Liz, good about making sure there are easy sheep that help build Liz confidence, and getting her to work a little past the point where Liz would like to quit trying to think-which is tiring for her-but not so long that she is fried and just quits.
So the things I notice that are much better this lesson where
#1. Liz is able to work longer and is not wanting to give up and go sit in the corner, and when she did leave a few times and think about sitting down most of the time she came right back, I think there were only two times when she really felt she needed to lay down and think about things-then she ran in and chased the sheep-but she was not quitting.
#2. Robin was actually able to change her direction and Liz was understanding when Robin would say "there, there" she would stop trying to circle and figured out that meant to just start heading forward, she was actually using some balance behind the sheep and staying behind them moving them forward nicely a few times. No one up to now have been able to get Liz to comfortably change her direction and go left and right, she was always going to the left I think, but it was really hard in the past to get her to go to the right.
#3. Liz has been afraid to look at the sheep, it was pretty funny last lesson because she was always staring at them out of the corner of her eye and trying not to let them see her look at them, she was working HARD to not look like she was looking at them. Robin explained that she did not know her own power or how to use it so she was afraid if she looked at them they would take off so she felt she had to not look or she would lose them. She was using total avoidance the first lesson. Today she was experimenting with looking at them and I could really see her trying different levels of pressure and power to try to move the sheep, that was neat to watch.
MOST OF ALL today I saw her really thinking and Liz is happiest when she is really using her brain, I could tell it was really wearing her out but she was happy, so that made me happy.
One of the cutest things today was a litter of Cardigan Corgi pups that were there in the lesson before mine, oooh my gosh those are the cutest puppies and seeing those tiny little pups with the sheep....very cute.
After the herding we stopped and saw Karen from Contact Points- Puppies. Is there anything cuter then a puppy and this was the Nel/Zing litter, so dad is a half brother of my Breeze, and the mom is the coolest dog ever Nel....so I was really wishing that I had went ahead and got one of those pups when my favorites were still available, all the pups that were there now have been promised except one of the cutest little boys.....he is a bit shier but I would love to see how he would be after a few days away from the litter. Cherry was there and that was the first time the kids have seen her since she left, so my youngest was really happy to see her. She wanted to bring Cherry AND a pup home, LOL.
After the pup adventure we stopped at a really terrific restaurant for some Mexican food, and then hit the beach. Breeze loves the beach more and more every time we go. Now as soon as we get there I let her go and she runs into the waves, LOL, she gets way out in the water and then turns and waits for me to throw something. Breeze is so much fun because I can let her go off leash and never worry about her heading for the road or leaving. Liz did GREAT, she has to be on a long time but I never had to grab it and it never went tight, she was having so much fun with the waves, and maybe she was tired enough after herding that she was the perfect girl.