I am having so much fun. Spring Agility Camp is here in Murrietta, CA, just north of San Diego. The venue is where I have done several seminars in the past and it is gorgeous. There are three groups of ten people working and a few auditors. One group is just with baby or new dogs working just on foundation and the rest of us are in two groups that rotate doing half the day with skills and drills-learning specific skills on smaller sequences designed for us to use those skills, then we go to a full course where we put the skills into practice. Each day has a specific focus and day 1's focus is on using motion appropriately.
Our first session was with Karen Hollick -doing skills and drills. We worked on the 4 different type of rear crosses and then worked on forward moving front crosses. First off I want to say up front it was so fantastic because this is the first lesson or working with anyone that I did not get a mention one time during the WHOLE day reminding me how fast my dog is and how slow I am ;-). I loved it first I worked really hard to move and I have been doing the John Cullens Fleet Feet practicing ;-), and second maybe the courses were set up so some places were really hard to get there-where I needed ro be.....but I was able to do it. It is a drag and discouraging and really not a help to my self imagine when people do that, like people, trust me I am aware of that situation, ;-). So anyway this whole day did so much to help my confidence that we can do it, I left feeling very proud of myself and my dog.
One of the huge things I got from the first lesson was how to handle the dreaded SFL's. What is an SFL? a STRAIGHT FREAKIN' LINE! When you have a fast dog and slower handler (most of us) if your dog is going to overtake and pass you then as they get further and further ahead they are likely to turn to see where you are, possibly spin, possibly get a refusal . So Karen pointed out that I need to look at places Cricket will be passing me and work to start out further away laterally and then converge on her line going forward, moving like in a V toward her so that the extra pressure helps her know she is on the right path and discourage her from spining back to me. I look for those in long courses but we were doing a speed circle, so just a simple jump, jump, tunnel, jump, jump, tunnel, jump, jump, tunnel--designed to get a lot of speed and be fun but I was getting some look back when Cricket got way ahead.
I worked really hard on not giving up at the end of a course and slowing down, which really helps Cricket (yea, yea, yea, or any dog!) hahahahha, of course I knew that, but I can be a bit lazy and will stop without driving to the last obstacle ;-) I admit it!!!
One thing I have been thinking about lately is watching like the WAO's and doing the Fleet Feet program to move better in agility there is a lot of sideways movements, and backwards movements and getting down to put your hand in your dogs vision. Karen talked about how to bend your knees and get down to where your dog can see your cues. She also showed how if you raise your hands too high you can see how your shoulders start to rotate. If you stand looking at yourself in a mirror and raise your hand out front and just keep raising it you will see your shoulders starting to open up which can give your dog signals you did not intend.
One of my legacies of where I started agility training has been that I used to have really BAD rear crosses. Cricket learned them correctly, where I have my shoulders faceing the jump then I step behind her for motion toward her and then maybe step back or turn. The bad way I learned was where I use my arm to lead the dog forward and turn my shoulders, it is a hard habit to break and it sends my dog either really wide or spinnning on the landing side of the jump. I usually revert back to my bad RC when I get nervous. I have been working on that for awhile and knew what to do but for some reason boy the reason I should do them like that has become so much clearer.
ANYWAY, Cricket did so good, she had the tightest little turns and was having such fun and running so well.....after our last run Karen looked at us and said "boy, that is an awesome little dog" ;-) It left me grinning ear to ear!
Next we worked with full courses with Jen Crank. OMG, LOVE her as an instructor. She really talked in each instance about say this particular type of rear cross, how many of the six basic cues would be forward cues and how many would be turning cues. WHY did that start really hitting home yesterday? hummm, I do not know but it was making it all clearer and easier to figure out.
The biggest thing I got from her that pertains to my team-TEAM CRiCKET- is something called PERCEIVED DECELERATION. This is when your dog might come up to your side and pass you and gets in front of you and keeps getting further and further ahead of you. At some point esp with a brand new dog that has not learned about this the dog THINKS you are decelerating and acts accordingly-turning around to find you, stopping, barking, what ever. You are not going slower but to the dog it seems you are. She said the absolute WORST thing you can do when your dog is doing this is it stop. No matter where the course goes or what you have to do you should continue going straight and driving ahead so the dog is reassured that if mom is running behind you and pumping her arms, you can keep going, she really isn't getting left behind. If you stop and then your dogs curls back to you, you reward, the dog thinks, yep that was a decel and I did GOOD. ;-)
So there was once where Cricket did that and she was between my feet, so safety has to factor in but I need to remember to keep driving ahead ;-). It was funny too when Jen really put the pressure on us, hey, make that happen and I don't want to see any refusals right there, even I did better at pushing and it worked.
Anyway, as far as skills, boy our contacts were everything I dreamed of, we had some problems with popping out at pole 11 when I was trying to pull of laterally one time, but she was rocking some fantastic entries and after the first sequence she did great weaves. Her running aframe was just looking great-yippie!
On the bad side boy she was a nut. Cricket is sure every turn should be hers, she was doing a fair amount of barking in her crate and she is wild walking into a ring. She looks like a fish on a line, she lunges at the dogs running and jumps and twists. At least yesterday she could take a treat or tug while she was waiting for her turn. I get her out as late as I can but boy when we get in bigger classes and I have to wait in the ring more often while dogs are going to be running-we are going to have to figure something out because she is a nut and so stimulated by the other dogs movement. The other funny part of her behavior yesterday was her bitching me out. When I was late with a cross boy she would whirl in front of me and just SCREAM at me all the way back to the start line. Jen was laughing, after one front cross ...I knew it was late and Cricket started screaming, I looked at Jen and said Cricket says that was late. Jen was laughing and said shes right. LOL.
Anyway, in the evening we had a mental management seminar with Daisy and I will have to tell you about that later because it is time for me to get going. Todays focus at camp is going to be SENDS.
I am apologizing for spelling errors, probably a lot of errors, I just have not figured out how to do posting really well from the ipad, but I wanted to post about what we were doing!