Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bobbie Anderson Seminar Notes

Well BOTC's seminar is in the books - It was a resounding success - lots and lots of good information - This is a brain dump of sorts and I'll work through what I applied directly to my work with my dogs.

Bobbie mentioned that nothing happens only in the ring. If there's a problem in the relationship between the dog and handler it becomes magnified in the ring - dogs that shut down, dogs that leave their handler, dogs that lag on the heeling, etc. I saw that concept a lot this weekend - little things like dogs not wanting to play with their handler and a lot of handlers bribing the dogs to do things - dog doesn't come on the recall so the handler begs and gives second and third commands at which point the dog finally returns to the handler. Bobbie insists on one command and never letting a dog release itself to anything. We get into this in class all the time - I really hate hearing people repeating "sit, sit, sit! I said SIT!" over and over again. The dogs tune them out and learn quickly that it's when mom or dad gets mad that they finally have to sit. I've always been careful not to fall into that pattern - but I'll admit it's hard when the dog is sitting on the table and doesn't seem inclined to down.

Play - such an important part of making this fun for the dogs - engaging them and generating some impulse control - The toy belongs to you - not the dog. He shouldn't be self-rewarding with the toy - work around them all the time and don't hide the toys - I tend to do a lot of that myself - tucking tennis balls in my bra and tuggies in my back pocket. It's just not necessary - Teller needs to work around it.

How do you define correction? Interesting concept here - and yes, I know a lot of it is entirely semantics. Correction in the positive training realm has come to mean collar pop, yank, pull, ear pinch, or some other physical method of punishment. Bobbie uses correction in the sense of correcting - or fixing. Fixes don't have the same negative association in the dog training world do they?

Collar stuff...I was happy to see that there wasn't a rush on the prong collar or choke chain - buckle collars were for the most part the rule this weekend - a couple handlers had them - but there were no collar pops all weekend! Bobbie does advocate a fair amount of taking the dogs collar and fixing them - if they went down on a sit stay she takes the collar holds the dog in position and says something to the effect of "shame on you, you know better than that" (in that grandma voice that makes you feel so guilty for breaking the 100 year old pickle dish). Then she puts the dog back into a sit, releases asks for another sit and rewards. I have always done something similar in the sense of dog goes down, help him back up and then reward the sit - the difference here is that I was helping - in Bobbie's method you don't reward what you helped - you reward what the dog does. So once you have fixed the position you let the dog think and reward the correct behavior.

Training vs. practicing - how much do we train and how much do we practice. The take-home here (and again semantics) was that we should do a lot more training and a lot less practicing. BUT - that's an excellent point - and I had noticed a similar thing with Teller in agility - now that he's reasonably competent in his work I had stopped breaking down behaviors as much as I need to - I was practicing when I clearly should have been training. How many times do I do a formal recall with Teller? Way too often - I should be breaking that down way more often - practicing a bit here and there to see where things are - but way more training.

That flows into the next thought: Bobbie breaks the obedience behaviors into many many pieces and said that she rarely works the whole behavior. I've recently (this week) started the drop on recall with Teller - I was shocked when the first time I asked him to drop on a recall that he just did it. Well let's think about the pieces - I've ALWAYS asked him for random drops even in puppyhood - if he generalizes the drop - he'll get the drop on recall. So...I'm going to work more informal stuff to see if I can get even faster and more flashy DORs. This ties in so closely with the training vs practicing piece - TRAIN MORE!

Pivots! I've never had a good left pivot - Not with Teller and really not with Murphy. I've struggled a lot with how to teach it properly and to some extent because I didn't have a clear picture of how to get there I haven't really taught it. Murphy fuddled his way through rally advanced and excellent pivots passing the exercise because of my footwork - not his understanding...I got some great advice here about working from the stand - teaching a kickback stand (which took Woo all of two reps) and then inducing the pivot - damn - it just happened!

Teller is more or less ready for Open - more polish on a few things - lots more training :-) Utility stuff - I think I have a much better handle on how I'd like to teach things. We did a lot of marking this weekend and I'm going to work that through for both the gloves and go-outs.

My takeaway from this weekend is that I'm a little further along with Teller than I thought he was - or he was a little further along THIS WEEKEND than I thought he was - we've got a lot of the parts and pieces, we just need to continue breaking things down - and keep things successful.

As for our homework - Teller and I really need a better partnership - I need more control in the sense of keeping him tuned in with me - he's got this amazing amount of energy and desire to work - but I need to help him channel it - it's not going to work for both of us if he does this beautiful heel work and then lunges at someone who smiles at him as we're leaving the ring - and oh yeah - that happened this weekend and ALWAYS when I'm holding the leash in my left hand (bad wrist).

He also wanted everyone else's dumbbell more than he wanted his own - Wheeeeee! So I think I need to back up here and go back to working sit for greeting - and impulse control!! I might even break out the grandma guilt voice..."Did you just jump on her head? Shame on you silly boy, let's try that again without the mauling of strangers". For those of you in the area don't be surprised if I ask you to throw dumbbells for your dog while Teller and I try to cope with vast amounts of excitement coming at us from all directions.

Lastly I noticed the phenomena several times where people will insist to the seminar presenter (and to fellow participants) that "their dogs NEVER do that" or "he's never done that before" even when we've all seen their dogs do that a bunch of times in practice and at shows...I hope that I'm able to see my (our) mistakes and what we need to work on as we move forward. On the same vein I spoke to Bobbie a bit about pressure and Murphy - throwing dumbbells into populated corners of the ring, tri-colored aussies putting pressure on the weave poles, etc. The answer I got back was basically a) that's who he is and b) work through it. I know that's who he is - no surprise, working through it is hard - because he doesn't "want" it badly enough to push into that pressure bubbles. Yes, that's an excuse and in this case I'm OK with it. I also see some of the relationship issues that Bobbie mentioned - Murph still gets into these moments where he's overstimulated and starts with the tail chasing, or the jumping, etc...What are we missing from our relationship that is causing that? I'm mulling it over and I'll repost something when I have a good answer.

So all in all a good weekend I think. It went by fast - two very long days. I'd LOVE to crawl into bed early tonight but unfortunately I've got to work tonight until about 6am (at least I'm working from home!). At around 8pm tonight I was trying to decide if I wanted to take a 4 hour nap or just work right through tomorrow evening - 40 hour day or 4 hour nap? I decided the nap would probably make things worse not better so...I'm up and will hopefully make it through the next 24 hours :-)

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