Posts Tagged ‘Two Minute Dog Trainer’

Memorial Weekend at Stockade Agility

May 28, 2015

If you design a course with a very low Q rate it possibly says something significant about the design. Maybe it’s too technical and should be reserved for a Masters Challenge class. But looking back at the course I cannot really spy the painfully technical bits. You tell me!

I’ll share the course with you:

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It’s clear that when designing a course I see myself in the context of that design; I mean, me as handler and competitor (as opposed to me the unrelenting design Grinch.) This means that I design for an old guy with arthritic knees who runs a dog with really excellent independent performance skills. As a practical matter most sequences will fold back in on themselves, allowing me to move from control position to control position while allowing the dog to work at speed.

On the course map I’ve marked two places I know I have to be to give good direction in a technical moment. The first “X” solves the #6 pipe tunnel while the dog is faced with three options on the dismount of the dogwalk. The second “X” solves the modest backside approach to jump #11.

Legendary

I had the pleasure to judge Wendy Cerilli at this trial. Understand that I was witnessing a legend in the making here. Wendy runs TEN Aussie dogs… in every class. If you grasp what this means… this is no wimpy AKC trial with two runs a day. This is the USDAA where the big dogs play. That means Wendy was in the ring 50 times a day.

The fun thing is that she used the same handling plan with all dogs; with considerable success, mind you. This made it easy for me to understand and predict my judging position, even in the dog’s choice games.

I’ve had the luck to judge many legendary figures over the years. I’m tickled to add Wendy to that list.

Speaking of Legends

Fran Seibert came out to the trial site just to say hi to me. Many of the real heroes in this sport are folks who’ve run agility schools since the early days of agility in this country, and have introduced hundreds and hundreds of people to our sport (like Zona at Rocky Mountain Agility out in Denver; Terry Bessler out in South Dakota; and dozens of others around the country).

Years ago I did a seminar at Fran’s place. I was talking to the group about the “Laws of a Dog in Motion”. Fran tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the back of the building… where the “Laws” are stenciled in a big bold display:

The Laws of a Dog in Motion

  1. The dog turns when the handler turns
  2. The dog tends to work in a path parallel to the handler’s path
  3. A dog ahead of the handler tends to curl back to the handler’s position
  4. The dog gets his speed cue from the handler’s speed
  5. The dog gets his direction cue from the handler’s shoulders, toes, hips, and movement

You can put an asterisk next to #3 with the notation: Nothing straightens the line like the certainty in the mind of a well-trained dog.

Masters Standard Continued …

Okay, my analysis of why the Q rate was so low on this course. The “Laws of a Dog In Motion” fundamentally describe a context for handler discipline and timing. It was early in the trial. People were still tight and more than a bit nervous. A minor error, the tic of a bar, half an inch outside the yellow, a bobble in the weaves … it doesn’t take much to elude the Q.

In fact, the players at the Stockade trial were amazing to watch, and brought considerable skill and grace to the field. Reminds me of why I love dog agility.

Giddy Up

Lisa Barrett ran a little Toy Poodle named Giddy Up all weekend. This little dog was amazing, yipping and digging her nails into every moment, attacking the course with every ounce of her little body. Lisa is an accomplished handler who understands every nuance of handler movement and pressure. Together the two were a show for the big tent.

Returning Home

I was about sun struck over the weekend. Standing out in the sun for three days is physically demanding. Like an idiot, I had left my Akubra (hat) sitting by the door at home. <sigh>

I continued working with our young girl Cedar when I got home. We’re getting her ready to raise hell at the TDAA Petit Prix this year. And you need skills to survive in the little dog venue.

http://youtu.be/Y6PuGWTsBc8

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, an invaluable reference to clubs engaged in league play.

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Cedar’s Continued Teeter Training

January 5, 2015

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Click on the picture above for a very short video of Cedar working the teeter after four or five days of training. You can compare that to the intro video we published a few days ago: http://youtu.be/x-eQK-90pIs

The Tell?

The other day I had a remarkable session with Cedar in which I gave her a series of 9 Left and Right commands, and she spun the correct direction each time. Then I handed over the job (and the treats) to Marsha, who conducted the same experiment. Cedar’s success rate plunged to around 50%.

What do you think that was about?

I have this idea that maybe I have a subtle “tell”. Cedar has become expert at reading my tell and promptly follows this reading to tell which direction to turn. For many years I studied what I call “phantom” movements; that is, the dog follows a cue that the handler isn’t aware that he’s given. There’s a phantom Blind Cross and a phantom Front Cross… even a phantom Tandem Turn.

Most physical cues that we give actually have a complicated chain of physical events which lead eventually to the substantial cue. The dog becomes expert at reading that chain and begins working backwards, down the chain, to take the cue on a precursor event.

Of course, I’m actually engaged in teaching Cedar verbal cues rather than physical cues. It makes me believe that no matter how much I’m endeavoring to put the performance on a verbal-only cue my body can’t help but give a helpful twitch that betrays my intent.

Fascinating study!

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Two-a-Day

December 22, 2014

I’m actually busy on a lot of fronts these past few days. There’s a bunch of stuff that I can’t share on my blog (not quite yet). These are tough days for other reasons. Marsha’s father passed away about a week ago. And I don’t really want to talk about the goings on as a public matter.

Cedar is getting her two-a-day training. Her “distance” training is bringing us to the point that we’ll have to take her out of the basement and to the training building (or out to the lower field if this really nice warm weather lasts much longer). Though she’s only five months old this is an important time in a dog’s life to build some great behaviors that she will own for her whole life.

By this time next year we’ll be filling out her very first trial entries! It’s funny that it’s a whole year away. It sounds like a lot of time. But it’s not so much when you consider that there’s so much to do.

Football

I used to be a for real NFL football fan. I’m thinking that Michael Vick took that away from me. He was like a complete scumbag that horribly mistreated dogs in his care. I know that he “paid his time.” I resent that he can crawl out of prison and earn millions as a professional football player.

On a morning sports talk show I remember a group of expert pundits, so called, sitting around a table, talking about Vick. One of them said “You’ve got to admire that he was a stand-up guy and didn’t roll on anyone else!” That means he didn’t expose the other scumbags who were out enjoying their vicious sport.

I’m trying to imagine the same bunch of guys sitting around a table talking about Jerry Sandusky…  “You’ve got to admire that he was a stand-up guy and didn’t roll on anyone else!”

The idea that the NFL would allow Michael Vick into their league… that the NY Jets would take this man reflects so poorly on them. Since he got out of prison he’s been a complete lowlife as a player. He doesn’t prepare for his games and doesn’t care if his team wins or loses. He just shows up and cashes his check. That’s what kind of man he is. Both the Jets and the NFL got what they deserve out of this scumbag.

* * *

The proliferation of sports talk shows is really kind of a grind. You tune into these things to hear who’s going to win and lose upcoming games. And to the credit of these “experts” they manage to be right about 50% of the time.

It’s funny listening to their awkward use of the English language. That’s the only thing fun about any of these programs. A fellow the other day said “Cam Newton’s injury looks worse than it appears to be!”

And all of them sing praise to their patron sport: “If it wasn’t for football, I wouldn’t be playing football today!”

The Hobbit

Did you see the trilogy of Hobbit movies? What did you think?

Tomorrow I want to chat about them.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Cedar at 19+ Weeks

December 17, 2014

She’s still a young thing, growing like a weed, and getting lots of early training. It’s an interesting commentary that this young dog, in her foundation training, has both “Right” and “Left”, a 2o/2o contact, does a pipe tunnel, and will send to a Hoop… but isn’t much house trained yet (doing her business outside).

I’ll share this rambling video with you: http://youtu.be/AAzXmyhy2RM

Only in the last couple of days I’ve introduced Cedar to the performance of a NADAC-style hoop. This was initially trained by free-shaping. She’s a clever enough girl, is well conditioned  to offering performance, and can figure out pretty quick what earns her praise and reward.

We begin with the simple performance of a hoop. I will add new hoops over the next few days and teach her to run through the lot of them for her reward. Then gradually, over a period of weeks, I’ll spread them out more and more until she is giving me the performance at a fantastic distance. When they are spread out I’ll include the “Go On!” directional which shall ever mean to continue working in the line of obstacles in front of her.

I’m mostly fascinated with teaching these skills to a small dog. She’s going to be whipstitch fast. So there’s no way I intend to make the error of gluing her to me for the simple work of agility.

Cedar’s Nobel Growth Chart at 19-1/2 Weeks

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You can see that during my “busy” period… I’ve left a gap in the chart. Nonetheless, Cedar is riding the classical Sheltie pattern of growth on a constant curve.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.