Whirlwind weekend; chickens, ballrooms and tunnel phobia

We’ve had a busy last few days. I got to go to two days of the APDT conference, which I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about. I enjoyed clicker expo back in January, but wasnt sure if I’d go back, and I expected this to be similar. Except for of course the chicken part which I was fired up about. I was fortunate to sign up early enough to get a spot in one of the Click a Chick workshops. It was awesome–those buggers are fast and furious and make you realize how atrocious your timing actually is. I am at the point where I am clicking dogs literally, for four to six hours a day, and none yet have been even close in speed and accuracy demand to my chicken Bertie #5. The poultry are not into messing around apparently. I would do a chicken camp in a heartbeat if the time and funds ever allow.

Also got to see some great speakers and overall really enjoyed my time there and felt it was well-spent. I am marinating on some other thoughts I hope I find time to write about later, but I’ll leave it at that for professional stuff.

On Sunday we squeaked in one day at a local AKC trial at my favorite five-minutes-from-my-house location. Forest was a super-star again, winning his Ex A JWW class (technically I should have moved up but I didnt realize it until last minute then forgot about it til too late… oh well). He also was so great in Standard–nailing all contacts and his weaves, but I had another tunnel discrimination freak out and totally over-handled/over-thought it, blowing his mind and sending him off course onto the dog walk. I am so freaked out by tunnel disciminations these days that I go into analysis paralysis mode and end up making things way more complicated than they need to be. Lucky for me he at least humors me and soldiers on. Hopefully now that the pendulum has swung from me not handling them at all to me over-freaking about it I can get back somewhere in the middle.

As Laurie said not long ago, he is a very “honest” dog, now especially that I (usually) do a better job of telling him where to go. He also saved my ass in Standard by blasting out of a tunnel full speed and having to crank back hard to make it over the next jump–lots of dogs would have just run around and punished me for not calling him earlier, but he knew what his job was. Such a good little rabbit to put up with me.

Phin and I had a very frustrating running contacts session today. I had put the plank up for the first time on the table and I dont think he made a single contact except for one where he slowed down because he was choking on a treat. Awesome. He hits that thing full blast and flies off the end. I think Silvia would say he needs to run more, which I guess is possible, but the thought of him going even faster is rather terrifying to me. I need to get out the video camera and see what the hell I can do to make it better.I am kinda on my own with this fun little project… I could be crying uncle and crapping out eventually but I am going to put it in writing here that I will stick to my guns on this. As long as it doesnt kill me or my dog. Which it could.

At least his weaves are coming along great. We arent exactly on Susan Garrett’s 12 poles in 12 days or whatever, but its coming along. He is hitting the entries for the most part from most any angle and we’re up to 4 poles. Almost ready to add another set of 2x2s.He has not yet learned to collect, so unlike his honest brother, he will blast past the entry if he is going too fast. So, no need to rush things on that front.

And as usual I need to scale back and work more on the basics. His swing/pivot still isnt where I want it to be and he can always use more stimulus control work. My dogs, not so great in the Stimulus Control department. I wonder whose fault that is?

– photos by Matt Miller

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