Brain Dump — aka December Seminar #1

We arent doing any trials this month, instead we are going into full bore seminar mode. At least they are about as far apart form each other as possible while still within 30 days of each other, but I have a feeling at the end of it all I wont know what to do with myself. Or maybe I will, I guess thats the point.

Today we had day two of a handling seminar with Daisy Peel.* My biggest takeaway from the whole thing was how much I really, really like the Mecklenberg-based system. I have already been doing it for a while, but having someone who really, really knows it like the back of their hand explaining to you the endless options you have to work with, starting with the foundational six cues, was very enlightening.** And, it made me feel more confident that I will also be able to competently handle Phin using that system, even though he is fast and powerful.

Actually, one of my concerns was that because Forest is “not-fast” and Phin is the opposite that I would have trouble transitioning between the two. However, Daisy made me run my ass off this weekend, which, lo and behold, got Forest moving. I have been in a place for a while where I understood this concept, but there was a disconnect between my understanding of just running anywhere fast and the actual proper locations to get him going—as in often times needing to go in waaaay deeper somewhere to keep him moving instead of sending and taking off away from him. With Phin, I will be able to direct and run, but with Forest, he needs the support.

I was for the majority of the session, the lone “non-Border Collie” handler, and I am 99% sure I was the only one there running their first agility dog. That was a little tough at times. It was a Masters handling seminar that I somehow squeaked into through the backdoor, and the level was high, but we hung in there. Clearly, I was not on the same “foundational playing field” as most of the others and was laid into a bit about it. I get it, I am not in denial, but I am all the more proud of my pound-puppy-cum-first-ever-agility-dog. He is not going to go overseas ever. Maybe not even to Nationals, ever. Hell, if we even ever qualify for Nationals and/or get an Excellent/Masters title I’ll be happy with him. I think he is pretty awesome, hands down.

Main points from my notes;

  • Run with him, pacing him so that you don’t get too far ahead, either abandoning him or slamming on the breaks. He does not need that many turning cues.
  • Watch your dog always, even on the startline. Eye contact is one of the six cues. Walk a course assuming your dog will be running behind you, with your head turned back, see how that changes your perspective.
  • Shut up. Stop “cheerleading”/pushing him to go faster. Only verbal should be obstacle cues or verbal markers for correct decisions or good efforts. Pay attention to his decisions and try to reward the right ones at least with a verbal–this will help build confidence.
  • She also had some funny one liners about a few things, especially blind crosses. She said “They are not sexy, don’t do them just because they’re sexy!” Her point was there’s a time and a place for them, but it needs to be the right time and place.

So really it boils down to; run faster, shut up and support your dog. I think can do that. The training better contacts part however….. Ugh. Thats a never-ending battle that probably will go with me to my grave.

* I did have video from yesterday, but my Lumix  point-and-shoot is suddenly is shooting a different file format that my computer doesnt like. Ergh. We’ll see if I have the patience to figure that out or just abort the files.

** I realize I sound like one of those crazy “system” Nazis. Maybe I just am a believer! For me and for my dogs anyways. It clicks with me so I am officially on the APHS train. Their main spiel is that you are using mostly “natural” cues as opposed to trained cues. Seeing how quickly Phin has picked up on my handling with a minimal amount of jump training makes me believe it. Thats my pitch, I’ll shut up now. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Brain Dump — aka December Seminar #1

  1. So would you reccommend one of her seminars for a first time agility handler? She is having a foundations seminar that I really, really want to go to, but…..I don’t have a BC either!! So unsure if we would ‘fit in’ 🙂

    • Hi Catalina, thanks for visiting. My answer to your question is “it depends”. I think she is a phenomenal teacher. She has a great eye and can pinpoint and explain exactly what you need to do to fix whatever issue you are having. My caveat though is that she is not “nice”. She is not warm or fuzzy, at all. She may go easier on a Foundation group than the group I was with, but after talking to quite a few people about it, it doesnt sound like she’ll soften up a ton. It really depends on you and how well you can take criticism. I am a relatively tough cookie, and honestly, after our first run I contemplated not going back the second day because of some things she said to me. But, I sucked it up and after a few days of being able to marinate on what she was trying to teach me and getting over my feelings being hurt I know she helped me a lot. If you have a really thick skin and can ignore anything that could be taken personally, then I would say yes. About the Border Collie thing–I am not sure how long youve been doing agility or if this is your first dog, but even in a Foundations seminar I am guessing she will have very experienced people with “foundation dogs”. You can either be frustrated by that or learn from it… again, kind of how you tend to respond to being in over your head. Good luck, let me know if you decide to go!

  2. Thanks so much for responding! I wish I had checked back sooner 🙂
    I signed up to audit one session and have a working spot in another session (I think, the club hasn’t let me know if I got a spot or not yet). It’s only 1/2 a day, so hopefully I can survive.
    I ended up deciding to sign up, because one of my classmates in the Silvia Trkman online class that I took this summer (the first time – we had to take it again this fall) took a foundation session at a Daisy Peel seminar and said she was really nice LOL!! She let me watch her videos of the seminar and DP seemed pretty relaxed and not too mean 🙂
    I’ve had some experience with REALLY bad trainers, so anyone that doesn’t tell me to hit my dog is doing good!
    I’m sure we will be at the bottom of the class, because we always are :), but it’s OK. After all someone has to be at the bottom!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience of Daisy’s seminar. I have heard that she’s not always warm and fuzzy but my experience with her has always been good and she’s my idea of the perfect handler. I love how connected she is with her dogs throughout the course.
    I don’t run a BC either (although I did for 8 or 9 years) and I think the LM system works for every type of handler and dog because it relies on natural cues rather than trained ones. I’ve made far more progress in the three years since I’ve been learning the motion based system than I did in the 5 years and more I spent following the Derrett system. Before that I had no system and did even worse 🙂

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