So… I’m outing myself (again). I signed up for Susan Garrett’s Contacts class. That’s fine, you can laugh, I’m getting used to it already. I signed up because I have had a pretty terrible time with Forest’s contacts, as anyone who has read this blog more than once knows. And with Phin, I really, really want to do it right the first time. Honestly I’ve felt pretty adrift about the whole thing and havent had much support with anyone I see or talk to on on a regular basis. I half-heartedly tried to follow Silvia’s running contacts methods early on with Phin but either he was too young, or I was just not getting it, or both, so that project was fairly quickly abandoned.
At this point I just want to, no need to, do a better job of defining criteria for their contacts, and I do feel that SG does a great job with that. She already has given some “pre-course” assignments that I have done, and I have to say the one I did today was pretty humbling. I can and do train excellent stays (which is why my dogs have great startlines), but their stimulus control is atrocious. We were supposed to do an exercise involving cueing sit and testing their release, which they did great on. That is, AFTER I reminded them both for 5-10 minutes on what “SIT” meant. (Which is not spin wildly in circles, put your back feet on the bed, nose punch me, etc.) Ugh. However, I do have to say if this course clearly exposes my shortcomings as a trainer and I can figure out how to bridge the gaps then it will absolutely be worth the cost.
One beef I do have already (unfortunately), is that I didnt read the fine print when signing up. I was under the impression that the Regular Rate included the running contacts part. Found out after I forked over the $$$ that thats not the case. That pissed me off—my fault yes, but c’mon. $1000 to learn running contacts? Grrrrr.
Again, we’ll see, but I already think that if I stick with it and do all the exercises and record the results that it is going to be good. I do need some direction and motivation right now, with both dogs.
In overdue news, we had the Stacy Peardot-Goudy seminar a few weeks back. I really, really enjoyed it. She was the most positive and motivating trainer I’ve worked with so far. She makes everyone feel good while also providing good feedback. There were a ton of “awesome!”s and laughing and just a generally happy atmosphere. I do have to say that I probably walked away from the Daisy Peel seminar with a more clean-cut understanding of specific things I needed to work on, though my ego was also correspondingly bruised. But Stacy was just plain fun and I’d definitely work with her again given the chance.
I also have been pretty good about practicing out and about lately. We went to Mary’s field again last weekend–doesnt get much better than your own private agility field to do with what you wish (and all I have to pay in return is a good bottle of wine, usually in which I partake!). And, we’ve been having club practice fairly regularly as well, and I dont think Ive missed more than one of those this year. And, I may do a day-of entry at an ASCA trial down this way next weekend as well just to get him that much more outside time.
Between all of that and the work demo we had a few weeks back I feel pretty good about Phin entering his first trial in June–USDAA down here in San Diego. That will be our only trial for the summer as the marketing geniuses at Say Yes has consumed all agility related funds for the next few months.
The Beast is doing great, still. My main hope at this point is that I can continue to train competently enough to keep his natural talent moving in the right direction. He is so good, and such a trier and really a workaholic. I lucked out so, so hugely with him. I cant wait to really get trialing with him, but I am very, very much still enjoying the journey. 🙂