CU #2

Last night was our second Control Unleashed class. It was good. We are definitely not following the book exactly, but thats okay. I think its probably best to be doing both simultaneously regardless. We worked on more focus work, reorienting, and just barely started mat work.

One thing we did that was pretty eye opening was a shaping exercise. We partnered up, one person was the trainer and one was the dog. The “trainer” worked on shaping a behavior on the “dog”.  Man, that was tough. At least the more advanced ones were. It was great to understand what the dog was thinking—as in “what the eff does she want me to do???”—and also measure how accurate your timing and communication is. I was told to shape my partner to take off her earring… needless to say we didnt get all the way there. Regardless though, probably an exercise I would want to do again, as silly as we all looked jumping around and waving our arms like a bunch of looney dog ladies.

So, practice on focus and orienting and mat work this week.

I have my “safety test” this Saturday for the local agility club. Its looking to rain again, so we’ll see what happens. I hope it goes off, I would like to get in some practice as we missed this week of class. Also printed out my first Trial registration form. It looks like greek to me, will probably fill out as much as I can and take to my trainer on Monday to have her help me decode the rest. Early April is looking to be our first “official” trial. Counting down…


CU #1 — Which Kind of Crazy Dog Lady are You?

So last night was our first CU class. I unfortunately have to take one of the shittiest freeways to get there at rush hour, so it took me over an hour to go 25 miles. Sweet. Luckily I was not the only one who was late and next time, well, we’ll leave at 5 to make it there by 6:30. Good times, living in So Cal.

There were only a few people in the class. Us, a women with a Jack Russell, and a woman with a BC. Hopefully it stays that small, would be nice. The woman with the JR amazed me. Her dog seemed well-behaved enough, just “talky”. She went on and on about how he likes this and he does that and she already has her Novice Obedience and Rally titles, blah blah blah. And yet, once we go into things, she didnt know what the instructor meant by “raising the rate or reinforcement.” Sigh. She also didnt seem to understand that by scratching her dog every time he growled at her (in a talky way, not a mean way) she was handing over the reins to who was running the show.

How you could get that far along in training and not have a clue as to how a dogs mind operates–in the most basic sense–is beyond me. Or maybe some people just go through the motions and get “close enough” and never look at the how or the why. Obsessively reading all of these blogs every day makes me think the R+ theory is incredibly common in dog sports, but maybe not?

Anyway, last night was pretty basic stuff, but learned some tweaks and new ways of looking at things. The biggest thing for us at this point is going to be reorienting. We make them wait to get out of the car or go out the gate, but once they’re released, they just blast off into the universe never to be heard from again. Not good. Training them to orient (ie. turn back to me to “check in”) coming out of the crate, and ESPECIALLY out of the front gate or the car is going to be huge. The hardest part will be getting Pete to carry the treats on him at all times. Maybe I can stash them all around at all of those points so he has no excuse not to do it.

Another fairly large realization I have been coming to over the past few months (peripherally related to the dogs) is my change in “life focus” I guess you could say. It really hit me hard last night as I was packing for a trip which I am leaving on today. This is a trek I have made annually for many, many years. I look forward to it every year firstly as I get to see many of my favorite people on this earth, as well as get to live it up and ride snow and talk about riding snow and look at pretty new things made to ride snow and wear while doing so.

I really, am not that into it this year. It will be fun, I have no doubt, and yet I just am not that amped about it. I am more bummed that it will be taking a huge hunk out of my training schedule and that when I go back to CU class we’ll only have been able to cram in a few sessions.

I dont know if its my age, or the economy, or being beat down by the industry that I love (same for Pete, we’ve both had a rough last few years work-wise), or what. Many of my favorite friends are all in the same boat as me. Maybe we’re all just growing up and caring more about inner circle things than who is on what team and how they got arrested at Brand X’s raging party? I dunno.

I will always and forever love riding good snow with my friends. Being outside in the snow in the middle of no where and hearing nothing but the sound of your board across the snow and maybe whoops by your freinds off in the distance is one of the greatest feelings I ever hope to experience. And I will again, undoubtedly. But I also have loved–since the very day I was born–horses and dogs and most things four-legged with a passion.

Maybe this is just the new phase.