SUMMARY: In which Boost gets tired (!), neither of my dogs "go on" very well, and I learn more about rear crosses and other random training tidbits.
Today dawned 10 degrees warmer but with a light rain. (Amazing how important the weather becomes when you'll be spending the entire day outside with no hope for reprieve.) I was concerned, but by the time the sessions started at 8:00, the rain had stopped for the day and it was altogether warmer than Thursday. The sun even made a gallant effort at coming out late in the afternoon and I finally unzipped my fleece sweater (briefly), but the long underwear again stayed on all day.
In the morning, Wendy Pape's session was about Which Cross When, but we spent most of our time on rear crosses, which I found quite useful as she explained her "A-B-C" method of aiming your hips to guide the dog through rear crosses. I'm too tired tonight to make notes about that, and a diagram is called for, so that also will have to wait until next week probably. She also had a lot of helpful general handling suggestions and explanations. Among those, that I don't turn and run soon enough and spend too much time loitering, waiting for my dog to complete obstacles.
Well--yes--I've been working on that for years and having instructors yell "move! now!" and such at me all along. I've even gone for a couple of private lessons on exactly that issue. I just can't seem to break myself loose. But Wendy's session gave me some good ideas on what I'm doing and what I should be doing.
Next up was Mary Ellen Barry's session on Rear Crosses--which went over some of the same territory as Wendy's, but she branched out from there and had some excellent exercises. I was thrilled when Boost and I aced the first one, in part because I felt as if I was finally breaking myself away from waiting for my dog. After that, we never did completely successfully complete a sequence, although we did some bits nicely and I learned quite a bit again. In part, that I don't turn and run soon enough and spend too much time waiting for my dog.
Also a known issue that I can't push Boost in front of me; she wants to keep checking in. Did some practice things that I need to work on that in fact aren't much different from what Nancy had us doing (and reminds us periodically about), but I guess I didn't do them often enough or didn't follow through enough. (I'd be more specific about some of these things but just too tired to be truly coherent.)
At lunch, I got Tika out for a bit and tried a couple of Wendy's sequences and discovered that Tika *also* doesn't push out ahead of me very well and I got some spins from her in the same places I got undesired behaviors from Boost.
I've also been told over and over through the years to be quieter on the course--as in, say less, not say it more softly. And got called on it yesterday and today, too. So I was trying to be very quiet and discovered that both dogs are less likely to make mistakes when I'm using a lot of verbals--Tika in particular--but I know that then they're relying on my voice when they should be relying more on me running full-force through the course with good handling techniques so that they can concentrate more on running and less on whether I'm encouraging them or giving 2 or 3 commands at once.
So it was hard for me to start putting verbals *back in* today in key locations after I've been trying to take them out. I'm still not good at balancing that. So much that I've learned and relearned (or maybe never solidly learned) after 12 years of training! I'm feeling good about what I've experienced and clarified in my own mind after 2 days of camp so far, but I don't know that I know how to keep translating it into reality.
In the afternoon, Moe Strenfel gave us a session on contacts from the perspective of how to approach them and how to move away from them afterwards. More handling stuff that fit well into my goal this year of trying to be a more aggressive handler (as did everything in the morning, too). And, as with all the instructors so far, the basic training and basic groundwork and basic behavior suggestions are among the most valuable things to come out of these sessions, not just the assigned session topics.
Partway through our contact session, I noticed that Boost's contacts were a little slow, but attributed it to unfamiliarity with yet another set of equipment. Moe actually asked me whether she was getting tired, and I said, no, of course not, this is the endlessly energetic Boost! But then, when I put her back into her crate, she immediately curled up in the back, put her head down, and closed her eyes. Every time I leaned over to see what she was doing, her eyes popped open, but she didn't lift her head, and then her eyes closed again.
So, yes indeed, between the mental stretches she was going through today as well as the physical, she was wiped out. I put her back in her crate in the car and got Tika out for the rest of the session, and she was quite happy and eager to run. In fact, that's the whole reason I've been hauling Tika with me, so I'd have a backup dog for sessions. (In every camp I've been to, I've always ended up trading out my main working dog at least a couple of times.)
Meant to get someone to take a couple of photos of me at camp today, but didn't, or of our group of four from Boost's thursday morning class who are now traveling through sessions together for three days, but no. Maybe tomorrow.