Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scott Glen Clinic

I have a ton of stuff to catch-up on so today I will post about the Scott Glen clinic. About mid October, I went to a Scott Glen clinic for one day. I couldn’t make the second day as I had tons on my plate and need to do chores at home. I audited the clinic and it was refreshing to see that some of the students who were in the last clinic, had improved, as well as their dogs. I remember many years ago, sitting under the tent with Tess and nervous. I still get nervous but at least it is with a different dog.

I brought Rainey and Roo and left Tess and Nan at home soundly sleeping on the bed. Janet drove and we took Scotty. Monique was there and had Lucy, Nancy and Courtney had Jack, Logan, Blaze and Meg. I wanted Rainey to get more exposure to people and lots of activities. Sometimes, she gets a little skittish but this time, she was a social butterfly and when she figured out that she was not going to get the sheep, she fell fast asleep under my chair.

Scott’s clinic, as always, was very informative and reminded me that we all have holes in our training. We fix those holes and more holes appear and you fix them, seeming like an never-ending process but you get better as a trainer during this process. It’s nice to hear that you are doing good but you need to hear what holes you need to fix and how to fix them. How the message is delivered to you is key. Scott delivers the message in a clear, concise format without making you feel like an idiot. He also delivers that message to the dog and shows you how to do it.

After all, clear communication is key. Every try to understand someone giving you directions?

1. “Go down this road and take a right on 35th ave or street, I can’t remember, uhhhhhhh, then go left on Oak but take the first left and not the far left and go down for a bit and uhhhh, then you pass a bunch of lights, go past the houses, uhhhhh, but there are a bunch of houses but go past those houses and take a right after those houses, uhhhhhh, there is a stoplight somewhere that either 50th or 55th?”


How about these directions?

2. Go down 2 miles, take a right at Wendy’s which is on 35th AVE, go down 5 miles to Oak. There is a Target at the corner of Oak and take the first left. Go 10 miles until you see the Housing complex called “Willow Estates.” Go past “Willow Estates” and take a right at the first stoplight. The Street is 50th.”

Most of us give the first set of direction to the dogs. We need to give the second set. We mean well but our delivery may not convey that to the dogs. The dogs can’t stop us and say “Your directions suck.”

They often react by trying to do what they think you want them to do or do what they think is right. Often at that point, we scold our dogs, as they did not do what we unclearly told them. They get confused and we scold them more.

We need to scold ourselves.

We need to be clear in our directions to our dogs. If they do make a mistake, we need to tell them what to do right and tell them when they are wrong at that time. Not 5 seconds later as the opportunity for the correction and fix had long passed. They don’t understand they are getting scolded for that nip when you scold them five seconds later, they will associate that scold with the down they are doing at the time of the scold. Timing is essential and if you do not get that scold at the right time, sometimes it’s better just to not say anything at all. Just bit your tongue and be ready next time.

With Roo, he sometimes will slice at the top so I have to make sure I get it at the right time. I see the slightest hint of his shoulder dropping and that is when I need to tell him to flank out wider. If I am too slow, he has committed to slice and whatever I tell him is for naught. I worked him in the big field at lunchtime, and he began to slice and I stopped him, reflanked him and he cast out well. We did several more outruns and he did well. He listened on the fetch and did a nice steady pace on the drive. We are finally getting in tune with each other. I hope we will do well at the trials, as he is a very nice dog.

I worked Rainey at lunchtime and she was very keen. She had a lot of eye and it would hold her up sometimes on her outrun. We did outruns and I keep her free going and she finally cast out nice. She did a bit of driving and had to push hard to get the dog broke sheep off me. She has no problem with her confidence and thinks she is the Queen Bee. She is a lot like her mother, Tess in that aspect. I made sure that Tess would win in any situation and in her mind; Tess thinks she can do it. It helps a lot with a dog if they think they can do it and have their handler back them up or help them.

I watched a lot of dogs work, Aussies, a Kelpie and Border Collies. Each one brought an issue to the table and by the end of the session that issue had been worked on with success. Now each of the students needs to take the learning experience home with them and apply it.

There were loosed eye dogs and strong eyes dogs, dogs of different breeds. Each one was worked as to it abilities. Some people say that a Border Collie trainer cannot train an Aussie because an Aussie is different. That is just an excuse in my mind. I saw an Aussie at the clinic that was being trained by a Border Collie trainer (Scott) and he didn’t treat it any differently. There is not a method for a Kelpie, another method for a Aussie and a third method for a Border Collie. You train the dog as well as the handler. One Aussie was doing 200 yard outruns and they were a sight to behold. Nice, wide and deep behind the sheep with a quiet controlled fetch. Simply beautiful.

Clinic are worth you want to get out of them. If your mind is closed, you will not get any value out of a clinic. If you are open to new ways, you will go home with a lot more tools in your toolbox to become a better trainer and most importantly of all, a better partner for your dog.

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