I had to take a couple of days to process all the information from the seminar Sunday. First of all I really wish I had been able to do Saturday as well. Sunday was about getting a better performance, but primarily about attention and attitude.
The first thing we worked on was attention-which I admit, although Magic is fairly attentive, he does tend to lose focus so learning how to work toward keeping that attention was great. the first exercise we worked on was stationary focus. I have always known that Magic can stare me in the face for quite some time as long, but what I realized is that although he is comfortable with this when I am sitting, he is not quite as focused when I am standing. Its not bad, but it can be better. But, he really has a difficult time while in motion. All I was asking him for was a moving front, and he could not maintain that focus well. Well- that also shows in his distance work, so we are working on this.
The next session of work was relating to clicker training, and we worked on a trick with a prop of your choosing. What the goal here was though is to not lure, or if you lure initially to break the lure very quickly. Like within 3 attempts or so.. This was a bit harder and I realized that Magic is much less confident in his ability to think out the problem than I realized. I think I have been too much of a helper. I am working on that, but its going to be hard because I catch myself all the time. Maybe I need to train with my mouth taped shut and my hands belted to my sides or something so I cant "help" hims so much.
The last session was really, really thought provoking for me. This was about training attitude that can carry over to the performance. The exercise we did was something no other trainer had ever suggested to me before, or if they have I missed it completely. (that wouldn't really surprise me!) She explained that although her dogs are well trained and beyond the learning, she continues to reward very heavily. In her video, working working with her awesomely trained performance dogs, she was still rewarding variably, but frequent. Like 2-6 steps of heeling. She said she rarely works an entire performance as one piece. Parts but not so much of the whole. The exercise we did was practicing (for me developing) a ring entrance procedure. A consistent series of expectations right up to the judge starting the heeling pattern but then breaking it off at a single step into the pattern with a huge party.
The ring was set up just like a small obedience ring. Interestingly, even though we had been at the facility and had worked in a larger gated area all day, when Magic saw the new set up, and we walked up to to the entrance and heeled in and there was a judge, he seemed to think it might be a real trial. His tail went down, he listened and did what I asked -heel in, sit, take off leash, heel to the start line, his attitude was much less happy than it had been just an hour before. We chatted with the judge, but he seemed less interested in me. When the judge asked us if we were ready, I asked him if he was ready, and he did begin to pay a bit more attention (ready is our attention word), but it was subdued. The first step of heel and he lagged as normal, but I still broke it off and we partied a minute or so and left the ring. We immediately performed the whole series again, and the change was amazing. Both his head and tail came up and there was no lag off the start. The third time the pooper actually forged a tiny bit, which is SO not Magic. While I am sure after the first time, he realized this was not the real thing, I can see how training this with consistent expectations would help him have a better start- and maybe an entire performance. Granted it is going to take some work, and we will have to try to take in some matches, but I am hoping the combination of things will help our overall performances.
Now I understand that there was some training using raised platforms for learning positions on Saturday. I am hoping that I can get someone from Saturday to give me a quick lesson, because I certainly can use any help in training I can get.
All in all I really enjoyed the seminar. And watching the heelwork videos was simply inspiring. Beautiful.