Over the weekend I attended a 3 day seminar given by Denise Fenzi. There is so much about this seminar that I am still trying to process that I am having a tough time putting it into words. Other than AMAZING!
The seminar Saturday and Sunday was about building drive and motivation for obedience and Monday was for problem solving for obedience. I was lucky enough to snag a working spot in both seminars.
Grace and I worked together on Saturday and Sunday. I was hoping to be able to find ways to communicate better with her and also to build in some play with her. Although we have tried novice a few times usually it has been just an effort to see where we are in our training. I know that we have heeling issues and I was hoping to maybe work a bit on that. First the play- I was successfully able to get Grace to play with me both Saturday with a toy and Sunday without. It’s not the vigorous play of many dogs, but she was responding. For the first time ever she showed some interest in a tug type toy, chasing it and even tugging mildly. She also responded really well to some gentle pushing and physical play during a heeling session.
During our one on one sessions with Denise, not surprisingly she saw the same bad behavior on my part in watching my dog and not looking forward. But she also noticed that even though I still do that, I also do catch myself and am trying to change the pattern. She liked the way Grace performs when she is paying attention, but she noticed that her periods of attention are short, so we need to work on building those. Oh and her sits were gone again, so we will be paying with those too. They come, they go…..
Monday I worked with Magic. Each team had the opportunity to work with Denise twice while the other teams looked on. In our first session we spent most of the time talking about teaching a go out as I need to do that. We didn’t do it, but I got fabulous directions on how she does it and I feel confident enough that we can start on our own. I did ask for some assistance with our retrieves. Since Magic loves to retrieve, in general our retrieve is nice. But his enthusiasm is also occasionally an issue as he does a few things that are not the best. Magic will munch on the dumbbell, or occasionally he will pick it up by the bell. So I got a few suggestions for both of those issues and we will work on it.
In our second session we worked on our heeling. Honestly Magic’s heeling was really nice for the first few minutes, then suddenly, he realized that there was a quiet room, everyone was watching and the normal lagging began. Denise was able to point out where that happened. She worked me through a few exercises with him and within just a few minutes he was back up and heeling much better. And I did much better too in not looking back at him which also helps! We will never be competing for high in trial, but I am hoping by incorporating some of this we will at least be successful. For the first time I realized that yes I DO want a UD on this dog and I AM going to make the effort and try.
One of the things Denise did convey well that hit home with me is that many dogs equate silence with being wrong and that we need to change that perspective. And I find that to be very true with my dogs. So I am trying to change how I do reward the dogs and what I say as well as when I say it. The other thing I need to incorporate more in my training is verbal rewards for effort on the dogs part, when the dog has tried but failed. The actual reward, whether food or play comes with success, but a good try, let’s do it again instead of a true no reward marker such as oops or wrong.
There is more, much more and I hope to be able to talk about it as I use it in the future. It was incredible seeing her work with each team and so many different issues. She was quick to point out why similar issues from dog to dog, need to be handled differently due to the dogs motivation and style. If it is at all possible I would love to do another seminar in the future with her as she was honestly the best presenter I have seen. If you have the chance to see her go for it! I know I will.