Sunday, November 19, 2006

Going to be a longish post guys, getcher selves a cuppa... first is non-dog stuff, so dog folks feel free to skip down. Second is dog stuff, non-dog folks feel free to skip that! :-D

As per the last post we missed out on the Birdwood house. Majorly bummed about that. Went to Jayne's that afternoon for a psychic reading and drink tasting party. Sounds like an odd combo but made for a rather nice break.

I had quite a long reading and a lot of it was about Nic and really confirming what I already knew and had been saying and most of you have probably heard about that stuff before so I won't bore you! ;-)

I will say it was absolutely spot on and at times she was using exact words and phrases I've spoken to Nic. So that was the main bit but there were a few other interesting things that came up. Laurent and I apparently were best friends in our past life and that will follow us through in this one as well. He is going to be a real ladies man and charmer. (Did anyone whose seen him flirting shamelessly with every passing stranger not know that?) She apparently saw him in a white shirt, maybe in IT type job. She did say that while one of my fears is that our money will run out, I am protected and will never be without resources. I am apparently going to have 3 children - another boy and then a girl. My paternal grandfather came through and was acting as an extra bit of strength for me. Nic's maternal grandmother came through, complete with the stroke paralysis, to say she loved Laurent and was watching over him. (I said Nic would not be amused by that... he didn't like her to put it very mildly...) His mother came through as well and appologized for doing him a disservice by mollycoddling him as a child, say Laurent was the apple of her eye and that she liked me as well. Interesting since that's always been a concern of mine, with us both being very strong minded (and mouthed... *cough*) women. I'd always figured we'd either get along famously or be at absolute loggerheads. She also said that I very much felt the shadow of Nic's mum hanging over me and apparently his mum asked (through her) why I was fighting so hard against her. I replied that I didn't want to be in her position or follow the patterns that had been set up in that relationship. That was their relationship, this was ours, two different things and I don't want to play the role she did to him. She said there were a LOT of wish cards in my reading, lots of things I wanted coming true, lots of spiritual backing in my corner from the sounds of it but the bug-a-boo was that there was the Tower card which definitely had to do with Nic. So the long and short was I have pretty much everything I wanted in life or am on my way to getting it but there is a big gaping bunch of hurt emotionally which was sort of compared to feeling very battered.

So that brings us to today. We woke up late and had to dash to Croyden. Had the hardest time trying to find my instructor on the field! Our instructor was standing in for the normal Basic 2 teacher and had us fall straight in line and begin drilling. Egh. Sierra needed to settle in so I did a little focus work.

I'm not sure how today went. I was put off by a few of the techniques used. Not that they were unduley harsh but dogs were being lured or failing that induced to down and restrained to keep them down. One Staffie was on it's back and looked on the verge of shutting down because it simply didn't understand what was being asked of it. Cues were being given when the dogs hadn't even learned the behaviour. "STAND!" Well you started 1 minute ago. The dog has NO idea what stand means anymore than if I started giving you orders in French or Sign. It hasn't been taught, the dog doesn't know it and it's not fair to expect them to. If you worked on it a couple of weeks, got the behaviour fully fluent and then attached a cue which you reinforced, betchya you'd get better results.

Okay... so not how I'd do things, not how I'd teach things... but it's not my class, these are not my students, it's not my place. She said something about how you didn't want to "pussy-handle" a Staffy, have to know your breeds, you could pussyhandle a little fluffy dog but a Staffie would walk all over you. Yeeahhhh, you do need to understand breed traits and some breeds in general have different traits but regardless good leadership is based on respect and understanding. There are lots of ways to cement the idea in a dogs head that the way to get what IT wants is to do what YOU want which don't involve stressing the dog. :-/

Upside, we DID get some nice critiques... ie keep your dog straight, mind your hands, watch how when you use that motion you're pulling her forward and that will detract from your later work... that sort of stuff. YAY! That's what I want! I figure we do basically what we can at class and just teach it at home, fine by me as that's my prefered way to work. Gimme my homework, tell me how I've come along and let me go work on it. I think I frusterated the teacher because I didn't understand what she wanted me to do and couldn't easily hear her from a couple meters away facing away from in a biiiggg field!

The trouble for us came when the instructor had us sit the dogs in front of us. Easy peasie, Sierra did a nice job, click and treat.... Sierra stood to get the treat. "Don't treat her! She's out of place and she's broke the sit before you commanded her to do something else!" I figure she probably didn't see I'm using a clicker and it's an i-Click so it's quiet. I said she hasn't broke the behaviour at all because she was clicked. The behaviour was marked, the behaviour ends with the click and so she was effectively released to get her reward. I don't disagree with treating in position and am happy to do that (generally do except in free-shaping) but I don't click and not treat. If I'd wanted to use a "you're doing good, keep going signal" (I generally don't - I prefer to build up slowly to the point the dog doesn't need reassurance because it's confident this is how it's done) I'd simply reward without clicking and then when I was satisfied, click and treat. I'm told, no, no, have her do it again and then click and treat her. Eep. No... she's already been clicked. I'm happy to do it again but after she's been rewarded for this click. Instructor says Ah... you do things that way. (Uh oh.) Who trained you? We do things the Mary Ray way in this club. (IE click multiple times, treat sometimes, the idea being that the click is used as a 'go on' signal which contradicts current long-standing scientific data and which is NOT the Mary Ray way at ALL!) Eep. First day and having to contradict instructor twice. Okay, okay, being polite, being respectful, being veerrrrryyy mindful not to appear to be 'sassing' the teacher in front of her class which is disrespectful but at the same time I'm my dogs advocate. So am trying to project that into my voice while saying that no, this is how I do things with my dog. I always reward after every click. My training is from Janet White, along with techniques based on the Bailey's and the studies of Karen Pryor, Kay Lawrence, Steve White, Ken Ramirez, Emma Parsons, Kathy Sdao, Jesus Rosales, Kellie Snider, Morgan Spector, Steven Lindsay, blah blah blah..." Sooo not wanting to step on toes but my dog is mine and I don't let anyone do anything with them I'm not totally comfortable with. Likewise, I don't have to do something the way someone wants simply because they want me to, especially when it flies in the face of what I know to be true and have experienced with my dogs. No disrespect but I've seen too much evidence that clicking and not treating is counterproductive and as far as I'm aware she has no formal education in the field or any related field. (IE Precision training etc.) There are plenty of things I simply won't do to my dogs but I'm not here to disrupt, to contradict you in front of your students, to be disrespectful, be preachy, push my methods on you or otherwise cause trouble. I am here to learn, like everyone else, though perhaps different things than others at my level of progress. I'm hoping once that gets across everyone will be more comfortable when I do things somewhat differently.

At any rate, we got through class with some nice critiques and some nice praise as well. She asked me into the clubhouse after and basically asked who had assessed me (no one...) and started talking about a 'blue ribbon' (pass certificate?) you need and if I want I can do a Basic 2 Assessment next weekish or opt to continue in this class. Hm. So... I pass that and then what? Go on to the next level????? I look at the list and it's not horribly difficult but I'm not just gunning to get to the next level. The whole point for a basic class was so that I was working with skills she KNEW fluently enough we could do them with the class while working on being relaxed and focused in high distraction settings since Sierra tends to still be a bit wired in those settings - her focus and her latentcy turn to a pigs breakfast. I distinctly didn't want a bunch of new skills to be mucking around training while trying to focus on that! Sooo.... not sure what to do. She also said something to the effect (her back was turned, my hearing is crap) that I probably wouldn't want to/be suited to the instructor training program because I wanted to do things my way. About that time she mentioned she's the Head Instructor. Oh. Ohhhhh... Joy. Two sessions in and I've already been switched twice and the probably cheesed off the Head Instructor. Not that I'd have said anything else if I'd have known... but wow... this is just doing wonders for my batting average. o_O

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