Monday, August 09, 2010

Exciting weekend, now can someone pour me into bed?

We attended the Trudy Viklund herding clinic this weekend and I have to say I am so excited about everything we learned! She is an American trainer and trialler who works Aussie Shepherds in AKC, ASCA, CKC and even 3 sheep trials successfully.

I was just auditing, as I'm just not feeling well with this whole gallbladder/godknows thing (waiting on an endoscopy to confirm, joys) going on and had to really argue with myself not to just huddle under the covers. I didn't think I'd be up to a whole weekend of physical activity. That proved to be a sound if disappointing choice as I was drained after both days even though I'd not been actually working a dog and then woke up feeling supremely lousy this morning with a painful ear, fever etc so I've hauled my carcass off to the doctors. (Huzzah for antibiotics!)

But the weekend was exciting enough that I'm going to attempt a private lesson Tuesday, quite possibly drugged to the gills. I'm hoping to mainly focus on Hope but also get Rin underway and get some specific pointers for her style of working! The techniques are very common sense, many use positioning and a fair bit of environmental management in the training phase geared to minimize the possibility the dog can make a wrong choice till the dog learns it's job and responsibilities, building up pressure tolerance towards taking the sheeps point of eye on balance, while others involve very mild amount of -R (dogs are still remaining quite opperant) for dogs who are quite persistent in slicing in on flanks.

While not a herding instructor, I want to look up some of Alexandra Kurland's stuff as I remember skimming around and reading how she has put quite a bit of work into nutting out a program that combines -R and +R when she uses negative reinforcement. My understanding (which is admittedly very loose and rusty) was that she doesn't use it in isolation (iow simple p/r) where the release is the only reinforcer but follows it up with a positive reinforcer. IOW p/r(-R) and (+R) which I think could apply to the herding situation quite well as access back to the sheep is a huge R+ for most working dogs, especially if it's side on vs head on on the point of pressure.

I'm hoping it will mean Hopie and I have the kind of Started title I want to get and am genuinely happy with rather than one that is gained on passes that are passable but sloppy or ugly. :)

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