Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Herding lesson :)

They went fairly well and got some good advice. (I could so have done without having to do it with an ear infection, wingey 16 month old and sniffly videographer-who-didn't-video however!)

The things that had been concerning me with Hope's work is that she can do a nice job but also can be a bit sloppy in coming on too fast, can buzz in if she's frustrated with me, tends to rely on me giving direction with the staff where I want to get her doing it more automatically. My main frustration in working with her though is that she is so sensitive to pressure that little things feel big to her, so I tend to find working with that difficult because I'm used to average to slightly bull-headed dogs.

At any rate she had us go out and give an example of where we were at the moment and then gave some suggestions and exercises to try. The main positives she picked to mention were Hope's had the basic stuff pretty well, found/maintained point of balance and covered them fairly nicely, was willing to work out a fair bit at times (20 feet or so), listened to me ask her to walk up, steady her speed and such. When I used the suggestions of how to modify my movements for her she responded well to that also and was working smoother.

The bits we need to work on:
* long term softening the pressure picture for Hope because she is such a sensitive girl
* Too remember not to ask for too much, too soon on too high of criteria. Bad handler has been lumping stuff together in great fat gobs instead of splitting. Need to separate shape, then directions, then tricky situations, all in gradually increasing difficulty.

This was highlighted when we came to a point where the sheep were in a corner of the fence she was a bit unsure and I had to get in quite close to the sheep and encourage to get her to come in and lift them off. It felt like my timing was too slow as well in when I moved back to open space for them to move in, in response to her turning to engage.

Likewise when she got frustrated with a poorly given signal at one point she cut in on flanks. It's not something she knows, so it's not fair asking quite so much at this juncture.

The other real useful bit was to do with pressure pictures (from the dogs pov) and when to give slack. She was giving a nice shape and started to go bye when I'd wanted her to go away, so I blocked and then when she didn't respond followed it up. That was enough to hurt Hope's feelings. So Trudy figured that because she's so soft, I need to maybe give her more time to think about things and take her own initiative to correct rather than take it as a refusal (this is absolutely correct...) instead of being so quick to follow up. (Also spot on, bad me!) She figured the block alone would have been enough and the tap was too strong (yep) for how soft she is, albeit it'd have been not much for the average dog. (In fact far stronger barely merited a "huh? you were talking to me?" from Rin later on. LOL) But moreover, at this point, I created a problem that I didn't have to by insisting she go the way I wanted, especially given she doesn't know directional flanking commands, and I would have probably done better by letting her go in the direction she'd already started toward and then caught her next time for a turn before she committed to a choice. Instead I wasted a lot of time trying to tell her sorry for hurting her feelings and getting her back on board. That would also go to the 'one criteria worked on/taught at a time' thing. I also reckon the directional flanking commands when I teach them because they involve the -R pressure of the staff, would be good for Hope as an individual to be taught with the combo of -R/+R on dry runs like a giant reverse target wand.

Another thing with Hope was the staff I had was a dressage crop thingie with a small bit of contrasting coloured plastic that flared on the end. She'd asked how Hope would go with it and I said I wasn't sure as she is sensitive and we've only used a plain rod (best response) or old rake (too strong of a visual). We talked about it after and came to the conclusion I'm probably better off with the dressage staff minus the plastic bit as it makes too 'big' a picture, so it will be less visually pressure. Likewise if when I use it to block, I stepping back a bit and maybe turn my shoulder a bit off center that may make it easier for her.

Also trying to work where she can hear Lily (who grizzled at one point) is a pain as she wants to go check on her. X_x

Now for RIN... gee she's a little firecracker! It's looking like she will be the kind of dog I really enjoy working with, in this as in everything else. She is just plain FUN and full on! She was absolutely frantic to get to work the sheepies and seemed to be thinking, "Oh my gosh, where has this BEEN all my life?!?!?!?" The working switch is definitely flipped firmly to the 'on' position!

The main thing Trudy felt for Rin would be to insist that she only gets to keep working when she is not being all frantic about it and is using self control and moderating herself. Franti should not be a behaviour that works for her! Absolutely correct. We only had Rin in there for about 10 mins but she did get her to the point of starting to understand she needed to use some self control and moderation in pace and once she did, Rin was doing a super nice job, especially for only being young and only having come here 2 weeks ago. My manic little monkey-doo has loads of zip, no quit, good bounce back and handles pressure nicely! (And um have we mentioned she LOVES it??? Because wow-o-wow, does she love it!!!!!!!!!!!)

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