Sunday, January 22, 2012

On the Road Again...

     Yesterday, I attended another Denise Fenzi workshop with Mickey. My ups and downs of health, and trying to keep up with life have been a major factor of me not keeping on track. Of course I'm always highly critical of myself, that if I just would have practice and not use health issues as an excuse, Mickey and I would have been so much further along. Being under the weather shouldn't interfere with my training. If you can sit up, you can train. Denise joked that while I had Vertigo, lie there and train your dog. However, I could barely stand up long enough to feed the dogs, hardly fed myself. Not sure if I could have thought of what to train with my mind set. But, how do I get around this? This is what I have to figure out. Not let the barriers laugh at me and get the best of me, but figure a way out around the situation. That's what life is all about right? No one cares that you have one hurdle to get over, or even 50 more than the average person. They only see your result. That's what really counts. Did you get there? Rewarding for effort just leaves you there, just trying, not succeeding. Chewing myself out for not getting there doesn't help either. However, setting a plan and sticking to it, making a plan what to do if I'm sick, what to do if I'm dizzy, what to do if.....? I can always revert back to Debi Davis' "Training in the Loo" idea. In other words, made good use of my time.

     What right is happening? I am doing some tidbits of training with Mickey, just enough to show everyone there is some improvement in us. Mickey is coming along nicely. He did some of his best heeling I've seen yesterday in this workshop. His eye contact with me held longer, which even overwhelmed me. The length we locked eyes together was a realization this boy really wants to put his heart out for me. I got the dog, now where is my part in the deal? Let's keep our locked eyes love affair going!

     So what other barrier I can whine about? I need to overcome my fear of doing activities or performances in front of people. I realize I'm not the only one who has this as a challenge. I thought being a park ranger, where I am giving presentations to an average of 40 people up to 100+ visitors, would cure me. Nope. Life is managed, not cured. We can psychoanalyze, but in the mean time, I want to get where I'm going. So, focus forward to my goal. It is all about shaping behavior right? Each new environment is like starting all over again. For example, my first try giving a park ranger presentation in class, I was nervous. As I stood frozen as everyone watched me, I had the feeling of a waterfall pouring down my back as I stood frozen. I eventually was shaped, practice and worked doing better presentations to where I was fairly decent. I got over my fear of speaking in public, I certainly learned from that experience, and need to take the steps I took then, and apply it to this setting of performing with my dog. I have to remind myself "GET OVER YOURSELF!!!!" OK? Enough whining? Enough fretting on stuff that just doesn't get you ANYWHERE? OK? Over yourself now? GOOD! Now let's get to work.

     Some subjects covered in the workshop:

     Frozen Deer in Headlights - As I walked around the field in front of Denise, it was obvious I was focusing so hard on what to do, that I was stiff, unnatural and not being able to focus on all aspects of what I was doing. Mickey was doing his best to heel with me. What a good dog and a good sport he is! This is when Denise knew the Metronome needed to be brought out.

      Metronome - I need to keep an even pace. Denise put her metronome at 120 and had me walk around the field. Everyone noticed a big difference in my walking. Prior I was heeling with Mickey and falling all over my feet, wobbling and trying to figure where I was located. With the Metronome, it keeps me focused and moving forward. It is more assertive, shows more assurance and keeps me on pace with my dog. Gives my dog better signals and allows for me to demonstrate better leadership.

        Feet Work - what my feet are doing, also communicates to my dog what we are doing. When making about turns, keep feet together, it helps slow the dog and helps them know what direction then need to turn or keep with your body. Keep that straight line while turning. Keep legs together when making left or right turns. I tended to go wide.

         Drifting out on right turns around figure eight - Turn left when Mickey drifts, this brings him right in. Sometimes throughout the figure eight, do left turns to make this interesting so it doesn't become to automatic. They will pay more attention to you this way.

         When Judge asks "Ready?" - This is not a statement, but a question. They really are asking if you are ready to start the exercise. Most important, make sure your dog's attention is on you before you say "yes" to the judge. If not, say not yet or wait a minute, get your dog set up and say, OK, I'm ready. Don't wait for the judge to ask again. Be respectful of everyone's time, get your dog focus immediately.

          As I was going through my run with Mickey and listening to Denise instructing others, I reflected on Bob Bailey's "Think, Plan, Do!" That one of my major problems is putting a training program together. Think about what I am doing, plan what I am going to do, and do it. I have the tools to succeed and have the knowledge to succeed, I need to organize myself in putting it all together and putting it into action. Organizing my time, spend less time on the computer or goofing off. I joke that I need to buy myself a computer tablet to keep me on track to tell me what to do.Hey, and I can even put a metronome on a tablet computer too. Since I goof off on a computer too much, maybe if I used a computer to keep me on track with training.

          In college I use to print out my plan charts with carefully blocked off times in what I should do. Since I have gotten away from that schedule, I have drifted off into a free spirit of going with the wind. What ever happens, happens. How can I get anything done with that type of approach to succeeding with training two dogs in precision obedience? As I always remind myself, life is managed, not cured. It is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, you start at one end, when you finish painting the whole bridge, it is time to start over, maintenance and progression on a project is something always in motion. Regardless of what I use, an old fashion hand written date book or a fancy tablet computer, the bottom line is I need to Think, Plan and Do.

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