Monday, May 24, 2010

Under the Microscope!

One thing about participating in a Seminar is that you are “totally under the Microscope”! For me, that’s a good thing. Maybe I should clarify; that it’s a good thing as long as the seminar ‘giver’ isn’t afraid to tell you what you need to work on.

I prefer to audit seminars vs. participate, as I find I can concentrate more and don’t have a dog to worry about. I debated on this one, and I’m really glad I participated. Jen gave me a lot of ‘homework’ and ideas that will help Seeker develop into a better athlete. She did this in a very nice way and pointed out not only what wasn’t going well, but also, how to fix it. As far as his handler goes, I’m NOT good at throwing low! There’s a reason I continually hit the tennis ball OVER the fence!

One of the things I need to be sure to do is reward Seeker LOW! He’s a very bouncy dog and likes to keep his head up, watching me. This is unfortunately a very bad trait for an agility dog. If he’s jumping with his head up, he is not able to turn as tightly and thus adding yardage to his run. He’ll also land harder, thus it’s hard on his body. If his head is up, he is not looking at the end of the contact and has a harder time driving into that position.

For Seeker, all those fun high hand touches need to be LOW! For him, that would be at his head level or below, at least in the context of agility. Same with our tug games, instead of jumping up to drive the toy into my hands, I need him to focus on driving it into my knees. Now that will be fun!!!

It was amazing how much better everyone else was about throwing low after my turn was over. I guess that’s one of the bad things about being first. I will point out that my throwing wasn’t as bad as Ann’s! She can only throw treats from behind her back!! Thanks for pointing that out to everyone Jen! I appreciate it!

One really BAD thing about seminars is that you see so many cool things you think you just MUST HAVE!!! I know I tend to live ‘under a rock’, so when I saw the way cool “Ready Treat” device, I wanted one!!! It’s a little box that has a chamber to hold a treat and a small door that can be opened (by a remote) to allow access to the dog. WOW! Wouldn’t that be fun!! It was a fun idea until I found out it was $50, and I know it would end up in the bottom of one of my dog drawers before long. RATS!!

One of Jen’s pet peeves is the use of margarine lids (or any other colored lid) for targets. Her ‘beef’ being that the dog’s looking for the plastic lid, not forward on its own. Of course we all know that! She was pretty funny about it however. When she asked if you ever used targets, she would help you with the answer by holding up one of her clear targets and saying, “You use clear ones like this, right?” Of course, she also owns the above “Ready Treat” and she admits, it’s not any better than the colored lid. You still need to fad it from the picture.

Those of you that make fun of me using mini marshmallow for dog treats, I’ll have you know that Jen thought that was a BRILLIANT idea for dirt, turf and grass. She was throwing marshmallows like a maniac! She was actually an impressive thrower. She could take 3 minis in her hand and toss them one at a time (LOW), to almost the exact spot each time. Oh to have such skill!!

I’m still not sure if I’ll do a running A-frame. I’ll work on some of the skills needed prior to ‘Breaking The A-Frame’. (Breaking the A-Frame involves teaching your dog it no longer has to do 2 on/off.) The skills needed for a running A-Frame will also help Seeker’s overall agility performance, so it’s beneficial to work them.

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