Obedience seminar!

I loved, loved, loved the Denise Fenzi seminar the past 3 days.  I'm happy to say that most of the stuff I'm already doing or at least knowing that I should be doing it, but it was great to see it done on so many different dogs and watching the results. The only downside of the seminar was that I really should have worked Monday instead of Sat/Sun since it would have given us more time for our specific issues.   Most of it was about play and weaning the dog off of food and toys and onto playing with you.  Being a group of positive trainers, we all reward our dogs way too much and exasperate the difference between in the ring and out of the ring. 

Playing with me something I've worked hard on with Lance the last year with great results in practice.  I know I still use way too many treats but knowing is half the battle right?  But this is one area I've really struggled with Vito.  I've been really frustrated with him these last several months and I know it's been complicated by a combination of his still present general anxiety and the reaction to his meds.  When he's up I love training him but am still looking for a way to reward him without getting him growly/barky.  But a lot of our training sessions he's been the opposite and I have to work really hard to get him to engage with me with any sense of spirit behind it rather than just going through the motions.

I worked Vito for the first two days of the seminar.  Day 1 was great although honestly I didn't need to be working Vito.  For the most part he was up and happy to play with a toy.   Day 2 was too much for Vito. I think the stress of being crated in a different room, although still very close, was too much for him.  I moved the crate in with us the last third of the day but it was after our turn and he didn't recover too great anyway.  He really wasn't that bad but he was way more sensitive than normal and I only stressed him out more by trying to play with him in our normal way.  Too much pressure for him, plus I just couldn't stop looking at him when he was lagging and it only increased the problem.   I'm not used to him lagging!  On day 3 Vito didn't work except during the break but he was doing much better. I left the crate in the presentation room the whole day and he slept during a lot of it.  When I took him out to work he was mostly happy and engaged.  I guess now I know.  .

Here are some of the changes I need to make.  They're not the most important things I learned in the seminar, but are the biggest things I need to fix:

- Build value for the dumbbell since it is one reward you can actually take in the ring.  I actually started to treat the db more as a toy a few weeks ago but hadn't done a whole lot with it.  It shouldn't be too hard to do with Vito if I just bring it out at night when he's in a playful mood and remove the other toys as an option.  With Lance I'm going to do more of hiding the db and letting him search for it.  I started pairing the hunt with treats so he gets the game but hopefully he will transition to hunting for the love of using his nose and then that will build value for the db itself.  Vito loved that game within 2 seconds.

- Silence equals good.  I'm pretty good about being silent with my dogs and immediately "correcting" mistakes while heeling but on other exercises I'm not as good and it's likely confusing them.  Mainly when working fronts, pivots, and finishes is where I tend to screw up and revert to silence=wrong, praise/treat=good.

- Carefully watch how I'm playing with Vito so that I don't overpower him when he's feeling stressed.  I think fixing the way I play with him will really help this new "on meds" Vito.

- I also got some ideas for Vito's bumps into me on halts.  More of what I've been doing, right pivots, but actually doing them more and also not inadvertently rewarding the bumps on my right sidesteps.  I am to try some drifting into his space but not a ton since he's a sensitive dog.

- Make scent articles harder for Lance, not easier.  He's a worrier and a way to get him to worry less and think more is to start putting the article pile in unusual places.  Under a chair, behind the tv, etc.  Make it fun and never ever correct him for getting it wrong.  I'm also going to start withholding party (for right) and (light praise) for wrong until he gets all the way to front so he has to commit more to the article.

- I showed her treating behind me and on my right for Lance and while she hadn't seen it before she thinks it will work nicely for Lance along with my backing up but doing it with a harder turn left.lk

Ninso  – ( July 13, 2011 at 8:49 AM )  

I would have loved to come to this one! So what are the most important things you learned?

Dizzy  – ( July 13, 2011 at 9:50 AM )  

Sounds like fun! I wish I could go to more seminars. How are you working the silence = good? That seems like something I could use.

Shenna Lemche AKA Project Leader  – ( July 13, 2011 at 9:57 AM )  

I am SO bummed that I couldn't get to this seminar- I agree that you should share the more important learning points! What I hear so far even is really helpful and eye opening and would like more! ;) Thanks for catching the rest of us up!

Patty  – ( July 13, 2011 at 11:59 AM )  

I would love to attend one of her seminars. I definitely need to work on weaning off treats and having Sophie play more with me as a reward. Glad to hear you enjoyed the seminar!

Cynthia  – ( July 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM )  

Ooo man I am so bad at fading treats, too. And that silence thing, I also tend to have silence mean bad, treats mean good.

Sounds like really good stuff! I have not heard of her before.

achieve1dream  – ( July 28, 2011 at 7:32 PM )  

Sounds like you got a lot of helpful information out of this clinic. I'm with everyone else. I'd love to hear more.

Tegan  – ( January 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM )  

Would love to hear more about your seminar experience. :) She sounds like a great speaker, and I really enjoy her blog.

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