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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mr Woof and his ears!

Wow what a beautiful day here at Camddwr! I really love this place at this time of year- I took the opportunity to take some much needed shots of Mr Woof - I wasnt incredibly successful- but managed a couple of nice ones- the others are of disappearing bottoms etc!  He is growing into a handsome young man, surprisingly not a big dog, but a real little charachter!
We are also very proud to say that his mum 'pip' owned by Sandra Adams, won the CSJ Novice final that we ran last weekend at Bakewell- more news on that later, but all I can say is - WOW she was absolutely stunning! If Mr Woof  has inherited some of her amazing talent-I will be more than happy!  Anyhow- Here are the latest shots of our boy-Note to self- dont try and take pictures while all the dogs are zooming round the paddock- whilst its good distraction training, and wait proofing- it also turns into a bit of a circus!
I reckon these are his ears to stay, although the other one does put in an appearance when he is excited lol 

Friday, 23 September 2011

The blank canvas and the comfort blanket!

Anyone else get scared as well as excited by this prospect?
Woof is now nearly 8 months old, so I can now start training his groundwork for agility in earnest- and so I am setting about putting together a training plan to give me some focus and direction. (sorry if thats nerdy but thats the way I like to work.)
His drive is really good and natural- His focus is brilliant for his age, and his charachter is rather amusing and fun to work with - I love him so much!
Training wise, most of the stuff we are teaching at this stage is just small fun tricks/games that will teach him some skills that he will later find useful. I think I enjoy this stage the most if I am honest- the blank canvas stage! HOWEVER, it is also a tad scary- This sport of ours is moving on at such a pace, that you would be a fool not to try and evolve with it- and I am doing my best to do as much research as I can without overloading the grey matter and confusing myself to the point of distraction! 
 I have been competing in this sport for a very scary 20 years! Yes that long- and we have had a good degree of success along the way, my spirit with each new challenge is renewed, but there is always that comfort zone- the training skills that I hold dear, the methods I know will work, the comfort blanket  that I just know I have to leave beheind- Do you know what I mean? Its not just about learning lessons and doing things differently, I think sometimes it really is about taking the step into the unknown and being evolutionary- trying new things, treading  into new territories and leaving the comfort zone behiend!  I am determind to do it, but it does feel uncomfortable I have to admit!
I am talking contacts at this stage, and later I guess the same will apply to my weave training- do I get the old channels out? or do I try something new? Undecided on that one!

Contact training
Taking steps into the unknown-I am totally out of my comfort zone with this one, and I feel a little bit naked! I am  trying something very new! it feels very strange I have to say.   The biggest problem for me with learning something completely new is that you have no problem solving ability- no where to go to work things out- whereas using a common method (or one that is known to you) is so straight forward, and hails few risks in terms of getting it wrong.

You could go down the path of 'if it aint boke...' ie why use a new method if you have a perfectly good one that works- good point and one I may come back to - but I really want to stretch myslf as a trainer too- and of course you have to evolve, or you become part of the past.

Today I felt quite vulnerable in my training- I moved on too quickly with his  dog walk groundwork and hit that very point of 'oh shit-now what' He really didnt understand what I had asked, and hadnt generalised accross what he had learnt at the previous stage- I quickly re- coiled back to an earlier lesson and we both felt more comfortable-  The feeling was a little odd - almoast as if I wondered whether Woof  had noticed that I wasnt actually au fait with the method-(there's that nakedness again) and perhaps therefore not as confident-  I am sure those of you trying something new will know these feelings well-  but it was a place Woof and I hadnt been to before, and I will have to try hard that we try not to go there too often. We finished our session on a good note- one we both understood -but I now need to think very carefully about moving on and build in many more steps to my groundwork in order for Woof to move forward confidently!

Another task I have set myself with woof is to get him out and about to as many different training situations as I can- Yesterday I went to visit a freind in Holmes Chappel, and so took the opportunity to take him with me and play in her paddock. Her dogs were watching and  vocally cheering us on from the fence- and I was really impressed with woofs' attitude! Totally focussed, and very much un phased by the change in surroundings at all! We did some sendaways, recalls and positions and they were all spot on! Clever woof!  In November, I have two  workshop foundation training sessions booked with him - both of which involve travelling, and also I will soon go and  stay with a friend to do some training too - so plenty planned for the months ahead to ensure that we really take our training on the road!
Bye for now
Love this pic of Mr Tog and Stu at the WAO- not to self take some more of Mr Woof so I can add them here!

CSJ Novice Agility Final -Winners trophy

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More news of the CSJ Novice Agility Final to follow:

Csj final

Well to go with this lovely image juist posted we are off to bakewell to host the csj novice final tomorrow, good luck to those who have qualified this year and let's hope the sun shines I will give some updates after the event
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Reflections-and the mental game!

Well I think its kind of sad in a way that the season is drawing to an end: Yes I have plenty to do with a new pup to train, and the new business premisis here to move into- so why on earth am I sad? Well- I think perhaps my best moments of this year, came at the end of the season! Celebrated though they were, I just wish there was more to come as I am feeling motivated, and excited about the sport- more than I have for a long time! Why is this? Well- I have had an issue that has been nagging away at me for years, getting in the way of my enjoyment, and also restricting my performance and also my confidence. I have always been prone to mental blocks under pressure. Although I have to say we have always done pretty well over the years, and I have been incredibly lucky to share my sport with the most amazing dogs! It has if I am honest, always limited my own self belief in what I could achieve.
After a very frustrating run in a champ final at Weardale show, I decided enough was enough! Noonoo was running an absolute blinder and it was all just going too well- concentrating on the difficult element coming up, my mind switched off and BANG! I was lost! All over, and  with that dreadful feeling of failure, I left the ring. I decided  there and then to crack this- I am a pretty determined person once I get the bit between my teeth- so I was sure I could sort it out if only i knew how!  Welll - amazingly the answer was not so far away and following on from a few questions, I found Anne Coppley- a very skilled practitioner in Neuro linguistic processing (I hope I have that right?) Anne offered to help, and as she was an agility competitor herself I felt sure that she understood what was happening and agreed to work with her to try and resolve it. I think I always believed it was just the way I was wired- I had the same panic in other situations during my teens and school years, so I could recognise it, but just thought it was some kind of dyslexia or lack of brain skill on my part. I have only had one session with Anne, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am- We went off to the Festival and then onto DIN - I wasnt expecting miracles but I was hopeful that it would have helped- It had! Working on my self image, Anne had enabled me to become a confident and postive handler! I had more clears than usual, my confidence grew, and my performance went from strength to strength! I managed to tackle some difficult courses without getting blocked, and I felt AMAZ|ING! At Dogs in need, a friend also leant me a small but powerful book by an american gold medalist in the shooting arena - With Winning in Mind- its not just about winning, but anyone wanting to improve their self confidence and performance - I cannot recomend it highly enough!  It wouldnt have helped on its own , however-I think this backed up all the work that Anne had begun and I was 'away'!  I was enjoying Agility more than I can ever remember! We didnt qualify for the classic finals but we werent far off and with 3 out of 4 clears, I felt very proud! I even managed a clear  and a 7th place in g7 with Stuarts Mr Tog! You know the most reinforcing thing was all the comments from people about my handling and my performance- I could not have been happier! 
Wyre was our next event, and the weather was dreadful! We decided not to do all of our runs and just concentrated on the champ class- this ring was holding up OK in the mud, and we both decided to run this one and if the dogs coped, we would continue. They did, and Noonoo managed a lovely clear, and a 5 putting her into the champ final! Would my demons return? This was a test of tests for me, and I dont think I was even nervous! Determined, positive yes- but I was OK- I was running about mid way, so I watched a few dogs but not too many, stuck to my plan totally and WOW! I was so thrilled! I think I actually enjoyed it too! did I win? NO! Lee Gibson won the ticket and I was thrilled for him and Scot- but little Noonoo ran her socks off for me- and I got to jump 16 and  over steadied her, pulling her off the jump! I wasnt disappointed, I was very proud of myself! so - you can see why I am actually a bit sad- I just dont want it to end!  I was so hopeful for a call up to the Semi's but it didnt happen (shame! )  Is this the same person that used to cringe when her name was called out in the champ final running order? -I will continue to build on my confidence and my performance and hope I will be able to take on the challenges next year in the same way!  In the meantime, if you have a problem that is getting in the way of your performance or enjoymnet of your sport- go find Anne- I cannot recomend her highly enough!
Bye for now,

Monday, 5 September 2011

Woof - the early days!

Some more pictures from the early days of Mr Woof! His ears here are really funny,and to be honest even at 6 months they still dont know quite what to do so I guess those are the ears he is going to have lol
He is not a big dog, and given he was the largest pup in the litter, I am quite surprised that he hasnt grown into a bigger dog- a nice size for agility, he is quite fine, and probably stands just a little taller than my little bitch Noonoo. Already you can see his structure is going to give him alot of power, and  I hope some tight turning ability to compliment his speed! Exciting times ahead if it ever stops raining!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Well I thought it was about time I introduced this little man!Woof is our new addition to our family and is now six months old. He is actually a tri- although i dont think you would notice- I will be posting here about his training which will now be starting in earnest, so you can follow his progress! He is an agility bred dog, and we are very lucky to have such a happy healthy pup here at Camddwr! I can't wait to start his training, but we are always keen not to rush our young dogs, and believe that good solid foundation work shold be the cornerstone of a dogs' career, and this is where we will begin. I have started with jumping lanes, using 'jump bumps' to teach an independent sendaway and recall, with no movement  from me at all- I am also using a ball thrower to help as a remote reward for him- I cannot say I have ever had a problem with independence training, but I do love this piece of kit, and Woof does too- so will be adding some small clips using it shortly! With contacts I am still undecided what to do- but  would like to be able to teach two behaviours to Woof- a 2020 and also a running contact. I dont know too many people who have managed this successfully so we will have to see how it goes- but it is still in the 'thinking ' stage just now! 
We have just come back from the Olympia semi's - a sad day in many ways, not only did it mark a  decision to retire binka from competitive Agility Competion, (he will still be kept fit and be entered in the odd run) but also it was a day of 'if only's! ' for young Tog! Not our day today, and it  will be sad not to be going to London at Xmas- Indeed I cannot remember the last time this has not been  the culminaton of our Agility Calender-  but well done indeed to all who qualified in such a fast fun exciting semi final! Especially to little Woofs' mum Pip  who did the most stunning run - I will look forward to following their progress in December!