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!
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