Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evolution of a training program

I have a whole list of posts I want to make, but time has gotten away from me. They will come. But I took 10 minutes to eat lunch and decided to jump on Susan Garrett's blog for some lunch-time reading. Today's post, "Is good Dog Training Static or Dynamic?" hit home for me, especially following a weekend agility seminar with Jenn Crank.

One of the other participants at the seminar asked me if I learned anything new at the seminar. I had to think about that question for a minute. I've followed the same handling system since 2002, and I take private lessons and seminars with Jenn. The honest answer is I heard little "new" information this weekend -- but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth my time!

I wrote down two pages of notes. Mostly they were things I had heard before, but I wanted to remember them and highlight them for my training program. In addition, I wrote down several things Page and I need to work on (and we have some homework!).

But I think what I enjoyed most was Jenn's transparency on her own dynamic training program. She talked about the differences in how she trained Xtreme's contacts and Kaboo's contacts. One was taught using the "one rear toe" (ORT) method and the other using a front foot focused two on two off (2o2o) method. She went on to talk about what she liked and didn't like in the end performance of both.

I have always struggled with my dogs' contact performances, and I think Page's performance is the best I've trained so far (we still have a way to go until it's perfected). Page and Devon were similarly trained as Jenn's dogs; Page was taught a 2o2o through nose touch and Devon was taught a stopped contact through shaping with the ORT method. (Devon runs her contacts now, but she was originally taught to have a stopped contact.)

Jenn's thoughts on the pros and cons were interesting to me, and I'll tuck them into my mind for that time years from now when I train another dog. That's why I appreciated Susan's blog post this morning. Training isn't static. My training program is evolving.

But my training program is consistent. While I love the dog training information Susan Garrett uses, I don't pay attention to her agility handling. Since I began agility, my experience has been with the Awesome Paws Handling System, and that's what I will maintain. The key is finding good resources that are dynamic and fit consistently with your training program.

Speaking of consistency, Jenn Crank and Carol Cassity are two peas in a pod even if one has never heard of the other and they work in different dog sports (agility and field). Don't hang the toys from the tree sounds a lot like don't hide the candy to me!