18 November 2011

Respect and space

I attended a training session at another venue last night - I figured that I would give my dogs a run on other equipment, at another venue. And so.. I was reminded why it is imperative to have RULES...!

I love my own training grounds... My training, my rules: and ALL rules pertain to myself as well as anyone that trains with me (remember, training with me is free so basically I can be strict on this)
Rules aren't there just 'because'... and certainly not to be broken! The rules are for the good of all the handlers, all the dogs, to make things run smoothly so that the people can enjoy and get great work done! I am serious about my training and I don't want things and other people/ dogs interfering in my work.....

So... training last night OH  MY WORD. Deep breaths, mouth shut and try and concentrate!

There actually aren't words.... But I am going to try and keep it polite!

Handlers need to have respect for other handlers! They really need to try and be fair to ALL handlers and dogs attending. But I can see that this doesn't apply to some people, and saying anything directly to the person will be scoffed at and ignored as it has been before.. and saying anything to the Committee in charge will be ignored as well (deal with it yourself). So basically, anyone that is serious is actually in the way and can either suck it up, or not come back, hence keeping the group small and elite as everyone stays away - great for them!

For example.. last night...

A few obstacles were placed on the field and numbered (great)
We all had the opportunity of walking the exercise as per the numbers, or our own route that suited us and our dogs (great)
However, 1 specific handler with 4 border collies insisted on the dogs running loose while we all worked out our routes. The dogs weren't just loose.. they were all trotting around the obstacles! I tried my best to ignore it, but in one sequence I wanted to see if I could outrun my dog and put in a blind cross, so I worked out the line I wanted to take (inbetween dogs and people) and started working it. There was an error in my judgement and I thought it may not work, so I wanted to try it again... and as I stepped back I almost broke my neck over a dog. When eventually I was able to weave between the dogs again in a higgeldy piggeldy 'line' I came across another area where I wanted to try something - an outward 'flick' and back cross to draw my dog in a u-turn away from me... up came my hand to work out timing, and I smacked it into a dogs face, the tooth bruising the side of my hand. Eventually I just gave up and went to sit down.

I really don't understand how this is classified as TRAINING!

And what's more laughable, is the fact that half these dogs are not tied up when the owner is "working" and at any given time there are more than 1 of her dogs on the course at the same time! Every handler has to wait while this one handler plays around on the course with not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 dogs/ times a session, attempting to direct one dog haphazardly, while shooing another off the course and out of the way.....
But anyway, this bit has nothing to do with me.. it's the memorising of the exercise that I can't get past!

I have rules for a reason - to be able to concentrate and work. Strictly - ONE dog per handler per session, two if the number of handlers is very small. BUT there is 1 dog allowed on the exercise at a time, and NO dogs out while we are walking the route! Dogs are benched in cars/ crates/ tied up with leads.
We are all able to work in harmony, think, concentrate and achieve lots in a session!

Have consideration, please people.. I think I will try and speak up next time and will be prepared for sarcasm again.......

Thoughts & frustrations

Recently I have had some unpleasant situations... but what remains constant is my dogs, and my training...
Just a few thoughts on the way things are in my life.. nothing serious, just making sure there's no 'mud' when it comes to training and my dogs.

I am not a selfish person, but I am really trying to work on this for my dogs' sake. I want to spend more time on my own dogs and their training, and their fun, and less with people that so often let me down. I want to be more selfish. So.. I have narrowed down my group training to one day a week, and stuck with a training partner for the rest of the time, plus of course, I train at home alone.

Often I wonder what people expect of me... How many times have I heard: "Oh PLEASE can you help me" and "I will do ANYTHING to have my dog do xyz". I am always pretty strict. I do not force my "ways" on anyone, but I make it clear if YOU come to ME for help, PLEASE TRY what I suggest, and every step, not just for 2 days! I am sooo despondent with people's lack of commitment after they SWORE blind that they will do whatever it takes to achieve great things.

Someone came to me a while ago and begged me to help her with her new border collie puppy. I really didn't have time, I had my sheltie puppy to train up, plus some other puppies that I was working with. I know this doesn't sound a lot, but I work a full day (8am to 5pm) and need to train my own dogs, and then fit in other people as well.. it is really hectic! This person continued to beg and beg and said that she had not received great training previously and she was desperate to learn new things and do things the "right way" with her new dog. Of course, I am soft, so I gave in and spent hours of my precious time with her. I was disappointed as she sometimes didn't listen to strict instructions and raced ahead and missed steps, and I spoke up about this. "Yes.. yes.. yes.." was the response but it continued happening.

I am very strict when it comes to the dog's health and prefer to "max out" on foundation work and not do anything very strenuous for the dog before it is ready. I never train full courses, only exercises and little scenarios. This is one thing that I try and drill into my students, DO NOT ask your dog to do something, in any situation, that it doesn't already know how to do.... ie dont ask your dog to run a course and go from a tunnel into a go-round-spread, if you have never trained go-rounds, if your dog hasn't done a spread and hadn't ever learnt the go-round spread!

So what happens, this student goes to another club, runs her young dog on full courses. It is now competing, and cannot string 3 obstacles together without veering off the line or circling, cannot enter the weaves from anywhere except 1 specific spot, at 1 specific speed, cannot do a left or right turn on cue...

I am sorry, people I cannot work like this :(
I have very high standards but I cannot help someone that doesn't follow the program.

Another person (that I also spent hours and hours on) went to great lengths to get advice from all and sundry and flitted from one training 'tool' to another, and eventually settled on another 'trainer' and ignored my valuable advice on training a border collie for agility. I continuously got "so-and-so and I have decided that I am doing it this way.. which forced me to have to work around this. I was her "Agility trainer" who was in fact not able to train her in Agility due to all these obstacles in my path. Mega problems ensued and the controlled drive that I was trying to install is off-the-wall, the tools I suggested for a "connecton" to the dog for reward and release were challenged, the time-outs I begged for were hyped isolation.. the basics that I instill in all my dogs and all my student's dogs were unreliable to the point that further work was difficult.. the bond between handler and student just wasn't on the right "plane" to work... All these things made stress in my life and took time away from my own dogs and my training and no matter how many sugar-coated, kind times I tried laying it out, explaining, going through things, nothing ever seemed to sink in. Excuses, excuses, excuses were all I got in return and more pleas for help until I finally came to my wits end and said it as plainly as I could, in black and white, BLUNT. Needless to say I cannot work with this person any more because I can teach them nothing.

I do not charge for training, I do it because I want people to achieve and have great rounds with their dogs.
All the cost of the equipment, the ground rental etc is on me. I ask for nothing except for the people to enjoy it and to achieve.

So I will say it again, I cannot work like this, people! I am an agility trainer and instructor, and if you come to me (I am not saying do it "my way"), please take in the ENTIRE picture, decide what you want to achieve and we will set out a plan for you to get there. I have certain methods of training contacts, weaves etc, and you may do a different method, fine - I can steer you in the right direction, and help you with all the steps - but the basics, the foundation the reward types, the control, the drive, PLEASE let me help you with this!!!

Being strict about these things, and using my previous track record of champions to relay certain points across to my students, I have been accused of having an "ego". I am really sorry that anybody feels this way, I do not believe that I am better than anybody, or that my dogs are better than anyone else's. I DO, however, believe in my training methods, I have proof that they work, other great trainers use the same methods that I believe in, and they have proven that they work.... and THAT is what I "harp" on when students argue silly points and insist on doing things in an unproven way. And when they don't work, I hold back the "I-told-you-so and focus on the best "fix" (against my better judgement).. thereby taking up more of my (free) valuable time, only to be confronted with more of the same.

I don't have any more time or energy for this, so I have to say this: from now on my time is my time. I am taking on no more students, except my new puppy owners, that I will spend a little time with to get you all going and answer questions and offer advice. This is my hobby and my dogs are my family, and I would like to enjoy my dogs and I won't put up with ungrateful people and sacrifice my own life any more.

I am known for "saying it like it is", and so anyone that is offended, get over it, this is just me. At least I am honest. I refuse to sugar-coat anything!