Friday, December 2, 2011

Shy Dog Class Review

We finished up our first 6 week "Shy Dog Class" this week.

The class consisted of confidence building activities around people, noises, and the environment. The handlers learned about body language, making choices, and getting the balance between awareness of environment and focus on the handler.

Things that went really well:  
      The activities in the "noise and movement" chapter of Agility Right From the Start.  I'll say this is the only thing that had complete success for all the dogs.  We modified it slightly from the book due to the skill level of the students in the class, but again, it was a huge success.
     Object Interaction: Even with less than ideal training (my fault), the dogs all were interacting with at least some of the things to go on and over.

Things that will be changed:  
       Kay Laurences Cavaletti DVD makes it seem like caveletti are the answer to all the worlds problems. And it could be!  But with this group of shy dogs it took so many weeks to get them just  to step over happily that not all the dogs were able to progress to trotting over lie we had expected.  Will we keep this exercise?  Yes, with some modifications.
      Choices:  We wanted the handlers to learn to work at that "point of success" where there was challenge but the dog was not concerned about the person/whatever.   It was harder to get the handlers to take initiative and make choices and to differentiate when to be guiding the dog (body language, voice, and if needed, the leash) and when to be letting the dog explore.  Next time around, we'll do more foundation exercises for those skills.
My shy dog looking very nervous!
     Good Training Practices:  Even with a good demonstration, the handlers focused on a different part than intended.  Next time around, we'll do more handouts and a video demonstration rather than a real-dog demonstration.
     All of the dogs can repeat the class again.  Two were recommended to stay in the class and the others had additional options (some moving into regular classes, focus and distraction, or on leash agility).  

I wanted to see more progress at class, but all of the dogs made big accomplishments at home during this time frame, and that's really the most important part.

The class will next run in January. I'm looking forward to the next group of dogs.

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