Last week Bernadette came over for a walk with Zen and Pax. We went for a pub lunch first and then off to Eridge. We had a nice time and I provided the entertainment by getting my foot stuck in a really muddy puddle and almost losing my shoe. I think it was very unkind of Bernadette to roll around laughing instead of rushing to my assistance. Some friend.
Niamh is going through a bad phase of goading Poppy (she does this from time to time and then stops for a while). She wants Poppy to play with her but Poppy is far to busy sniffing or rolling around on the floor. The trouble is that Niamh then leaps around sideways, backwards (rarely forwards) and is rather a liability. She is very good with our shelties and does her utmost never to run into them but even so it can become rather tiresome. I didn't want her knocking into Zen or Pax so she had some of the walk on lead and then Zen took a turn on lead and this way everyone was happy!
The following day I went to Eridge again as I needed to take some supplies into Mum. We had a lovely walk; just me and my little three as Andy walked his own dogs that day. Here are some pictures. They aren't bad considering they were taken with my mobile as I'd forgotten my camera (again!)
On Saturday I went to a training day with Natasha Wise. It's my third one of these sessions and I really enjoyed it again. I love Natasha's enthusiasm and the ways she trains (both dogs and people.) I came away with two really useful tweaks to my training with Niamh.
The tweaks were simple but very effective:
One tip was to get rid of my steady command prior to pull throughs and just cue her with my pull through word "IN". She then understands immediately it's a pull through and looks for the second/third jump in the sequence. When I was putting in my steady word she was unsure if it was a wing wrap to begin with and wasn't actively looking for the pull through. So simple but so right. Why didn't I see this?
The other suggestion was to trust Niamh more when turning through a 90° or greater turn. I'm using the same style as Tasha, i.e. still using my lead arm but also the opposite (collect) arm in these situations. However, I tend to stop and watch Niamh respond to the cue and Tasha told me to trust her more as she fully understands the signal. In other words as I use this cue I should keep moving to where we are going and trust the cue to do its job and believe that Niamh will pick up the right signal. She did, every time and it was so much better for me to be able to keep moving rather than having to push off from a near stand still. Leah has the same problem with me when I'm doing push throughs, I tend to dog watch rather than move into the next position. When I play badminton I often shot watch rather than move back to position so I guess it's a problem I have!
I was very disappointed with myself on the contact section. We didn't do a lot of these as we'd worked hard on jumping sequences. Maybe I was brain dead by this stage but I went neutral on Niamh and she hates that. She needs me to engage with her and act happy like I normally do. Tash immediately spotted it but it was too late as I'd unsettled poor Niamh. Never mind, we'll fix that at home and/or at training tomorrow night. I am a useless and stupid dog trainer at times. For some reason I get very nervous on training days.
The training session was at Polly's and she very kindly made us all lunch of baked potato. After the session I went for a nice walk on Chobham common with Karen and Hannah. It was lovely. I had only Niamh and Zeki with me as Pops had stayed home with Andy as I thought it would be too cold for her sitting in the car. The difference with Niamh was amazing. No Poppy "sheep" to play with and she just trotted around like a normal dog. In fact she wasn't at all confident and kept coming back to me for reassurance, something she rarely if ever does. Even Karen and Hannah noticed the difference. Normally my walks are peppered with "careful" commands to make Niamh take notice of what she's doing. I didn't have to say this once. It was lovely! Zeki on the other hand was full of confidence and spent most of the time up front with Corrie or Hannah's Zazzy.
After the walk we went back to Karen's for a cup of tea and bad Karen got out a huge bag of popcorn which we couldn't stop eating!
Sunday was very wet here and so we had a really lazy day. I had lessons booked but had to cancel. Instead I finished a very good book I was reading. Then horror of horrors, we spent part of the afternoon working in the office! How sad is that.