We’re back home after ten intense days in Canada. We learned a lot and made new friends. Shejpa is a great dog to travel with. The vet at the airport in Norway even asked if she was on calming drugs, because she was just sleeping in her crate while we were waiting. I guess a lot of dogs are more worried about flying and waiting at airports.
The first two days was Greg Derrett’s master camp and I was just watching. It was very interesting, but you get more confused the more you learn, that’s for sure. Greg and Susan does not agree on everything and that leaves me in a spot where I have to make some descisions… I left Greg, Susan and the rest of them on their own on the third day, because Shejpa and I got a spot at Laura Derrett’s work shop. It was fun to run, but Shejpa got tired very quickly in the hot weather. It doesn’t look too bad when I watch the videos, but some runs felt like she was jogging. I think I did a pretty good job though, and sometimes it’s better to be slow and correct (as a handler learning) than to do it fast and sloppy.
Greg and Laura went back to England and we carried on for four more days with Tweener Camp. We did a lot of things and Shejpa was mostly a good dog with quite a lot of drive. She liked the sheep skin tug toy and we bought a few nice toys to bring back home. I tried them on Pi today and she was thrilled. We did quite a lot of work on the nose touches, but we didn’t come as far as I had hoped. I realized that we weren’t quite finished with fading the target and worked a lot on that. She’s generally good when I take the target away after one or two repetitions, but when we start with no target, she’s uncertain on where to put her nose touches and tends to curl into me on the stairs. We made great progress and one of the things we did was to place lots of targets around the stairs, but out of her reach, to proof that she was targeting straight anyway.
Shejpa relaxing in her crate
We also worked a lot on a hot target discrimination (much like the one you do at chicken camp). I chose quite difficult objects that rolled away if she wasn’t thoughtful and controlled. I liked that idea, but I guess it slowed us down a bit. She indicated the hot target (chapstick tube) by laying down with the target between her front legs. I thought the discrimination part would be easy, but Shejpa behaved much like the chicken at chicken camp – throwing themselves at a target that you drop or peck at. We did work through it and I think it was a great experience for both of us. Shejpa really needs a lot of shaping (wich I have neglected with her) and challenges that forces her to be more thoughtful. Some people will tell you that shaping makes dogs frantic and stressed, but I would say it’s the other way around if you do it right. Shejpa is getting more and more calm and thoughtful for every session of shaping.
Susan and DeCaff
Bob Bailey came to Say Yes on the last day. We were eight people (mostly Susan’s instructors and Susan her self) working our dogs and talking (a lot of talking, really) with Bob helping out. It was a great experience and I’m very thankful for being invited! I also drove Bob to the airport and got a chance to really talk to him about the 80% rule that has been kind of misunderstood in Scandinavia. I got great information from him. This is my own summary of what he said (and I hope I got it all right):
– When the animal is successfull 80% of the time, you should raise your criteria.
– It’s a common misstake to not challenge the animal enough in training
– 90% success is definatly a misstake
– You need to re-think and make a new plan if you’re not progressing (not getting a higher percentage of correct responses) in three consecutive sessions.
– You need to re-think and make a new plan if you’re getting worse (getting a lower percentage of correct responses) in two consecutive sessions.
– You shouldn’t worry about not getting 80% success as long as it’s getting better and better, but don’t raise your criteria until you’re getting closer to 80%.
– How low your success rate can be is dependent on if the animal still thinks it’s worthwhile to keep trying. Bob thought that 50% was kind of a limit for a lot of animals.
– These principles are worked out by gathering data from a lot of training sessions with a lot of different animals and it worked great for Bob and his trainers.
You can fins lots of pictures from our trip in the gallery (click on “photos” above). I’d like to thank Susan for another fun trip across the Atlantic and Justine for being a great room mate. Also, congratulations to Justine, Lynda and Susan for making the FCI world team!