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Consistency with cues

Not long ago I designed My Rule Book to help me cue with consistency, whether it be agility, tricks, Parkour or every day life. Watching agility video helped me learn to be (fairly) consistent as I run courses. A big eye opener with Parkour was the day I deleted the out-of-sync audio because it was so disconcerting. My hand cues were all over the place. He doesn’t yet have too many verbals for Parkour. No wonder he wasn’t responding consistently! Really good trainers use consistent cues. Their dogs never have a question about where they’re heading or what they’re being asked to do.

With the snow storm I decided to film this morning’s pre-breakfast training. Used wings for Edie and Zopa and several Parkour exercises I’ve been training with Tanner. My intention? See how I’m cuing and adjust. Prior to wing work I did a search to revisit ‘circle work’. Work on the flat. Was fairly disappointed not to find what I was searching for. This video was the closest I could find. Good stuff in it.

Just began looking at my own video. Rendering Edie with the wings in order to share with Lori. I’m wanting to do foundation stuff….but I’m not happy with my setup. Need advice. I don’t have the width of space this lady does and I’d really rather be using wings and/or jumps.

Lori’s response: When it’s just a wing, it’s not really defined as a backside or a front side so I don’t think it’s hurting to mix up the words. I’ll be interested how that evolves with this online class that just started today on verbals. Can you stick a yoga mat under the wings to help with the slipping?

The Parkour stuff. The cues. I’m thinking there’s not that many even though there’s unlimited possibilities ‘on location’. The dog needs to understand:
~ get on something, either with 2 feet or 4 feet. That would be either ‘upup’ or ‘get on’.
~ stay in position until released. That would be ‘wait’.
~ or move ‘in position’ until released. I don’t yet have verbal cues for things like straddle.

I brought this subject up in Parkour class: I’ve got a question about cues. Specifically consistency when cuing. A couple of weeks ago, for whatever reason, the audio wasn’t synced with the video. It was disconcerting to watch, so I deleted the audio. Very curious. We, as humans, rely on verbal…but as you pointed out when I shared beginning Straddle training, Tanner has no idea what the verbal means. Watching that audio-free video of our Parkour session at my grooming shop it was clear that I’m not always clear. 🙂 Which got me to thinking…I want to devise a plan for Consistent Cues for my dogs. We play agility, tricks and now Parkour. 
This morning I videoed our pre-breakfast homework with cuing in mind. I’m aghast! To be fair my girls did agility wing work (basically cone work) and my boys did Parkour. I was using three different words for the same basic behavior! ‘Go around the thing’ was the behavior…whether it’s a free-standing wing (little house) or beginning steps of Rebound with Elliot. (Tanner gets Rebounds. 🙂 ). I used the words ‘push’, ‘go, go’ and ‘around’. Seems I could condense this. 
What’s your take on this?

Responses:
Jude – Good noticing, Debby! We often get sloppy with cues. Luckily, the dogs are usually cueing on some body language that we are not aware of but are doing consistently. But many times we get them totally confused and I hate to see handlers frustrated with their dogs when the dogs are doing their best to figure out the puzzle the handler is presenting with mixed cueing!

Kristine – I am probably more “fluid” with cues than most people.

Tessa has always been more of a physical cue dog, but I have found over time that she has learned some verbals. Oddly, Parkour, where there is no restriction on physical cues, has helped her learn some verbals well.

Condensing to one cue is always a good thing. 🙂 Maybe figure out what makes the most sense to you and Tanner.

Ariel – I film myself a lot when training Piper and that helps a lot with being consistent with cues and seeing what cues Piper likes or has an easier time responding to. 

I know I had trouble with go arounds until I found a system I could be consistent and clear with for my dog. I learned that Piper likes “fly” for both directions and for me to send her with either my right or left hand. It tells her which way to go around the stuff.

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Just sent Tanner’s ADP-L2 Title Submission

Fingers crossed. I shared my draft submission only once with my teacher Kristine. Thought I had it right, but there were two rules I missed. Walk On EF must be 18″ wide or less. I’d used two folded down grooming tables propped up on the wine and peach crates. Novel Uses needs the same EF. I shared 4 Novel Uses in the draft because I had a question. The question was answered, but I learned Novel Uses requires the same EF. I used just the wine crate for two and the long vacuum attachment propped on the wine crate for the other two.

So I created a different Walk On EF, taught Tanner how to jump through the over-turned wine crate, re-shot those exercises and submitted this…

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Consistency

Consistency with cues was my original title for this post. It might circle back to that. But, for now, I need to write. Sitting here at 10am on Wednesday I wonder if I jumped the gun by rescheduling today’s clients. …now several hours later here comes the snow. If I’d had a crystal ball I would have gone to work and closed early. The bomb cyclone several weeks ago made me jumpy. Besides! I needed a mental health day. Space and time alone in the quiet.

What a tumultuous few days it has been. Thanks to Crazy Cora, Rick called for a sheriff escort to remove a cabinet project from Fred’s. There are lots of other adjectives to describe her. The fact that she’s had multiple husbands along with her family – children and siblings – having nothing to do with her paints an adequate picture. That nice young couple with the baby who moved next door? She has created a ridiculous neighbor situation. That pattern, the pattern it’s always the same.

Fred. Fred. Fred. Why on earth did it take you so long to address what would happen after you died? You, Cora and Rick spent 4 hours one Friday afternoon writing down your wishes with the intention of seeing the lawyer on Monday. You died Sunday. Whoops. As events have proven, if it ain’t in writing it didn’t happen. You wanted Rick to continue to use the shop and maintain the property until Cora chose to move. Sounded simple enough, right? All parties agreed. Rick has hauled her trash, fixed her computer issues, picked up her mail, scooped the decks, plowed the driveway, called in help when she’s been suicidal, repaired the well and on and on since your death several years ago. She has screamed at him, accused him of being a thief and called him horrible names. Now she has banned him from setting foot on the property. The snow plow you and Rick purchased together years before you allowed her to move in with you? Hers. The tools you and Rick purchased together over the years? Hers. The tool Rick purchased from Paul, the one thing he’d most like? Hers.

I am angry at all of you, including Rick. I am angry at myself for not putting my foot down regarding his dealings with her. Over and over again I have told him to remember what his mother taught him. ‘Don’t hang around with crazy people.’ It is far past time he moved out of the shop. It’s too bad he needed to call the sheriff…who had tears in her eyes when Rick closed the door to the shop one last time and said, “you’ve been a good shop for the past 30 years.”

I am grateful to Shannon. I am grateful Rick recently started working with Tracy. I am grateful Tracy didn’t tell him to take a hike, given the drama required to get her client’s cabinets out of the shop. Instead she told him he has a shop to work in and that he can do what he’d like to make her shop more comfortable for him. She told Rick it’s a new chapter. He has ideas for streamlining production. He has ideas for creating two different areas in her shop; one for production and one for students. He’s enjoying Tracy’s shop setting, a place I haven’t yet seen. It’s a big space with other businesses, so he’s meeting other craftsmen.

Perhaps I should thank Crazy Cora instead of wanting to bitch slap her.

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April showers…

..and all that. Trying something different with my gardening this year, so April showers bring May flowers has been stuck in my head. A plan, an actual garden plan for starters. Lori, my sister, is growing four baskets for me; three for sun and one for shade. My chives in a planter made it through the winter. Filling out the rest of that planter with various peas, seeding today in special grow pots purchased at Echter’s. Next weekend I’ll revitalize the soil in my window boxes and add a few pansies. ‘Garden’ is now a line item in my monthly budget.

Curious classes Thursday and Friday. Goose has been gone over a year now. I still miss that dog. Walking one course on Thursday Lori looked at me and mentioned how Goose would probably have ‘taken the wrong way’ at a particular spot because he flipped away with the slightest movement. I could visualize him doing exactly that in that spot and how I would have handled it to direct him ‘the right way’.

Aw buddy. You were the best. Determined to have an equally fun teammate, your absence initially pushed me harder with my own dogs. …while smiling and having fun at the same time.

Thursday we talked a bit about the use of ‘toy bags’ (bait bags, bunny bags). I witness, over and over again, dogs being distracted by the toy. Not my dogs. 😉 Oh, if only we had such a problem. Handlers run with the ‘toy’, holding it in one hand or the other, switching hands in order to hold the toy. Dogs miss cues when they’re focused on the ‘toy’. (Sorta like Zopa with the snuffle mat. Dogs do need to learn to work through that…like we’ve done/are doing with Zopa.) Sometimes people toss the toy as a reward. Sometimes they don’t. And lots of times the dog isn’t focused on the work. Lori said the way I toss the ‘toy’ at the end of a run is more like a click, a marker for work well done. A long time ago I faded running with the ‘toy’ in my hand. Instead it’s in my back pocket. On rare occasions I’ll pull it out and run with it in my hand…more like a lure for an uninspired dog. ‘Toys.’ An interesting – and complex – subject. Whodda thunk?!

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