Well Novice camp started off with some excitement as this young lady decided she needed to lay her eggs right at the end of my opening sequence! Every year at the end of May-first week of June, the turtles come up from the pond to lay their eggs. We have two varieties, the cutie-putie type painted turtles and the sort picture here which are snapping turtles.
The snappers, luckily for us, prefer the water in our woods behind our house at it is a running creek. The dogs never go back there as the brush is pretty thick. The only worry is this time of year when they come up onto our hay field to lay eggs.
It was entertaining for all of us, as it usually is each year, but this girl wouldn’t leave us alone! John put up a snow fence to keep the dog’s away from her while she finished her job but once she was done she came up onto the agility field to get a closer look. That is when John loaded her into this wheel barrow to take her back to the woods.
After that adventure was over we all settled into have quite a great camp! It was suggested throughout camp on several occasions that “that was a gem Susan, you have to post it to your blog” so here I will leave you with one of them.
I commented to the group to not be concerned about the speed of their novice dogs. I spend a lot of time rewarding my young dogs close at my hips or “reinforcement zone” as Greg Derrett coined the phrase. In the midst of sequences I will often reward a dog for driving back to RZ. For this reason they are not all “launchy” and “powerful” when we start running courses together.
I used the example of Feature and Encore. When each of them came out most people commented on how “slow” each one looked. At Feature’s first two trials she could not get within 3 seconds of any of Encore’s times. Only a couple of weeks ago John said to me he thought she would never be as fast as Encore. Well even though that would not change how I felt about her, I was pretty sure John was wrong and she proved it last weekend at the Ontario Regionals.
You shouldn’t want your novice dogs to be frantically grabbing obstacles, squirreling around like mad. The power and the speed will come, but the time spent working on the finesse will pay off down the road. It is far easier to teach collection and thoughtfulness to your young dog before they realize they are equipped with a 400 horsepower engine and a set of Pireili tires– then after!
Today I am grateful for the improvement every dog and handler showed over the 2 days at the camp formerly known as “Novice” camp. See you all next year at “Growing the Teamwork Camp!”