Well, today was fun for me and Riot! We went down to train with Amy and John Dahl. I was really nervous because I didn't really know what we were going to be doing and how Riot would do. So we got there, chatted a little bit about what Riot could do and what we were going to spend the session doing. I watched John run a few of his dogs, mostly chessies and one golden. Then we were up. The first mark was a single. We were up on a point, dog had to run down, short swim across a channel, then up a hill, to the top, and then the bumper was on the other side of the ridge. Riot did a fabulous job with the water, when straight in and straight out. He was right on top of the bumper, but he hunted for a little. Amy decided that it was probably that he didn't know that was the thing he was looking for, considering that it was a different kind of bumper than we usually use. So we had the bird boy (girl in this case), throw another to help him out. He figured it out, picked it up, came straight back through the water. The second mark was going to be ran from the point with water again, but Amy thought he did such a great job with the water the first time, she didn't want to give him a chance to cheat on the second one. So we ran it from a different place so that it was just a land mark. This one he did nail. woohooo! Good boy! Went back and put Riot up and chatted some about how he did. Both Amy and John thought he looked great!
In fact, probably got the biggest compliment about him ever when John said that he reminded him of Connie Cleveland's Eli (who was a AFC FC OTCH). I almost fell over!!! I don't think he's that good. I mean, he's pretty cute and wonderful, but I don't think he's got quite THAT much talent.
Then I got to watch the other "trainee" run his two labs. Amy had trained them a few years back on their truck. One was having not such a good day. But I feel like I learn from everything that goes on, with my dog or any other dog, so it was good to watch how they worked out some issues. Then we got Riot back out to look at his "yard work" stuff. We were going to start force to pile, but then Amy picked up on a few more things that we needed to get straight before that, mainly, Riot's hold. We set three bumpers out spread apart like for walking fetch. Ri grabbed up the first one but then spit it right out and tried to get the second one. So Amy suggested that I back up and start working on his hold. I know that he anticipates the drop, and she could tell too. She suggested that I start doing a lot of reaching for the bumper, maybe even touching it, and then moving my hand away. Ri needs to know that the cue for his release is "drop," not just my hand moving down to his mouth. In Amy's opinion, I need to slow him down and give him more responsibility for the little things. She thinks that his drive to retrieve is high enough that, for example, if I stop every time he gets out of heel position on the way to the line, he will learn quickly that if he runs ahead, it will actually delay what he wants to do. I definitely agree. And for the spitting out of bumpers, I need to make sure that if he spits the first one out in his hurry to get to the second, then he never gets the second one until he has held the first for a while. And that is basically the homework for us this coming week. Lots of holding with distractions.
It was DEFINITELY a great experience, and I know that we will be going back. Probably not until the beginning of December just because of Thanksgiving. It was so good to have someone watching me and Riot work and giving feedback. Amy saw a lot of stuff that I don't see. So in conclusion, having a pro to work with is, IMO, a MUST for beginning amateur trainers. And it was really really good to hear that they see potential in my little Ri-butt