Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " free content "

Training in Ten Minutes, Episode #1

If you’re one of those people who, while at work all day, dreams about what you will do with your dogs when you get home, only to find that the time you had slips away from you between chores, children, spouses, and the other little necessities of life, then you’re not alone! In this article, following the Bob Bailey motto of “Think, Plan, Do”, I’ll outline plans for skills that you can train in ten minutes or less, so that you can find the time you didn’t think you had to train your dogs!

Originally posted in Clean Run Magazine as part of a series titled “The 10-minute Trainer”, this episode goes through the step by step process of teaching your dog how to love the table. Take a look, have a listen, enjoy, and…Happy Training!

In this post, we’re going to spend our ten minutes working on an obstacle that is often overlooked….the table. Personally, I find that spending my time working on fast sits and downs on the table is pretty boring, and of course, since I don’t find it exciting, my dogs don’t either! I do, however, want my dogs to perform any behavior that they can do on the ground on the table, and with equal zest and speed. So, I want to do a lot of fun things that revolve around the table. And, it turns out that the table can also be a great piece of conditioning equipment.

Just spending time doing a variety of activities with the table, even if it is in my living room, will help bring the table up in value in my dogs’ minds. Ask yourself – have you given your dog the same amount of cookies or toy play as reinforcement for activities revolving around the table as you have for the weave poles or the contacts?

For most of us, the answer is probably no. There’s a reason many of our dogs gravitate toward contacts and not the table – think of the ratio of cookies spent on the contacts vs. the table! The following exercises are just some suggestions of how you might spend 10-minutes with your dog building value for the agility pause table without ever even working on a sit or a down position on the table itself. Enjoy!

 

Jump UP

Your dog may have no hesitation in getting up on the table when he has a good amount of space and can run toward it with some speed. But, will your dog jump UP to get on the table if he is close to it, with no motion involved? This exercise can serve double duty: helping to eliminate refusals your dog might incur for failure to jump up on the table when he gets close to it, and helping to condition and strengthen those muscles needed to jump UP.

 

  1. Start your dog standing near the table, with his nose so close to the edge of the table that he is touching it, or hanging his head over the table. You may have to take some time to get your dog comfortable being on the ground so close to the table; many experienced dogs will try to jump up on the table from a distance further away, where they can use horizontal momentum to get up on the table, rather than vertical lift.
  2. Once you’ve got your dog close to the table (perhaps munching away happily on some treats you’ve got in your hand), move your hand up and away, so that your dog has to jump UP on to the table to get back to your treats. You can coax your dog however you like – waggle the treats in front of his nose, encourage him verbally, or even push him back a bit to make the treats seem even more enticing, but the goal here is to have your dog jump up on the table from a location very close to the table.
  3. Once your dog jumps up on the table, praise him heavily, and of course don’t forget to give him some treats! But, save that last treat, because you’re going to toss it OFF the table so that your dog follows it.
  4. Most dogs will eat that last cookie and turn around instantly to try to get back on the table again. Make sure you’ve got yet another treat ready to go to keep your dog on the ground til he is quite close to the table, and then repeat the process again from step 1.

 

Jump DOWN

Jumping up on the table from a location close to the table itself is one thing. Jumping back DOWN is yet another. Of course I wouldn’t do this on any sort of slippery surface, and I will take care to make sure that my dog is safe. But, once my dog is up on the table, I can also place cookies close to the base of the table, on the ground, and release my dog off the table to get those cookies. This can be a useful activity for those with larger or more enthusiastic dogs that tend to push off the table horizontally when released, with such force that they knock the table back, causing it to slip out from under them.

 

Back UP

In AKC, the dog must come off the table with all four feet in order to be faulted. On more than one occasion, I’ve been glad that I’ve played this game with my dogs on the table! Occasionally, my dogs have miscalculated their speed on approach to the table (or I’ve miscued how much speed they should have), and have hit the table only to slip off again. But, thanks in part to this game, they know how to avoid coming off entirely, and can actually back themselves up on to the table. Be advised, this is a great conditioning exercise, but it also requires a great deal of strength – so start with a low table to start, and go from there. It also requires that your dog have some experience with targeting objects with his rear legs, or that he know how to back up.

  1. Start your dog on the ground, facing you, with the table behind him. It’s helpful to start by sitting on the ground yourself, so that your dog can focus his head down, which will make it easier for his rear to go up.
  2. Move in to your dog’s space, or ask him to back up, or, if he’s comfortable with it, physically place his rear legs on the table. If your dog is reluctant to do this but does know how to back up, you can soften the edges of the table with a towel, pillow, or blanket. Many dogs don’t want to hit their rear legs on a solid surface.
  3. Once your dog has his rear legs on the table, reward low, between his front legs, so that he has to look down to get his treat. And then, move in to his space again, and reward for any movement backwards that results in more of your dog’s body being on the table.
  4. Once your dog is on the table completely, give lots of treats and praise, toss a cookie off the table to get your dog back on the ground, and start over again!

With this exercise, I purposefully don’t lure my dog forward in to a two on/two off position on the table, because I don’t really want him trying to drive forward to such a position. And of course, I’ll make sure that I’m not doing too much of this activity. As with all other exercises, moderation is the key. What I really want is for my dog to get as few cookies as possible with this exercise, until his whole body is on the table, and then, he will get a LOT of cookies.

 

Wicket/Measuring Table Games

At some point or another, probably sooner rather than later, your dog is going to have to be up on an agility table, at a trial, OUTSIDE the ring, in order to be measured. So, in anticipation of this, include some measuring games in your table training repertoire. For this game, use a hula hoop cut in half, or a homemade measuring wicket made out of three short pieces of PVC and a couple of 90-degree PVC elbows. With your dog on the table, do the following:

  • Click and treat for your dog looking at the wicket
  • Click and treat for your dog moving his head toward the wicket
  • Click and treat for your dog ducking under the wicket

In each of the above cases, click for attention or movement toward the wicket, and then deliver your cookie such that the dog has to continue to move toward or duck his head under/through the wicket to get his cookie.

 

With your wicket, you can also reward your dog for:

  • Picking up the wicket in his mouth
  • Allowing you to touch his topline or any part of his body with the wicket
  • Passing the wicket above the length of his body
  • Resting the wicket on his shoulders while feeding him

Table Tricks

In addition to the activities above, there are many tricks that I teach my dog on the ground that I might also do on the table. For some of these tricks, marked with an asterisk (*), performing them on the table adds an added element of strength and coordination, depending on the stability of your table. But for all of these tricks, teach your dog how to do them on the ground first!

  • Sit Pretty or Beg (*)
  • Touch your nose with your paw (*)
  • Stand up on your hind legs (*)
  • Stand up and lift up one of your rear legs (*)
  • Stand up and lift up BOTH of your rear legs (*)
  • Put a toy in a small box
  • Take a toy out of a small box
  • Stack one food bowl inside another
  • Bark
  • Wave (*)
  • Lay down with your chin on the table
  • Lay down with your paws curled over the edge of the table
  • Down to sit
  • Sit to stand
  • Tug on a toy (*)
  • Hand Targeting

You can make this list even longer with the tricks that you’ve taught your own dog. Some tricks, of course, are not appropriate to do on the table, such as backing up, or rolling over, for obvious reasons. And you can see that on my list, a simple “sit” and “down” aren’t really even included.

 

In Conclusion

Of course, I do teach my dogs to maintain a down position on the table until I say my release word. And, I do a lot of exciting gyrations when they’re in a down stay on the table to see if, in a playful way, I can entice them to come off the table. When they do make the mistake of coming off of the table, however, because I have done all of the above activities on the table with them, they are typically quick to get back on the table. And, when they mistakenly come off, all of my gyrations stop suddenly, and I become far less interesting. Then, when they do hop back on the table, I’m quick to reinforce in their minds that the table is a really fun place to be! So much of the rest of an agility course can be so much fun for the dogs that some time spent specifically making the table a fun place to be is time well spent – and it takes very little time and space to do it.

 

Sit or down on a table should just be one of many things your dogs might do to earn a cookie while they’re up there. And, like any other behavior you might ask your dog to do as a trick on the table, sit and down should be viewed as a trick – cued with a smile on your face and praise at the ready!

 

Until next time,

Happy Training!

 

 

The 4 Key Elements To Getting Great Feedback On Your Videos

Podcast18-02-23-2014

Although I've written on this topic before, I wanted to record a podcast for those of you who are on the go, listening in your car, or maybe even on your way to the training space where you'll be recording your next video for submission in the Online Classroom for feedback!

So, listen on, and learn about the 4 KEY ELEMENTS TO GETTING GREAT FEEDBACK ON YOUR VIDEOS!

Play

Resources for you to try:

A wide angle lens will help you get all of your training on film.

 

Every online student should have a tripod!

Clean Run Course Designer is a must have for any of Daisy’s classes. Foundation for agility, Precision Handling, Blind Crosses, Rear Crosses, Awesome Paws Skills Drills, and even Running Contacts classes make use of CRCD diagrams. You can get a free viewer OR purchase your very own copy of CRCD by clicking on the image at left. It’s a must have for any agility enthusiast, though, so we encourage you to purchase a copy. Works on PCs and on Apple Macs.

 


Getting great feedback as a participant

Objective

Getting great video feedback starts with submission of a great video! The following tips will help your long distance instructor give you the best feedback possible, whether that instructor is me, another instructor in my online classroom, or an instructor in another online classroom. Let’s get started!

Dress Appropriately

It may seem strange that you’d need to dress appropriately for something you’re just heading out to do in your back yard, but the clothes that you wear can affect the quality of the feedback your instructor can give you. If you want your instructor to be able to comment on your movements around the course with your dog, make sure that your movements can be seen. Wear bright colors that contrast with the background; for example, if you’re working on a dirt surface, you don’t want to be wearing brown pants, or your instructor won’t be able to see your legs! If you’re working on grass, avoid wearing green. And ALWAYS avoid wearing black, since it makes your body very difficult to observe on the screen.

In my videos, I make the effort to wear bright colors such as red, or blue. It’s not just because I’m patriotic! I also try to wear clothing that has stripes or other features on it. For example, in many of my videos, I’m wearing a pair of athletic pants that have white stripes down the leg. These white stripes make it easier to see the angle of my legs as I move. And, I tend to wear tops that are either brightly colored and/or have stripes on them as well, so you can see my shoulders and arms better.

I try to wear clothing that is not lumpy or loose. Not only is it difficult for me to run in loose lumpy clothing, but it makes it difficult for an observer to even tell if they’re looking at my front or my back end! Even if I might not feel entirely comfortable in snug fitting clothing, I know that to an observer watching my videos, snug clothing is going to make it easier to see my body, and how it’s moving.

Make sure you’re lit appropriately

You might not have complete control over the lighting in your videos, but you can at least avoid some of the more common pitfalls that make videos difficult to view with respect to lighting.

  • Avoid backlighting  situations. If you’re inside a barn or building, and there’s an open door, wall, or window, and the light is streaming in through it from outside, avoid pointing your camera in that direction. If your camera is pointed toward bright light coming through the middle of a solid wall (i.e. a door, or window to the outside), then anything that is in between that light source and your camera is going to show up as a black outline, and no matter how brightly dressed you are, your instructor is going to have a hard time seeing any of your physical details. Put that bright source of light, the door, window, etc., BEHIND your camera.
  • Film when the sun is high in the sky. You might not have complete control over when you get to do your training, but whenever possible, avoid dim conditions, such as sunrise and sunset. Not only is the sun lower in the sky at these times, providing less light, but the angle of the light from the sun can lead to “flat” conditions, making it difficult for your instructor to figure out the spacing between obstacles in your set up.
  • Point your camera away from the sun. Whether the sun is low or high, if you’re filming outside, be sure to put the sun behind your camera, instead of in front of it.
  • Check for lens flares. Set up your camera where it’s going to be for your video, and film a short clip. Walk around in that clip. Check to see that you’re visible, and that there are no flares of light in the film, caused by light refracting inappropriately in your camera lens.

 

Film from a good angle

One of the biggest problems with trying to give feedback  on videos is that it can be difficult to determine the spacing between the obstacles in your set up. Filming from a good angle can greatly determine the quality of the feedback you receive.

  • Film from above. If at all possible, film from a height that is above your own height. If your camera is too low, it is going to be difficult for your instructor to see the whole sequence.
  • Film at an angle. If you’ve got your camera set up so that it is pointed straight through the obstacles, your instructor will have a hard time perceiving any depth to  your video. Film at an angle that allows all of the obstacles to be seen, with some perspective, so your instructor can get a feel for the distances between obstacles, and their spatial relationship to one another.
  • Filming from directly overhead. While this may seem like a good idea, and while it can really show your lines of motion nicely, it doesn’t allow for your instructor to see fine details of your handling. A slight angle is better than directly overhead.
  • Shoot from the same angle as your instructor. If your instructor has provided video examples, film your own attempts from the same angle. Plan out how you’ll set up your course and where you’ll put your camera to accomplish this. If you shoot from a different angle than your instructor, the course will not look familiar. Remember that your instructor is watching the videos of several other people, in all likelihood. And, if your instructor has provided video examples, the angle that they shot at is probably the angle that allows for communication of the important aspects of that sequence, so try to mimic their footage if at all possible, with respect to the angle and the set up.

 

Here are some examples of different camera angles. Which ones do you think allow you to tell what the sequence is?

flat camera angle

This camera angle is too low – you can’t even see all the obstacles! It’s not a great angle for getting great feedback!

flat camera angle 2

This camera angle is a little higher, and you can see all the obstacles, but it’s difficult to get any sense of perspective for the obstacles (their relationship to one another in space). Again, it’s better, but not a great angle.

even better camera angle 4

This camera angle is a little higher, AND at an angle to the exercise. It’s easier to get a feel for how far away obstacles are from the camera and each other, here.

 top-camera-angle-5

This camera angle is from nearly directly above. It’s a great angle for seeing your movement through the course, and for seeing the spatial relationship of all the obstacles. However, it may be difficult for your instructor to see the finer details of your handling.

The last two images above are the best angles to choose from, if you can, because they offer the best view of the sequence. In my videos, these are the angles I try to shoot from.

Again, if possible, shoot from a similar vantage point to that of any demo videos your instructor has provided, so that your instructor can compare your handling to that of their own.

 

Edit Edit Edit

So you’ve shot your footage. You were wearing the right clothes, you had great lighting, your camera was set at a great angle, and now, you need to edit your footage for submission to your instructor. Here are some tips to help you with editing.

  • Get rid of unnecessary footage. Edit out any footage of you taking your dog to the start line, playing with your dog, etc. If you’re  not doing the exercise with your dog, your instructor doesn’t need to see the footage. Get rid of empty frames (frames where you and your dog aren’t even in the view of the camera! Unless your instructor asks to see footage of you playing with your dog, etc., don’t include it.
  • Include just a couple attempts. In general, two attempts at each exercise are sufficient, unless your instructor specifically asks for more. If you include try after try after try, your instructor is not going to know which attempt to comment on and will start skimming through your video.
  • No slow motion. Again, unless your instructor specifically asks for it, no slow motion. Your instructor can slow down playback on his/her own if necessary.
  • No music. Part of your handling is your verbal cues. Your instructor needs to hear this. Don’t cover it up with music.
  • No fancy titles or transitions. Just the basics. Label each attempt so your instructor knows what figure he/she is looking at, particularly if you shot it at a different angle than the example footage. And stick to fade or cross dissolve for your transitions. No bubbles or stars necessary 🙂
  • Keep it short. You’re likely to get better feedback if you’ve got a succinct video. Videos that are two  minutes long or less will keep the attention of your instructor better. It’s not that your instructor doesn’t want to pay attention, but 2-3 minutes is better than 10 minutes or even 5 minutes, for keeping the focus and attention of anybody observing your footage. It’s just human nature, and if your instructor has several videos to go through, it’s likely that he/she is going to skim through only 2-3 minutes of your video in any case, to pull material from for feedback.
  • Don’t shoot for perfect! You don’t need to include your BEST attempts. If you’re going to include two attempts, include your best and your worst. This is about feedback on what you can’t do, not just kudos for what you can do! If you nail an exercise, you nailed it, but your instructor won’t be able to give much feedback other than congratulations! On the other hand, if you tried an exercise 10 times, and had a similar error each time, just include footage of that error once, and then use editing to make a quick note that this one time is representative of how it went for you 9 other times.

 

All these editing guidelines will produce a video that may seem boring to watch – but remember, you’re not making this video to be clever, or to produce an emotion from the viewer, or to highlight you and your dog to the world. This video is for feedback from your instructor! Be greedy, and get the best quality feedback you can from your instructor, by keeping editing distractions to a minimum. And, if you want to make a more interesting video, with music or fun edits, go for it! Make a second version for the general public, and save your feedback version for your instructor.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, these guidelines will help you get the best feedback possible on videos you submit in the course of an online learning experience. Again, these guidelines might not produce the fanciest or flashiest video, but they WILL help you produce a video that will be more likely to get you the great feedback you’re looking for, which will in turn help you improve your handling and training, and get the most bang for your online learning buck!

If you'd like to download this article as a PDF file:

adobepdf

How to get great video feedback

Interested in more?

If you’re not currently a student in my Online Classroom, take a look at what’s offered here!