2017 Training Begins

The game’s afoot!

Training Plan shaping up for Ben’s UTDX test at the end of May

On the Spiritdance Tracking Community Facebook Page the members voted that our first group discussion should be about Goal Setting and developing a Training Plan for spring tests. Perfect! I can always use extra encouragement to work on my training plan.

Yesterday as a bonus I posted a link to a 50-minute presentation about goal setting. It is only part one, as we put foundations in place for a plan with a lot of meaning. When goals are tied to values, people are more likely to commit and follow through. Our values are a deep-seated part of our make-up. When we realize how achieving a goal will satisfy a core value, we want to see our plans through.

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Presentation on the Spiritdance Tracking Community Facebook page – How to set goals and reach them!

As I have been leading the group through this exercise, I came up with my own goals and matched them to my values. Of course, one of my big goals for 2017 is to pas UTDX with Ben. We made it through a half-UTDX last fall. I am hoping he will be bomb-proof in May so that we both feel more confident.  Breaking this goal down – something I will be working on is article indications. And these goals tie in well and support my values of Knowledge and Learning; Challenge; Competence and Fun (those are not all of my values, but they are the ones linked to this!)

Last weekend I was fortunate to meet up with Dan Vas, past president of the Canadian Search Dog Association, to do article searches in a heated, empty greenhouse. Ben LOVED it so much he was almost giddy as he located four articles quickly, kicking up dust in the process! And what an honour to see the CSDA dogs work too including Dan’s German Shepherd Cairo and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever owned by another member (Liz). In the photos below, Ben ran up on plant racks trying to zero in on a leather glove. I was so pleased to see his enthusiasm – and his courage in a new place. I have posted a few more photos at the end of this post of that great morning last weekend!

Today I decided to do another article search game with Ben, outside in one of his training areas. I tried to make it as fun for him as last weekend. He LOVED it again! He was all business, trotting and running on the hunt for my articles. Here is a map of the article placement (picture it white with snow!)

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This is the search area I used today, at Medicine Hat College and the order in which he round his articles. It also shows the wind direction. In order they were 1) leather 2) wool mitten 3) wood square 4) leather 5) wool sock and 6) flannel knot. I missed another sock which was above #5, and had already rewarded Ben with his toy, so I let Jet and Ted find it and have fun!

I basically walked back and forth to each area without giving hints, and let him tell me with an alert or body snap that he was in the scent pool or got wind of the article.

Click here to watch the video of Ben finding articles

I am not a perfect trainer, but I am a dedicated trainer. I am very goal-focused and I focus on progressing. I do not enter tracking tests unless I KNOW I am ready and I believe this hard training and preparation has increased my personal success rate (as we know, so many other things factor in too – but being ready is very important).

In the video you will see that Ben runs from my van away from the article area. When he turns to run back, at the 10-second in mark, he does a body snap to the leather glove up on a snowbank. He zeros in on it by 40 seconds in. From there and at a fast pace he finds the others at a rate of about one article every one and a half minutes.

The funnest one was a leather glove that I tossed into the snow on top of a random set of concrete steps just sitting in this maintenance yard. Ben knew it was there, but circling at a run. So I encouraged him to come downwind and he zeroed right in. In the stills below, you can see him approach from the downwind side and leap up to get the glove!

The hardest one to find was his flannel knot, which he usually finds very easy. It was thrown behind the tire of a big maintenance truck in the middle of four trucks. Ben ran around them and knew it was there, then finally located it. I was so happy, I think that is why I forgot about the 7th article!

Time to pose, then play!

When I realized I missed a sock, I let Jet and Ted find that sock! Jet is a Tracking Champion and 11 years old. Ted is also 11 years old and he loves finding articles (which he calls toys!). They are Ben’s sire and dam. All in all it was a fun exercise.

 

This is a small step forward as I start working towards my May UTDX goal. It was colder than I expected today, and I almost cancelled. But the beauty of goal setting is that you become responsible and accountable when you declare your goals to others!

I shared my goals in my presentation to the group on Facebook and told everyone I would be going out today to play at articles. It nagged at me, until I did do it. And you know what? I am so darn proud of myself. It only took an hour to drive there, place the articles, then run Ben. Right now I am looking at him curled in a tight ball on the couch – a happy, tired pup.

This is what coaching can do! It even motivates the coach!

Everyone is welcome to join the Spiritdance Tracking Community by clicking this link and submitting a request. For coaching purposes, I need your permission to add you to this group.

It is a training and coaching focused Facebook Page for trackers. As I grow and expand Spiritdance Motivation & Performance Coaching, this is another way I can reach out to people to share my passion for tracking AND coaching!

More photos of our Greenhouse Article Training session last weekend

Ben and I, plus Judy Wallace and her Border Collie Lark

Dan Vas and Cairo

Liz and Nia – I love this sequence! Nia realized the article was hidden in the next aisle and leaped under the plant racks!

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