Reflections on Summer Camp

Ice at the Hotel

The hotel is in a great location next to the Willamette River and the Clackamette Park.  Ice really enjoyed his early morning and evening walks down by the river.  In the park we came across a Skunk, which fortunately Ice decided to leave alone.  From the hotel it’s an easy drive to Daisy’s place.

We had an interrupted first night at the hotel.  Ice was very sensitive to unfamiliar noises and decided his response should be to woof and alert me.  This must have happened 5 or 6 times throughout the night – I lost count and as a result I was pretty tired on the first day of camp.  The second night was much better, maybe only 2 interruptions and on the third night I think he went all the way through without any woofs which was a relief.

Camp setup

This year the back 30 feet of the agility arena were reserved for crating and this meant I didn’t need to erect my shade tent.  Ice was pretty good in his crate, I could easily leave him for a couple of hours without him thinking he’d been abandoned.

Camp logistics, the facilities, instructors, lunch, evening seminars were all excellent.  Last year camp was held in August and it was too hot for Sky.  This year camp was in late June and ordinarily this would have been perfect agility weather for the Poodles, but not this year.  Thanks to an El Niño it was even hotter this year than last year and as a result I did not attempt to work Ice in the afternoon on the two days we were outside.

What did we learn

Ice’s performance is affected by changes in environment – but not as much as I had thought or expected.

Ice came across some distractions that he had not seen before, for example, Chickens adjacent to the agility field was definitely something new.  Also, although Ice is familiar with Cats he had no idea how to react to a Cat which did not run away from him.  He tried barking but that didn’t make the Cat run so eventually he moved on.

I think the most valuable take away I got came on the third day from Daisy.  Basically, Ice lacks confidence and he needs constant reward markers that what he is doing is the correct thing.  Once I started praising every correctly performed obstacle Ice’s confidence and consequently speed and focus increased significantly.

We were in the Novice/Starters group and as a result spent a lot of time working foundation skills.  Thanks to Foundation Flatwork online class and the Fun and Focus series of classes at Dogs World it became clear that Ice has some solid foundation skills.  Ice is aware of his body and knows how to maneuver it, collecting and bending when necessary.  It will be interesting to see how well Ice retains these skill once he has more confidence and is moving a yard/second quicker.  Compared to Sky, Ice is like a gymnast.  Sky on the other hand is a sprinter – quick in a straight line but reluctant to hit the brakes and collect.

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