Tuesday, September 20, 2011

OJTI and Greasing the Brain

I returned to work after my maternity leave two weeks ago. It was both pleasant and exhausting. I've been fortunate enough to get a chance to exclusively stay at home with my son for 7 months. It's been a great time but I was ready to get back to reality and start my life as a working mom.

Upon my return I was thrown right onto a two week course to become an On Job Training Instructor, or OJTI as my abbreviation happy profession calls it. I enjoy training horses and dogs so getting a paid course on how to train people on the job was a fun insight and experience. Many interesting lectures and also some roleplaying exercises. No one can become an Air Traffic Controller without putting in the hours on the job and it's the same with being an instructor. The roleplaying was valuable and often amusing but I know that the real learning experience will come if I sit with a student as his or her instructor.

First, however, I must myself sit down as a student. Returning to work after nine months away means I'm not let loose in the centre on my own just yet! Thankfully, I must add. I feel very much like someone who was in peak form but hasn't exercised for months... I'm out of breath just going out! I'm awfully slow but with every hour I put in I can feel my brain tracing down old knowledge and starting to shape up. It's just this awful feeling of knowing I've been better that bothers me... and motivates me. I'm sure this won't take too long!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Agility Session 2

Tonight's training session proved to be better as I had hoped for. Bella started out pulling at the leash and being overexcited but after I jogged around the area once she was calmer and not making a sound.

The focus was already better but when we started trying to work more off-leash Bella started running for the other two dogs (we were still only 3). First it was friendly but then a familiar spiral of dog-aggression started which ended in an almost-fight before she came back to me. After that she was much more focused, maybe because I decided to use whatever feelings I had on the training and being firm and decisive.

Bella was often easily distracted but I found out that what she needed was for me to be quicker. I can safely say that I was dripping with sweat after the one hour session! The faster I was able to go and give commands, the better Bella ran the obstacles.

She had one more run-in with the Chihuahua she tried to attack earlier and before I knew it he was on his back and Bella frozen on top of him. The bullied turns into a bully! Poor guy was terrified of her after that. In spite of that I was pleased with the session itself. I hope that Bella will relax even more next time.

Unfortunately I'm still a bit of a mess, my left hip-leg joint is still really owwie after I run, especially with all the sprinting, stopping, sprinting and twisting my body and turning while running. It's a sign I need to return back to the gym and do lots of squats and strengthening excercises. I refuse to accept that a single pregnancy will ruin my ability to sprint and run.

 Finally, I was extremely pleased to be able to use dog food as treats tonight. We recently changed to the Canadian Orijen brand of food and use one type as her normal food and also bought a sack of fish-food for treats. Bella loves fish and lobster so we figured it might work as treats. I love the idea of normal food for treats and so far so good.

Agility and Socialization

Autumn is setting in and this time around I'm really looking forward to it. Today's weather is stormy and raining and Bella doesn't want to be outside more than she needs to be. At least not on her own.

Two weeks ago I started an agility training course with her.  Unfortunately last week's session had to be cancelled but we're heading back tonight for more. When we showed up Bella was very tense and on edge and couldn't stop staring at the other two dogs, a Chihuahua and a Papillion. Towards the end things were getting better and I'm curious about what tonight will be like.

Yesterday we did get an unexpected few minutes of agility training. I took Bella to a small breeds dog exhibition where the instructor of our agility course was present as a part of an agility introduction. I had the only dog at the time and Bella surprised me by giving me her full attention. That was great! Even my fiancé who was present had a change of heart about Bella's chance of success in this sport.

The small breeds exhibition was a fun event. I went to one last year and Bella started by barking her lungs out before finally calming down a little. This time around I had prepared for another barking session and as we walked into the building she was filing her claws trying to pull me in faster. In we went and surprise, she remained alert but calm. No barking, no silly behaviour. Hurray!

I've become better at seeing when to stop an encounter with other dogs and when it's alright to allow them to meet up. I have had to be very picky because Bella has had some unpleasant encounters and I'm trying to socialise her to stop the insecurity. There was only one bad run-in which happened to be with Bella's full sister from an older litter. Owned by my colleague who says hers is Border Terrier aggressive. No harm done it was just a bit of growling that quickly subsided. After the event Bella hadn't barked once. I'm so proud of her!