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Sunday, November 28, 2010
Handstands and Unseen Cues.
Damn you weather.
Well, severe weather that is.
I was so proud I was still getting tomatoes in late Nov. That is until the wind ripped the giant trellis loose and THREW it across the yard...ripping out most of the plant with it. Little unripened green tomatoes littered the ground like innocent victims. I left them hoping an animal would come along and eat them...but being as the only mammals that like to hang around are the ones I discourage I ended up going outside and being once again reminded of the windy murder..
For the most part tho, I've conquered the severe winds, or at least, learned not to panic when I see a tree defoliated in two days by having its leaves ripped off 2-3 months too soon. I now know the tree isn't dead, it will come back...it will come back. Don't panic.
the frost tho. Is my newest foe to conquer. Its unpredictable. So far. Unless I turn on my computer and go look at the weather and see the frost warning. I am blissfully ignorant until I walk outside in the morning and see it...the little ice crystals of doom on my "lawn". Then I know...I survey the yard to find the victims. Last year, it was agaves mostly. I also had a scrub that hadn't hardened off yet (still green, not bark) that got fried...this year however, since I've moved slowly away from ornamentals, and more towards food, my squash was fried. In fact, it was mush. Except for the little baby squash that was too small to harvest, stuck to the dead plant like a pathetic mammal trying to nurse from a dead mom (which is REALLY sad if you ever see that...)
enough of my bitching tho. I am not a complainer, at least I tell myself that. Its most me just stewing about what cues I haven't picked up on yet to warn me of things...It will come tho. I know it.
Chili is working on his handstand. With massive progress. We had worked on this off and on for months now...and that should be a clue...when I work on som'thing "off and on" that means generally I am doing som'thing wrong. Chili is sharp, and I am not a bad trainer, so when it takes longer than a session or two to teach som'thing...the method is off and its time to stop and figure out what to do different.
This behavior tho. I knew involved alot of muscle memory and strength. Time essentially. This trick would take time. Don't push the dog too far to fast, or you'll hurt his cute little body.
I suppose this made sense for a while, but as was hit a wall and got stuck, I think I used it as an excuse for too long. I needed to know a time frame, som'thing to compare his progress to and finally I found it.
Another trainer posted a montage of videos, here was a dog that was a blank slate, and six week or so in, she taught him 10ish tricks. Complex ones at that. Including, the holy grail, the walking handstand.
Now I had my timeframe. Nothing like seeing stuff like that to either
A. Motivate the hell out of you
B. Make you feel useless as a trainer
Luckily, I am in the "A" generally. I have a large drive to be like the people I idolize, and in general, an optimist...so now that I know the problem is ME. I now could figure out WTF I was doing wrong
I took the clicker adage to heart and went back a step. Then from that step, I broke it down into micro steps between it and the place we got stuck. Som'thing in there was incomplete. My criteria wrong, my click late, som'thing.
Within 5 mins of changing my criteria he was doing brief handstands against his platform.
Within 5 more mins, he could do it with minimal help, as in i could remove the platform and he could get into position against a bare wall
watching a dog levitate for a tenth of a second on his own is mindnumbingly exciting. I think I screamed at him. Which fortunately he likes.
the first ten of so handstands were accidents. As in, he'd do them in an attempt to balance, and would loose his footing on the books/wall. Now the criteria is intentional foot removal from the wall...one foot at a time. So far its going well...and now, our biggest enemy is fatigue.
I am reaching a point where I feel I can teach most anything...confidence swells in me.
And now, the anxiety begins, because the next step in the growth. Is taking your knowlege and giving it to others...which is new to me...and som'thing I am going to be dipping my toes into.