Thursday, April 8, 2010

Growing pains

“This will make you a better trainer.”

That sentence has abut 279 different translations, the first and most generally accepted being: “By the time you figure out how to resolve this problem, you will have become a more resourceful, creative, compassionate trainer and you will have developed a better understanding of your dog and a better relationship with your dog so suck it up and quit whining and get to work.”

It also translates as:

1) I’ve never seen a dog do THAT.

2) Wow, you sure got a problem there.

3) What the hell are you going to do about it?

While I tried to focus on the initial translation, my mind spent a lot of time bouncing back and forth between 1, 2 and 3 as Phoenix and I worked on his out-of-sight stays issue this week. (Oh, did I say workED? I meant, workING, as in, continuing to work. Forever and ever. Amen.)

My club’s three-day obedience and rally trial starts tomorrow. I’m showing Phoenix in Open the first two days and in Graduate Open the third day. Plus showing Jamie in Veterans two days and showing both boys in Team on Saturday. Plus being trophy chairman for the whole weekend. I think my overall goal for the weekend is to be in the right ring with the right dog at the right time. Anything beyond that will be icing on the cake.

But I digress.

After Phoenix chose to leave the ring half way through the long down at the DeWitt trial last weekend, I redoubled our out-of-sight stay work. In a perfect world, I would have been able to go to a totally new environment and work stays every single day this week. Two nights of severe weather and one night of work derailed that plan. I suspect working stays outdoors during a tornado warning would be counter-productive. We did manage to work stays in several “strange” places where Phoenix had to think about his job. There were corrections. There were rewards. There were successes. We’ll build on that and keep moving forward.

I’m looking forward to showing Nix this weekend because A) we can work stays tonight during set-up at the site (not in the ring but close enough) B) there are matches both Friday and Saturday night after the trial C) my friends can help me with him throughout the weekend D) overall, it will be a great opportunity to work on the problem in the context where it occurs: trials.

I know it’s only Thursday but have a great weekend everyone!

PS. Layla's mom: e-mail me at if you want to and we'll talk about heeling!


  1. Sounds like a a busy weekend. When I took classes I liked working long stays because it was a change to gab with my friends!

  2. Maybe a different way to look at it is that you'll have a better understanding of how others feel when dealing with this issue. I think it's hard to truly understand if you haven't had the problem yourself. You might find yourself wondering, 'why don't they just train their dog', when they actually are. By working through these issues with your own dog, you may have some unique ideas for the person that has a similar problem.