First, my apologies for so much text and so few pics lately. I love blogs with pics. I love seeing pics of other people's dogs, homes, cats, flowers, etc. Maybe it’s because I’d rather look at pictures than read words. But I have a lot of words in my head and if I don’t let them out they just keep rattling around and bugging me.
Remember a few weeks back when I said I was going to abandon Phoenix’s auto down on the table and teach an auto sit instead because there didn’t seem to be any consistency with his apparently non-existent auto down at trials and I didn’t think he understood what I wanted?
So we spent a week working on teaching an auto sit every single day and darned if that crazy dog didn’t do a perfect splat auto down on the table every single stinkin’ time in spite of me signaling and telling him to sit. That tells me the auto down program is embedded in his brain and is going to be really hard to override. I’m just failing to get the auto down reliably in trials, probably due to the stress of the moment . . . so we’ll keep after it. My goal is NOT to create any more confusion than I already have.
Phoenix and I went outside to work the directed retrieve one morning this week and wouldn’t you know it, there was only one glove in my bag. Lots of toys. One glove. Story of my life.
So what the heck, I put out two toys and a glove in the directed retrieve pattern. It’s a retrieve, right? What could be more fun that fetching a toy?
Lined him up, did the turn, marked him to Glove (Toy) #1, sent him, watched him race out, look at the toy, look at Glove #2 (which actually was a glove), change his mind, fetch the glove and race back like there was no doubt in his mind. “Gotta get a glove, not a stinkin’ toy. Get in trouble for fetching stinkin' toys when we’re WORKING.”
Oh, the mind of the malinois. It took some convincing to help him understand YES I REALLY DO WANT WHATEVER I MARK YOU TO, EVEN IF IT’S A TOY. I may play this game again and use a shoe, small garden tool, etc. Apparently, I thought I had trained a directed retrieve when in reality, I had trained a glove retrieve.
No doubt the above confusion stemmed from some retrieve proofing I’d been doing by scattering toys around and then having Phoenix retrieve his dumbbell. He’d been corrected for wigging off and grabbing a toy instead of the dumbbell that had been thrown, so in his mind, toys on the ground in the context of training were something to avoid.
I’m learning to think like a dog. It means I have to stop thinking like a human. Amazingly, that’s not hard to do.
Our Utility work continues fairly intensely, since I’d really like to go straight from the last CDX leg this fall straight into the Utility ring. Of course, I’d LIKE a lot of things but I’m thinking positively here and doing everything I can to be prepared. Nix and I have the basic concepts. What we don’t have yet is the polish, animation and confidence that makes a performance both enjoyable to participate in and to watch. I don’t want to go into the ring “for real” without that.
The “more funner” approach to obedience continues and I’m working to incorporate Bridget’s Carlson’s theory of “over training,” which essentially means asking for more speed, enthusiasm and overall general performance in training because if your dog stresses down in the ring, you’ll lose part of that energy but still turn in a great performance.
This is hard for me because I tend to focus on smoothness and efficiency in training without getting too crazy. But Phoenix likes crazy so crazy it is. Besides, it’s as close as I’ll ever get to an aerobics class.
It’s been hotter than heck here lately. Dew points are in the tropical range, which means if you do anything more intense than breathing outdoors, sweat pours off you in buckets. We’ve been training for about 10 minutes before breakfast in the morning, then try to get another session in the evening. I really, really, really can’t wait for fall and cooler weather. Did I mention I am not a big fan of hot weather?