Monday, May 7, 2012

Commenting on comments

You guys have left some great comments on recent posts. Thank you! I know I am not alone when it comes to working through training issues with a wonderful dog. Phoenix has taught me to appreciate the mental aspect of obedience work (for both handler and dog . . . and I mean how our brains work, not becoming mental!) much more than any of my previous dogs - they were wired differently and allowed me to focus on the technical aspects of training with pretty much casual disregard to everything else. There is nothing casual about Phoenix.

I loved all your comments and here are a couple of my favorites:

• This is one thing that confuses me about many of today’s trainers, that they automatically assume that if someone has to work thru an issue with their dog, the dog must under a lot of stress or even being abused. If that were true, the only dogs who could get titles would be . . . the ones we don’t have to spend the long hours driving home thinking about what we are going to try next. Kathy Kail

Boy, ain’t that the truth. Speed bumps in training are normal. Very few people sail through a dog’s career without hitting one or two. Darn things, they have a way of taking over one’s life, although I’m getting better at accepting them as simply the problem du jour. Although I’d love to train a dog some day and NOT find something major to screw up, chances of that happening are pretty slim and I know it. Plus, I firmly believe each dog comes into our life to teach us something. Phoenix is making up for lost time -  apparently Jess, Connor and Jamie were slackers! And besides, what else would I spend my time thinking about if it weren’t for obedience training? My mind would be a vast, empty void. No . . . wait . . .

• I do not remember there being a deadline. Tammy Taylor

I love this! Deadlines are a big deal in my job and I admit to being very deadline oriented. By X date, X must be achieved. It’s easy to put stupid amounts of pressure on myself. Plus I live in the heart of “Go from Novice to OTCh. in 12 trials” country. Seriously. Not saying ALL trainers do that but enough of them do it that I catch myself thinking, “I’ve been showing this dog for X months, why aren’t we further along?” Then I do a mental slap - NEVER compare your dog to anyone else's. I don’t care how long it takes!

• It’s funny, I started off with a correction-based training, moved toward balanced training (correct when you’re 100 percent sure dog knows) to total motivational training (stop working if dog doesn’t work, making him choose to work, engagement, etc).” Wild Dingo

Amen, sister! This has been one of the biggest things Phoenix has taught me. It’s been a huge thing for me to overcome - the mind-set that says, I taught him how to do it, and he knows how to do it, so since he’s not doing it, I must correct him and make him do it. Hmmm . . . it’s been a freakin’ obedience renaissance at our house in the last year.

And finally, this has nothing to do with dog training. Our back porch door has not closed properly for some time. This is probably due to the Belgians’ habit of opening it themselves, including once when I was fairly sure Phoenix took some of the door frame with him (no kidding, little pieces of metal went flying). Since that day they have decided they can, indeed, wait for me to open the door and no one will die in the .5 seconds it takes me to perform this highly complex feat.

Anyway, the Farmer fixed the door over the weekend. Now it doesn’t close at all. No wonder the dogs love him so much.

1 comment:

  1. If we didn't have to work hard and overcome stuff to earn these titles, I honestly don't think it would be half so rewarding as it is.

    I recently returned from a 10 day road trip where my dog finished her Junior Hunter title, earned her first CD leg in Novice A, and then earned her Tracking Dog title. The JH took no training at all - just careful exposure to birds and gunfire. It was a given, given her genes, that she would get that title with high scores. The TD took some training - mostly the article indication - but she has a high drive to track. The CD, that was 95% training. Sure, I was smiling after she got her JH, and after the TD, I was really happy we'd accomplished all 3 of our goals. But at the end of the long down, I was in tears! And that was just the first leg, not even a title! Granted, it was also her first attempt, and she worked really well for me (even got compliments from the Utility B people!), and we didn't have a ton of problems to overcome to get there (thank you Susan Garrett!), but still - if it doesn't come easy, it's so much sweeter when you do accomplish the goal.