Friday, April 12, 2013

Welcome to my OCD world

My previous dogs spoiled me. Once they learned the obedience exercises, they retained them, seemingly with little regard to how often we worked them. In training, we worked the exercises we both enjoyed, gave the rest a passing acknowledgment, went in the ring and had fun. The neglected exercises were rarely a problem. Jess, Connor and Jamie just DID them and did them well.

Spoiled. Stinking. Rotten.

Then came Phoenix. 

Payback’s a . . . well, you get the picture.

If Phoenix doesn’t get equal time on ALL the exercises on a regular basis, he handily forgets how to do them in the ring.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I know he hasn’t forgotten how to do them. But the weak parts get weaker and things get ugly fast. Absence does not make the broad jump grow fonder. Or something like that.

The problem, as usual, is me. There are some exercises I love to train (heeling, scent articles, directed jumping) and some exercises that bore me to tears (moving stand, drop on recall). So guess which exercises I teach and then cheerfully neglect as much as possible?

Finally I sat down and made the following list:

1) every exercise in Open and Utility

2) our weak spots on each exercise

3) ideas to address those weak spots in training

 Example: Drop on recall; slow response to drop command and slow return after drop;  work drops out of motion, cookie toss game, work recalls out of a drop.

I printed out my list, wrote the week’s dates on top and stuck it on the refrigerator. Each time Phoenix and I went to train, I picked 2 or 3 exercises and that’s what we worked. At the end of the session, I put a hash mark beside the exercises we had worked. At the end of the week (or two weeks or whatever) I could see what was getting more than its share of attention and what was getting neglected.

Yeah, my OCD is showing. But having it in front of me in black and white keeps me from conveniently ignoring some exercises and going overboard on others. 

It’s old school, using pen on paper. There’s probably a computer program or app out there to track the very same thing but I want that list right in front me, staring at me while I wash dishes and get snacks.

Bring on the broad jump.


  1. Can I borrow your idea? I'm trying to get my Chesapeake ready for Open, and I seem to fall into the same trap. I like to work some exercises more than others and unfortunately it was pretty clear during a fun match. Back to pen on paper, to borrow your great idea.

  2. Funny, a friend of mine was just telling me her first agility dog was really easy. She went in the ring and Qed alot. Then her next dog was hard. Qing is not easy and she had no idea how hard agility could be. She wishes her first dog was the hard one because she thinks that having the easy dog first has made her more frustrated now in training.

  3. Great idea! I may need to borrow it. I love lists...that is likely my OCD tendencies.

  4. Wow. You probably even practice sits and downs, in spite of their monumental boringness. I'm still in the Utility A phase of working on whatever happens to be broken this week.

  5. Hum....sounds like it's time to use that 'dry eraser board', (That someone got your for Christmas)and attach it to your fridge!!! VBG