Wednesday, August 3, 2016



An Aha moment....Also known as "pay attention you dumb human". Working from home, to stick close for my Ffire, who is about to burst and deliver pups soon....killing time. Thinking too much as always :) thinking can be good though, especially if you realize good stuff to help your training with pups. 

So, in the morning before the day gets busy, I usually do some training with at least two, often four of the dogs. I pick a Couple skills and focus on that. 

Teg has been making progress. I love this pup, independent nature and all. She is not an easy pup, a mixture of strong and sensitive. Loves to create and repeat patterns, less inclined to repeat or love those I am asking of her-except on stock. Last weekend, she worked in 90F+ heat on goats, some really good stuff. It was sticky-humid heat. No quit. In agility, I don't think she sees the sense of it. She isn't ams connected to agility, as she is to stock work. So, I am making agility a big game of chase, tug, high level of rewards...always! She is a perfect example of how R+ training is not only useful, but kind. It is helping her to make positive associations, while also making it her idea-which any offered behavior that is reinforced, is that much stronger than one we "create".

One of my AHa's with her today...I missed doing Early play retrieves. Not sure why I skipped it, but I did. We did lots of tug and early exposure to other stuff, but arriving at 12 weeks, I think I focused more on the out and about socialization-just in case. Of course, she loves all-man and beast, friendliest pup ever. 

But, I missed teaching a retrieve when she was young and more open, so dumb of me. The biggest and fastest way to build a bond with a dog, is to build the game of retrieve. It is a building block for so much else...I know this, and yet I skipped it. Also, with Ffin too. Maybe it was the crushing sadness of having recently lost my Dad. I wasn't feeling playful. Trudging along through training, but not joyful. A seminar I went to last week, has re-inspired me to play more, train more, enjoy more. I, like my dogs don't like to be dissected or yelled at, for what should be a Fun game. Agility is just another trick as says Silvia Trkman. So, giving myself atta girl's for successes, and ignoring mistakes. 

It has been hot, it is summer. I have several things set up in my large basement, on rubber mats-teeter, two planks on table with hoops to start running contacts, some jumps, set of weaves, tunnel, etc. I have been practicing with Ffin & Teg at ring rentals too.....ALL INDOORS!! Why caps? Because, duh..Context! My AHA today, was outdoors to both, means run like crazy, run with the other dogs, explore new places or control stuff that moves. Outdoors doesn't really mean much about *Me* to these two younger pups. We do have good recalls, but, it is a missing chink in our foundation, to work on. 

So, this morning we started a new plan, outside!! I set up a 4 jump straight grid with low bars, and tunnel at far end. I am happy to say that an indoor training session from the other morning, carried over to outside. There were many things I needed to work on, as focus with so many distractions outside is hard for both. all started with a game. One that is rewarding to them. I used to always train outside and have class and trials outside. That is rare up here in New England. Such a different context for the pups...AHA!!

Teg has not loved the tunnel, I believe because she loses the ability to control/keep things in sight for that brief moment and possibly some body sensitivity. I don't judge her for it, just trying to figure it out. Ffin has been a great help for being aware of context too. I have been trying to build commitment/drive in Teg for the tunnel and it has been a work in progress. 

A couple mornings ago, while it poured outside...we trained indoors. I set both up in sit waits and released to the tunnel. If both drove through, they each got a poor hands. If only Ffin drove through, I held Teg off the toy and tugged madly with him. She is a competitive soul...this pissed her off (to put a human emotion on it) to have a valuable resource kept from her. Very quickly, I was able to back further and further away to about 15-20' and send...running for them to catch up, each to tug. It worked! :)

My goal is not for perfection right now with my pups, it is for feeling a connection and building a love of the games-together. I will work with each, every day that is possible outside, trusting them to start to learn that I am part of that picture too. I think the primary thing for a reward based trainer is to see what is missing or has gone wrong, take ownership of it and have a plan to build or fix what we want. The dogs are doing nothing wrong if they "fail", we haven't taught them enough or is on us.  There is no blame, it is a game, we own it, they come along because we make it worth their while. 

So, my AHA today has in part with the fact that I haven't trusted my youngest pups, to stay with me to train outside. I have to get over that and make the game worth their efforts. Day one was pretty promising!!! Looking forward to Day Two. 

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