Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What I've learned...

Many folks doing agility now never saw or met my first agility dogs.  I thought I'd share some of the positive things the dogs in my life have taught me.   Many of us like to say that each dog comes to us to teach us something.  I have been privileged to have had some really great teachers over the course of my time training dogs personally and professionally.    They have given me a broad base of experience and skills.  The provide the basis for my philosophy that dog training can not be done with cookie cutters but has to be done with individual molds for both dog and handler. They have all made this journey very fun as well as educational. 


Ashley
Ashley taught me:
  • how fun obedience training can be
  • how fun agility can be
  • how fun having a dog can be
  • how loyal a dog can be
  • how horrible it is to lose your first special dog suddenly at the age of two years.





Demi taught me:

Demi
  • about the challenges of bonding with a 1 1/2 year old who has been left to play with other dogs her whole life and not been trained to do anything
  • introduced me to the concept of ring and performance stress
  • introduced me to the idea that not all dogs are cut out to be performance dogs, some just like playing the game in the backyard or class and that is ok
  • some dogs are awesome with any dog or puppy or person of any age (and some are not)





Bradish taught me:
Bradish 1998 AKC Natls
  • how much fun agility can be
  • how easy distance training/handling can be
  • how fast a dog can become ring-wise and behave differently in training and trialing
  • how athletic dogs can be
  • the need for criteria on contacts
  • how they can keep running when high on adrenaline and seriously hurt
  • the importance and value of "flow" in courses for safety
  • the importance of a reliable recall which he did not have





Nigel taught me:
Nigel
  • how hard agility training can be
  • the importance of motivation
  • how to manage a dog aggressive dog
  • how some dogs can do things to get attention whether it is punishment or reward
  • how hard it is to raise two dogs 2 weeks apart in age
  • how independent a dog can be
  • how important physical soundness is and how important conditioning is to soundness
  • how hard stays and self control training can be





Leysha taught me:
Leysha
  • how to motivate a dog for agility and how to reward speed
  • how easy obedience and self control training can be
  • how to handle smoothly and how to train distance
  • how stressful trials can be for dogs
  • how much dogs know about what they have been bred to do
  • how much a dog who is willing to please will do for a person


Tobie taught me:

Tobie
  • how to handle a fast dog
  • how to use toys in training
  • how hard stay and self control training can be
  • how to manage a reactive dog at busy agility trials
  • how important jump training is
  • how hard it can be to maintain contact criteria in a trial when a dog is easily self rewarded by doing obstacles









Sonic
Sonic taught me:
  • a deep appreciation for trial ring stress and how it affects dogs in many ways
  • how much what we do in a trial setting especially with weave poles compared to training is creating stress for dogs
  • how hard it is to teach one criteria for the aframe and a different one for the dogwalk
  • a deep appreciation for what it means to lose a dog at the peak of their performance career as well as when they are full of life and potential and are as sweet as the day is long
  • how truly sweet a dog can be to all animals and people






Amigo taught me:
Amigo
  • the importance of good structure for longevity in performance sports
  • the challenges of training a dog who is "what's in it for me?"
  • the importance of a good "leave it"
  • the fun of shaping a dog to do tricks in a manner of minutes
  • how to live with separation anxiety
  • the importance of bridging the gap between training and trialing



Sinco continues to teach me:
Sinco
  • a love for all dog sports
  • not all dogs enjoy shaping with a clicker
  • how much fun a dog enjoys competition can be
  • an understanding of how much dogs can want to be right
  • an understanding of the importance of rewarding what you want especially speed
  • an understanding for being careful about correcting a dog
  • a greater understanding of how much work it is to raise a well socialized litter of puppies
  • a greater understanding of hormonal changes and how they affect performance
  • a greater understanding of what aspects of temperament are hard-wired an what aspects can be affected by nurture.







Feisty continues to teach me:

Feisty
  • a great understanding of the many ways trial ring stress expresses itself
  • a great understanding of how the presence of people can produce pressure that can affect a dog's performance
  • a greater understanding of how to use food to motivate and train for speed
  • what it is like to live with a  high energy dog who is very sensitive to her environment
  • an understanding of how to train to make it seem like it is all the dog's idea
  • about what sound sensitivity really means
  • how reinforcing the crowd laughing can be for a dog






Tay continues to teach me:
Cante (Tay)
  • a love of shaping a dog to do tricks
  • a great appreciation for the impact of soreness/injuries on a dog
  • an appreciation for how dogs can be very sensitive to smells, touch as well as sound
  • an appreciation for the different types and degrees of intelligence dogs can possess
  • what a truly sensitive dog is in all the ways she is
  • how really truly difficult training a stay can be for some dogs and how abstract some training concepts are and how some dogs have greater difficulty grasping those abstract concepts
  • to remember that not all dogs enjoy competition no matter how much I do






Spring
Spring continues to teach me:
  • the universe really doesn't understand "no" when you wish for something in other words don't tell the universe "I don't want a Sheltie who spins and barks" because you will get a Sheltie who spins and barks at high speed!
  • how difficult shaping as a training tool can be for some dogs
  • how hard running contacts can be even with a small dog
  • how smart a dog can be in terms of the "show me the money" game




Carmine is just starting to teach me:
video
  • how much fun a dog who loves a crowd can be
  • the challenges of training a highly toy motivated dog
  • the importance of on and off switches that work well
  • how to handle a fast dog
  • how hard running contacts can be
  • how training the agility obstacles can be the easy part but the rest of the relationship training takes much more time and much more work

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