Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feb 13 training

We had a small group on Saturday, but then, we are a small group to begin with. In our schutzhund club we spend alot of individual time with the dogs and handlers.  This is important to the members who choose us.  I like to think it enhances the TEAM, because we all have an investment in the growth of the entire group.

We had a new puppy with us on Saturday.  Cute little bugger! He is only 7 weeks old, and I am not a fan of releasing pups at 6 weeks as his breeder did, but once the pup is home you need to get it started on the right track.  The first thing is to engage the puppy with the handler and while things were abit overwhelming initially for the little guy, when he returned for a second session things were clicking.

We all need to remember this: foundation, foundation, foundation.  Don't skip steps. Sometimes it will be very frustrating and possibly even boring for you to work on those tiny pieces, but without the holes in your training will be apparent later on, and much more difficult to fix.  Actually, it is very unfair to the dog to do this because after reinforcing and rewarding for an incorrect behavior for a period of time, it just isn't fair to then correct him for doing exactly as you taught.  If I taught you as a child that 2+2=5 and gave you good grades, or an allowance for doing so well and then the following insisted that 2+2=4 and rapped your knuckles with a ruler when you kept writing =5, would you enjoy learning? Would you be confused?  You would likely eventually respond with the correct answer, to avoid punishment and pain, but the process would be patently unfair.

There is a difference between the expectations of a pet in obedience, and a competitive dog sport.  In dog sports it is important that you understand what is expected of you so that you teach your dog properly.  For example, on Saturday I explained why it can be helpful to teach your dog the fold-back down so that he does not throw himself forward and over the line for the escape bite. How many times have we watched handlers have to re-set their dog in this position? Why throw away points needlessly?  And I demonstrated having the dog return to a sit by tucking his rear end underneath rather than pulling himself up by the front legs and sliding back (and out of position).

I don't write this in every post, but I am so proud of our TEAM members, our club members.  I am proud to be a part of a group that supports one another, that works together with similar training methods and who creates success with what we have.  We don't hire helpers, we don't have superstars, and we will take whatever amount of time is required to make sure the the handler and dog team have the instruction they need and deserve.