Are you asking your dog to give more than his 100%? Are you giving your 100%?
The first time I heard the concept in terms of what your dog has to give you, was at a seminar instructed by USA Judge Al Govednik. It has been etched in my memory ever since. He said that every dog has their 100% effort and that you need to recognize and respect that. It is like students in a class. One student works as hard as he can, studies hard and at his best effort, 100%, only gets a B. But another student breezes through the work, barely cracking a book and scores an A by giving only a 70% effort.
Dogs are like that. One dog might give you his 100% and only be capable of scoring 90 points on his best day. Another might be a podium dog, capable of 100 points, who just doesn't exert himself and routinely scores a 92. Which is the better dog? You cannot fault the dog that tries his best. You should not be angry at that dog who works as hard as he can but yet does not achieve the perfect score. When Al talked about treating such a dog as the champion he is, who gave it his best, it really struck home with me.
Sometimes the dog is limited by their training and the opportunities were are able to present to them. Sometimes they are limited by physical issues. I have a dog who is very upright in the rear and when he runs as fast as he can, it is not the same speed as the dog with more angulation who can stretch out. For a period of time, we struggled with obtaining a fast, straight finish, which was a training issue; when we achieved that, even though he hadn't made V scores, I knew he gave it his all. To me, he was a winner and it literally brought tears to my eyes.
I think sometimes when we are disappointed with our dog's performance, it is a displacement behavior. The person we are really disappointed with is ourselves. Why? Because we expect 100% effort from our dogs that we are unwilling to give ourselves. I have to admit I do not give my 100% consistently. I'm back to the Olympics again, as you can tell, but watching those athletes and what they go through to puruse their dreams makes it so clear to me that I don't give my 100%. And if I don't, how can I honestly expect that my dog can or should give his?
So in the future, I hope to have the wisdom to realize what my dog's 100% effort is, to reward it and take pride in it and to give him the same respect.
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- Sunday Training Feb 7
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