Posted by: allstaragility | February 17, 2012

Go with the Flow

Ahhh, spent a nice afternoon at K-9’s with my girls!   Solei and C-ya took turns playing (one waiting much more patiently for their turn than the other) and getting in a little training.  I almost feel like the only one holding down the fort as so many people left for the trial in St. Louis today!  It was a good opportunity to evaluate some of the skills Solei and I need to sharpen in the next few months.  Things tend to get a little rusty when you take time off of regular trialing!  I’ve started my training to-do list and am looking forward to tackling those items.  Time off is so important to avoid burn-out, allows time to reflect and evaluate and reignites that fire to keep pushing towards our goals.

C-ya decided today that I was going to have to get creative with our training.  Just like we have to identify when it is important to take a break with our competition dogs, the same is very much true for the babies- if not more so.  We constantly have to evaluate our approach and determine what is enough before it become too much!  It was clear that C-ya was just not “into” the shaping games today.  It could have been partly due to the environment (it is amazing how their world expands so much in just a few weeks and something she didn’t notice before is suddenly interesting), or possibly just a phase in her development.     You cannot force a puppy to focus on the task at hand when their desire to think about offering behaviors for cookies has left the building.  However, it is key to keep in mind that training isn’t always such a formality.  While I had planned the things I hoped to work on in our training sessions this afternoon, it was soon evident that I was going to have to make some adjustments.

Instead of shaping sessions, we played hide-n-seek games (i.e. if you choose to ignore me, I will hide from you),  we played chase-me from one end of the arena to the other, worked tunnel to hand target to tunnel, practiced being patient while Solei trained, worked on sitting and waiting to go through gates and doorways, walked through the puppy ladder and she pushed the gate closed with her feet.   All in all, we still got in valuable training and were clearly more successful with active games that required less brain work than if I had been adamant about the agenda I originally planned.

That is the fun thing about puppies, there is no clear textbook for what to teach when.  You either go with the flow of their brainwaves, or end up frustrated that it isn’t going exactly as planned.   And the moment you get frustrated, you might as well stop, give your puppy a hug and call it a day.

We came home, C-ya had a much needed nap and we later got in a very successful session where she learned to nudge one of the kitchen drawers with her nose (which will hopefully evolve into her pushing it closed with her nose).  We kept it short and sweet and I was happy to end the session with her wanting more.   She was happy, I was proud of her and it was a successful day.

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