Monday, October 5, 2009

Compromise...

That word can be used to describe my relationship with Zip, my 6 year old Border Collie. It sums up our training, in agility or on stock. It sums up our relationship. It is something I really didn't give a 2nd thought until I trained her...I didn't like to compromise on much. THIS IS HOW IT IS. Was more my mantra. Not...well, MAYBE this is how you want it and I would like to be a part of that. No..not so much.

Zip is an interesting combination of stubborn with a bit of biddability and some tension thrown in. If she is treated fairly she remains biddable and thinking...if in her mind she is being treated unfairly, she hardens to that of a substance that cannot be broken...she WILL do it her way. She WILL not listen. It becomes a battle of wills. And I think she would be willing to battle to the death on some issues.

I always find it funny how we learn something about a dog in ONE area of life, and yet fail to extend it to other areas...as if this ONLY applies to said dog in THIS particular situation.

It all started with herding...I was told by an "instructor" (using that term VERY loosely) to lay my dog down before I sent her...get that CONTROL...so I did.

I then went to a very good person who later told me to let her be...if she wants to stand, and she isn 't sending herself to sheep...why do you need to always CONTROL her..she isn't doing anything wrong and she doesn't like the down...so why do it? It causes her to be tense..and it hardens her to you. I stopped doing it...she stopped getting tense....made her outruns PERFECT. Done...enough said. I never again did anything to control her at the start of a run....

Flash forward to agility...Zip has had startline issues....breaking...scooting 20 feet, tension and causing issues further on course....a fight started at that startline and it continued until the finish line.

Having a "brilliant idea" I decide to let her do what she wanted at the startline....NO...I didn't say BREAK and run crazy as I trailed behind her shouting commands....but allow her to position herself how she wanted....

She picked a stand.....98% of the time in training (yes I was keeping a tally--I was curious and I used to do research for a living....so call me a nerd)....the other 2% was a sit. Interesting.

She doesn't break in class...so I thought....lets see what she does at a trial.

I had a TOTALLY different dog. She stood on the startline..might have taken a step or two..but that was IT. She was happy, no tension in her...and she ran better than she probably EVER has. Listening well, doing her job, we were a TEAM. All because of me compromising...ONCE AGAIN with my dog.

There are people that will probably say I "gave up" I should have rewarded her more, done this done that. Bottom line...I don't care...it works for her, it works for US.

I was amazed at the instant change in her...amazed. What I am saddened about is that I fought her on this for as long as I did...sigh. I guess that is what dogs do...teach us lessons.

Sometimes a little compromise goes a long way...

3 comments:

BCxFour said...

Excellent post and wonderful perspective - which hit close to home. I am learning how to compromise with Beth. She hates downs when working with sheep. Now that we have switched it to a stand the fighting with me has stopped and we have been able to focus on the work. It is wonderful to see the tension leave her little body. Now she offers the down 50% of the time. PROGRESS!

fulltiltbcs said...

Exactly...I think it is always amazing how people want to help a dog be right..when in reality instead of getting angry at what they are doing...many never ask WHY...

manymuddypaws said...

the things with dogs is it is never black and white- what works for one doesn't work for another. great post