Day 167: Heaven...It's Official...
Land, Sheep, Agility and now a pool...Doggie Heaven :)
The new pool is up! No, the husband and I are still married and Eric did not show up to sweep me off my feet...but the pool FREAKIN' ROCKS!!!
Day 168: FINALLY!!!!!!??????
Final preparations...see those pink flags?? There just might be a barn there soon...Fingers crossed....
And now...onto questions :)
I started with the last question and I will work my way up...if anyone has any other questions, feel free to ask :) This is fun!!!!
Question: Do your dogs have natural drive/speed or it is something you've worked with them on?
I am a personal believer in ALL dogs have natural drive :) How's that for a political answer! HA! But honestly...there are basic drives, some breeds of dogs can be a bit more difficult to tap into, but it's there. Sometimes we as trainers have to really work hard on what it is that motivates our dogs, but it's there. I do drive training (Schutzhund) with ALL my dogs regardless of what they are, their temperaments etc. How I adjust my drive training depends on each individual dog. Some drive training is all about building want and need for toys/food etc...some drive training is about impulse control while in drive and how to come into and out of full drive.
Dogs can be at different stages depending on where they are in their training. I am a very firm believer that you first have to have the drive before you to put control on it...not the other way around. So...my young dogs tend to be a bit rude at times...and I am OK with that. I can always add control and channel that drive into more appropriate behaviors, but I first want that drive to be nurtured. I want puppies grabbing at toys for example when they are young. Does that mean my 18 month old does it? Nope...but that's after a long time of building value. THEN adding the control in.
I'm not saying this is the only way, or the best way, but it's the way I do it :) And it works great for me.
The key is to adjust...you have to adjust your training to each dog, they are all different, some thinkers, some doers, some silly, some serious. A good trainer can change their behavior and approach with each different dog. And that is what you have to do. Your approach has to be constantly changing depending on what the dog is doing at the time. Not what they did yesterday, or tomorrow...but TODAY, right now.
So...do my dogs have natural drive, yes :) Do I make sure that drive comes out and then some, double yes!!!
Question: How do you recommend building speed and confidence, especially in young dogs?
Speed and confidence comes with understanding. I don't really want a dog to do something they have never done before at warp speed. We as humans don't perform new tasks correctly at full speed, it takes time and practice. I expect that from all my dogs. Thinking through new tasks is completely normal and I don't try to speed my dogs up on things as soon as I teach them something new. I let them soak up the info and develop the speed at their pace. Once I see mastery of the skills, then I will increase difficulty, speed etc...usually one variable at a time. The more confidence you build, the faster the dog will do the task. On that same note, if a young dog fails, I don't get upset...I just try to figure out why the failure occurred and go from there. Was it lack of understanding? Over-excitement? My body language (usually!! LOL) or something else. I also realize that sometimes dogs just have bad days. I have days when I am just not 100% and I can't expect my dogs to behave like machines every, single, day. They too have bad days. So if something is going downhill, I'll normally stop and just wait until the next day.
When trialing a young dog, I want their first trials to be fun, happy and not overwhelming. The dogs behavior will determine how I handle them...praising is huge. I don't worry about Q's...I just want the dog having fun, seeing that I am there to support them and that trialing is the same as training. I don't expect my dog to come out of the gate as speed demons. I expect caution, some worry on new contacts, WP issues, etc etc. But that goes away with time and patience. Worrying about things with baby dogs doesn't seem to get me anywhere, just makes the situation worse. So I don't worry...I just go run my dog, enjoy the time out there and then make a mental note of things to work on for the next trial. That's why I trial anyway...to see how my training is holding up.
If my young dog is having some major issues...I will pull them from trials for a bit to reassess things. I did that with Lynn as many of you know and I also did that with Klink for a bit after her first few trials. Just so I could get a handle on a few things and then start back up again. I see nothing wrong with that and I think there are times that continuing to trial will cause issues. But again, that is on a case by case basis.
Dogs go through many stages when they begin trialing...my job as the trainer is to help them through all these stages with positive experiences. My biggest rule is: DO NO EXPECT OR DEMAND PERFECTION from young dogs. There is plenty of time to mold and shape them into what you want...the pressure of all those expectations can ruin dogs. I've seen it time and time again. It's not pretty :-((
Hope that makes sense! :)
Question: I would love to hear what weave pole method you use to teach weaving...
I sort of use a hybrid method :) Some 2 x 2 from Susan Garrett, some other stuff. I use shaping for sure...I don't have channel weaves, or WAM's, just straight poles...so I just work with those and it seems to have worked out fine for me so far. I teach entries separate from the 12 poles. Entries to me are the first 4 poles...I do all sorts of entries, all around the clock and I want them solid without me in the picture. Meanwhile, in different sessions I will work them up to 12 poles with easy entries...then I just slowly put them together :) Rewards are always at the end of the poles as I want the dogs driving as much as they can. If the dog has issues with weaving while the toy/food is on the ground and not cheating I will make adjustments...but normally that has been addressed as part of foundation training.
If you have any questions about this, feel free to put them in the comments section. This is fun! :)
Nothing personal, but I'm gonna go work on my tan now...in the pool...with the dogs....ahhhh....life is GOOOOOOD :)