Saturday, February 4, 2012

Moving on, Methods and Training Ability

No, I am still not ready to write about Echo.  I miss him SO much, but he was such a significant part of my life for so long, he deserves a true tribute, one that will come with time and only when I am ready.

Instead I will write about two other thoughts that have been a repetitive theme in my agility life the last while.

Photo by Lucy Osborne

I love foundation, foundation is just of the friggin awesomeness.  My competing adults dogs do tons of foundation. BUT one must be very careful with young dogs not to get stuck in the 'Comfort Zone Foundation Trap'.  There are a ton of varying opinions out there about what dogs should/can do at certain ages.  I am not getting involved in that rats nest argument right now, thank you very much.  I have however, seen many people, regardless of their dog's age, get stuck in the above said trap.  These people can build there dog up to a certain point, but as soon as they run into a challenge or a 'lower consistency' they revert AND stick to that foundation point... forever.

Training is a process and you cannot see a result until you have completed each step of the process.  You cannot afford to get stuck on or stutter on step 7 for months on end.  It is detrimental.  You are patterning the FOUNDATION behaviour instead of patterning and teaching the end result!  Trainers need to THINK (the whole uncommon common sense argument) to resolve the steps towards end results to overcome obstacles.  It is a super hard one, as you don't want to accept unwanted behaviour, while looking for something to reward.  I have just seen SO many dogs getting 'halfway' into their agility training using proper foundation, getting stuck and reverting to pure luring/forcing/correcting training methods, because they lack the ability to actually think for themselves.... 'if the step is not on the dvd/in the book/recommended by my trainer... I REALLY can't do it.

To take a stupid silly example... me and another unnamed agility handler started teaching poles round about the same time.  When getting to the 2cm gap in our channel poles we both had problems and issues and aches and pains and tears.  Me, I made a plan and worked through it and within 10 days of me running into problems, Stein was weaving 12 closed poles.  After that I have had the opportunity to play around, open the channel again, work on really hard entries and striding and body position.  The other unnamed handler is still sitting with 2cm poles, no progress... three months later.  By this time she has PATTERNED open poles and increases the difficulty of doing closed poles by every repetition of open poles that she does.

Photo by Lucy Osborne

The second thing on my mind is just a quick one...  I love training people and in order to train OTHERS, I do a lot of research into 'training methods'.  BUT a way of training only becomes a METHOD once it can be recreated by others.  I have certain ways of training things that will never work for the majority.  Maybe it is because I spend an endless amount of time training it (that others will not be able/willing to), maybe it is because I have a phenomenal affinity to dogs, that another person cannot copy.  Who knows what it is, but through years of teaching and trying and experimentation, I can assess a person and say 'yes this will work for you' or 'no it won't'.  Now when you buy a dvd and the person demonstrating looks all confident and it all just 'works' it is very hard to judge, especially if you are on your first dog.  Agility has become a business for many people (myself included) and of course we market ourselves!  But just remember when researching a 'method' to make it your own.  And never ever believe a 'quick fix'... there is no such thing in the training of any animal!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

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