Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Smile - or else!

Yesterday evening I got to teach Open class for our training club. Counting me, there were four of us who showed up last night. I have to remember that it's not quantity, it's quality that counts.

I'm not really wonderful at spontaneous teaching, so I'd mapped out a heeling exercise that I wanted everyone to practice - nothing complex; forward, circle right, forward, circle left, forward, right turn, drop your dog, leave your dog, call your dog. Okay, that sentence made it sound way harder than it is. But you get the idea.

One of my bug-a-boos training Roc was that I originally taught him the exercises rather than teaching him to listen to me. He would do a wonderful drop-on-recall, whether or not I asked him to. His finish was great - he just didn't wait for me to tell him to do it. So my solution was to stop training the actual, competition-style exercise, and just ask for elements from each one. Now he listens to me! It's the most amazing experience to give a command and see your dog process what you've said and then - ta da! - do it!

So that's what I wanted to "share with the class." With one additional requirement. I made everybody smile the whole time. If we're not having fun, there's no reason to do this. The penalty for not smiling? The next time through, they'd have to sing. My favorite training methods are bribery for dogs, threats for people. It worked like a charm. Everybody smiled, everybody had some fun, everydog did just fine.

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