Starting Over In Dog Training
It has been so long since I’ve written anything here at The Dog Star Daily Blog that it feels like I’m starting over. Recently, I’ve started training my young dog, Laz and my new pup, Mars for a dog sport that I haven’t attempted in over ten years. So it kind of feels as though I’m starting over in dog training, too. Here’s to new beginnings!
As with anything new, it’s a very good idea to break a task down, start with small goals, and gradually increase complexity and duration. At the moment I am being reminded of this daily by my coaches as I plan training sessions for the very long, complex elements of French ring sport. Therefore this blog will be short and sweet, just like a heeling session for a new puppy!
I’ve never been a good trainer for sport of any kind. It takes a lot of patience and precision work. Anyone who has seen my handwriting or watched me cook knows neither of those admirable traits are my strong suit. Even though I logically understand the process of breaking down an exercise and splitting criteria into minutia as a pathway to success, my mind tends to work in broader strokes, which can often cause lumping behaviors together, which can hinder communication and limit performance. Part of the problem is that I personally find breaking things down a tedious and mildly punishing experience. I always seem to want to rush ahead. This is something I am aware of and working on and hope to improve on this new training journey with my fluffy boys.
The good news is that both Laz and Mars are very good partners. They are talented, focused, and give everything they do their all. It’s inspiring and sets a high bar for me. Thankfully, my desire to do my best by them overrides my impetuousness most of the time, though old habits are hard to break and I’ve got to watch myself. When I start moving too fast, or skipping steps, our training sessions suffer and I end up feeling frustrated which in turn makes me feel like a jerk. Or a disappointment to my dogs. Or not good enough. When I get that feeling I know it is most definitely time to slow things down. It’s also time to play! In training! Training should always be fun and play should be incorporated between every repetition of an exercise.
The other day, puppy Mars found an excellent way to help me turn a low moment around. It was time for a play break in our session, yet their were no toys in the yard. Not one to give up so easily, he darted over to our orange tree and found a tiny unripened fallen fruit and proceeded to toss it sound like a ball. Way to make lemonade, little guy! Or in this case, orangeade… Regardless the message was clear.