Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Preparing for Class: Feeding and exercise

It's always a challenge to learn how to best help individual dogs be prepared for class.

Some dogs need to be fed, some should not be, some should be fed part of a meal. Some dogs need exercise, some don't, some need just a little but not certain types.

With my own dogs I haven't yet found the perfect balance.

Blaze: Feeding before or after does not make a big impact. Possibly feeding before will decrease harder treat grabs. Exercise used to not make a difference (he was wild with or without it!). But due to his 9.5 year old body, exercise before hand can physically tire him out and lead to a session harder on his body, he will keep working as long as I ask.

Luna: She's not always the best eater, I typically do not feed her before class, and sometimes only half at the meal before that. Ultimately, dealing with her stress appropriately will be a better plan than just trying to increase the value of the reinforcer. If she gets a walk at the class location she is sometimes able to perform better. Luna doesn't have the best endurance and a long exercise period can wear her out.

Griffin: Again, not the best eater. If we've done a lot of exercise that day I will feed him part of a meal so he is not starving, but typically we'll feed after class. Exercise, I'm just not sure about! He is a dog that performs better when he's tired, much more steady and reliable and accurate. But his speed and bouncy enthusiasm can be a bit less. I'm not sure what's better at this point, but I suppose our obed. performance really doesn't need to be super bouncy!

His best work has always been the week after 4-H camp. Very reliable and precise and good work. I wish I could provide him that sort of enrichment on a more regular basis.

Griffin had his first group class in 5 weeks (and only has had about 6 formal group lessons this year!) tonight and was very good. We had an early morning walk, he was crated while I taught an hour. We went to a park for a short walk and training session and then sat while I worked for a few hours. And then had class. Now he's very asleep.

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