Sunday, October 3, 2010

Adjusting Criteria for the Humans

Sometimes in class we adjust criteria for the dogs, but more often it's for the people.

In a recent class, we had a dog making amazing progress. He needed more challenge, there was no reason his part to stay at the current level. But his owner was very stressed, still had some not so stellar training mechanics, and if we made things harder it could ultimately backfire.

So, as we were working with reactive dogs, we changed nothing that team was doing. We had another team get closer. And closer. And then we had the first team move out 3 feet (...we have a huge training space!). And everything was great.

I could have done a training exercise where the team was changing path. Or moving in a different way. Or doing about turns. Or doing long pauses. Or arcing. And it could have gone well, but it also could have been more stress than was needed.

Recently I've been looking at how I might be holding back my dogs. I've been a bit more diligent about video taping (is it called that if we don't use tape?) and looking at the video, and making adjustments. I probably should set aside some time to work on my skills away from my dogs. I've been using the shelter dogs to practice some things I need for work, as well as a few placement-of-reinforcer variations that will impact how I work with my dogs too. It almost feels like I'm flailing, I've never been out of real training class for so long, my dogs and I need it! I've checked with eight facilities, some agility, some everything, some pet training, and nothing is fitting in with our schedule. Maybe its time I work less.

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