|I’d say she’s showing the 3-Fs here…|
So I did a quick training session with Lu on Friday morning. I had looked out the window and seen her doing crazy- huge zoomies, digging up the garden like a hoon, diving in and out of her paddle pool despite it being a balmy 10C outside. I decided she was in a silly and drivey enough mood that she could channel some of that energy into playing with me.
I got out her brand new squeaky ball toy and she was instantly turned on. Focus.
I was going to start with some simple collar restraints but I thought I’d give a cik/cap a try – see how she was driving forward. And she did. Ok, my puppy isn’t sprinting into the turns yet, she’s sort of cantering in – I think part of that is due to still having a bouncy puppy-gait at times. But she’s getting faster and faster.
Then we play. A game I thought of yesterday – ‘poke and go’ (where I poke Lumen and run away, turn, poke, run away) which ended up with her nipping my thighs. Ouch. However, I realised this morning with a mouth full of squeaky ball she could growl and bark at me all she wanted, but couldn’t possibly nip. WIN! So we played. Fun.
Thinking about this training session- one that felt really great, with a really switched on happy dog, I thought of the things that made it feel so good, and found I could summarise in three words:
Focus, Fast, Fun.
Ok, I’m sure there’s more words you could work in but I think this kind of exemplifies how I’d like to train. I’d like us to both be focused, and this includes being driven and motivated (Lumen) and being clear about what we’re trying to do (Me, and very obviously my teaching background). Eventually this would include not being distracted in environments other than the back-yard, too (though sometimes that’s distracting enough for her, too!).
I’d like her (and me) to be fast- to run and sprint and turn on a dime. Silvia Trkman stresses that a dog can’t learn something slowly and then do it quickly, because the behaviour changes. That you should train running fast and then work on the finer points. That if your dog is doing something fast and makes a mistake, that it’s your mistake (lack of training, poor signals, poor body language, etc) and not the dogs, and to not correct/go back/stop the mistake as this will make the dog more slow and more cautious as they’re always trying to get things right. I have to be careful with this if I send Lu into a cik/cap and she goes the wrong way (eg. I say ‘cap’ and she goes ‘cik’) but does it fast- I say yay! but don’t go crazy or play, or jackpot, and we try it again.
And Fun- I get so caught up in the competitive part of agility that it becomes very, very serious business for me. Ask anybody who knew that I was one pass off my Agility Championship with Mallei, how un-fun it became. Ask Husband, when I find some crack in Lu’s training so far that might predict problems down the line, how obsessive I become at fixing it. I think if Lumen is having fun, and if I’m having fun, then the rest should be easy- if agility is just a game, Lumen is a great game-player.
So there’s my 3Fs: Focus (including motivation, drive, obstacle and handler focus, and focus from me on the task at hand), Fast (speed, running and drive before precision), and Fun (playing, running, not getting caught up in the seriousness of it – for both of us!).