Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Teach the dog to do it right, then teach it until it can't go wrong
Well as you can see Scandal is nearly as tall as Tia at 8.5 months. Everyone says she is built like a whippet which I guess is better than being built like a tank! A lot of people who saw her at 4/5 months old remarked "oh she's going to be small isnt she" but I think a lot of people assume unless a dog grows like a sunflower, it is going to make medium! She must be around 19" now, as Tia is 19.5.
Back to the title of this post, this is what my obedience trainer said to me today. We spent so long on Tia that we didn't have time for Scandal, although we talked through a few things on tackling some of her brattish behaviour when we're at shows.
So, Tia and sendaways. Well I have never understand how a dog could be quite so dim, as Tia just didnt 'get it'. What I want from a sendaway is the dog to run through the front markers to a back marker (even if there are 4/6/8 front markers) and then drop WHEN I say drop.
Tia's version is to run out and drop where she feels appropriate, and, try as I might, I really couldn't convince her (despite endless training rounds in the ring) that I wanted her at the back marker and she didn't have to drop herself.
Well thanks to Susanne I think I now understand why Tia has such weak sendaways, I have always limited what I train with her (I vary the markers etc but I always want the same behaviour) and I need to vary it, so that when I get in the ring, a plain sendaway is easier. The more she talked about it the more I could see that Tia wasn't quite so dim (still dim, just not quite so much). So we played some sendaway games and Tia thought this was just fabtastic. It is also good for me to build on the failure part, which of course Tia finds hard. The second we started talking Tia took herself off into a corner and went to sleep ("I cant/shant/wont try") and when I called her back came about as lifelessly as possible. However once we worked over this Tia forgot that she had a problem with it and did some good work.
For some reason, I see agility and obedience very differently. When I'm training weaves and contacts for example, I 'proof' them as much as possible, distracting with toys/treats, my body movement etc. Yet when I train obedience (eg DC/sendaway/retrieve) I am very limiting in what I do, I don't challenge the dog, so we don't strengthen up in a particular exercise. I think Tia's contacts and weaves are pretty strong, but I have spent ages working her through distractions, making it as hard as I can for her, rewarding when she gets it right, and working her through the ones she finds hard. Yet somehow I have convinced myself not to do this in obedience, in case it confuses her. Well, not anymore, I am now going to try and make her as strong in obedience as she is in agility. Hmmmmmmmm how successful we will be I don't know. I will probably by next month have completely lost my DC and my sendaways will be even worse than they are now!