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Too Busy

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I haven’t been getting Lyra out to generalize her behaviors.  Too busy these days.

I have a lot going on with training, seminars, writing a book, raising kids, and random things that I need to do.  It’s not unusual for me to work from morning till night, and I don’t see a change in the near future.

But somehow…I had time to play on Facebook today.  I had time to buy coffee beans.  I even had time to sit down and work on this blog post.  Being busy is a relative thing; I’m too busy to do things I don’t really feel like doing but I find time to do things that I want to do, or that I understand are not optional (coffee beans are not optional).

Maybe “too busy” is a way to avoid some aspects of dog training that I don’t enjoy. Maybe I like to stay in my familiar training area where Lyra can learn new stuff and be a star, because that’s more fun than generalizing Lyra’s work in the world where we may have minimal success.  I always seem to find time for quick sessions at home, but rarely can I find that same time to do training that I don’t enjoy as well.  I’m too busy for that.

Lyra’s primary need is to develop her focus to work in new places.  I know that I should start this now, so that by the time we are ready to compete she will have had  hundreds of opportunities to work and play in lots of new areas.   I know that she needs to see dogs in the distance until they become a cue to focus on me.  I know that she needs to see plenty of strangers until she loses her hope that they will come over and visit.  I know that we need to practice going to new places until new places automatically cue her to check in and see if work is a possibility.

But it’s not very rewarding when I could be here playing with my superstar.  It’s not fun to watch a dog gaze into the distance or sniff the ground.  In public, I want to train and Lyra wants….to be a puppy.  Lyra wants to do puppy things and have puppy interests.  She does not want to focus on me when the world is calling; she wants to see new sights and meet new people.

How is it that I’m too busy to prepare my young dog for one of the most important aspects of competition?

Lyra could care less if she ever attends a dog show.  But if I’m serious about competing with her, then I don’t have the option of ignoring her training needs now and then complaining later when she’s distracted or stressed in the ring.  I need to train for a competition dog, not a trick dog that looks good in my yard.  If we’re going to do my sport, then I’m responsible for training what she needs to learn- no excuses.

I need to make time.  Time to attend training classes, fun matches, and to work on the exercises I don’t enjoy very much.   Complaining about being too busy will lessen my guilt but it won’t make me successful.

I did get Lyra out today; put her in the car when I went to buy my coffee.  It added ten minutes to the trip; less time then I spent on Facebook.  She did pretty well, which will help me stay motivated to try again tomorrow.

How about you?  Has your instructor told you that you need to attend fun matches or work more in new locations?  Practice around other dogs?  Work on your weave entries or contacts?  Play with your dog more?  Did you make time or were you too busy?

Did you have time for Facebook today?

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

28 responses »

  1. Ha!!! So true Denise! I did make time before a hair appt. to go by the nearest elementary school and put out 3 hides for Nosework so later in the afternoon I could take the dogs back and let them do their searches! It was great!!! We all love that game! Since I no longer have children at home training something is the part of the day I look forward to the most! Although with that said I do also need to get Ayla out training her utility work in new places…. But that means loading up jumps and baby gates, ugh. So there ya have it I’m not too busy just too lazy I guess?!

  2. Awesome post – Thank you so much!!

  3. Connie Kaplan

    Well said!

  4. ha ha ha great post! of course if i am on FB talking “dog stuff” i count it as training time 😉

  5. I already know I need to take my dogs training on the road and I do BUT sometimes it is best to remember we need to take our time and add patience to the mix. It doesn’t all have to be done today and today may be the day to catch up on FB and re-acquaint ourselves with others, maybe not even dog related :).

  6. Not only have I wasted time on FB today, I did spend time training. BUT – FB ended up with more time… now I feel guilty! Can I say I waiting till your seminar in 2 weeks to rewrite my game plan? 🙂

  7. Have had to limit my time on FB, it can suck me in for hours. Because of a post on FB a few days ago I spent time learning about the rats that exisit in trees in CA. I could have finished living my life very happily not picturing that. We haven’t tracked since our last competition, and the excuse is, not enough time. It is hard, but seems I used to get up at 4:30 a.m. and do it. If he is to shine through all 3 phases, and he can, he needs a chance to practice all 3. Good post.

  8. Thank you. I like having at least one thing in common with a very accomplished trainer! 🙂

  9. So so true…Glad your post reminds me to continue that I HAVE been getting my 10 month old into town regularly for just this kind of thing..the new coffee shop has tables outside now! Working on some down stays and watching little kids oh so politely. I have such a love/hate relationship with FB…wonderful post. And there is nothing wrong with slowing down and taking time to smell the roses. Or coffee.

  10. Yes, sure, me too, I know. BUT don’t forget how much more REWARDING to YOU taking it on the road is when she is successful ! Besides, who/what else would you really, really rather be spending time with than your “girl”? Hmmm???

  11. LOL. I love procrastination.

  12. I relate all too well and you know what, maybe sometimes it’s okay to be “too busy” to do the stuff we don’t want to do in order to allow ourselves the time to do the things we enjoy. Let’s face it, we all have too many things we don’t want to do, but should do …with our dogs and with everything else in our lives. I could probably fill my whole day with the “should do” list! I guess it’s all about moderation, balance, and discipline – too bad I’m not good with any of those things and just have to remember not beat myself up too bad about it all. …Love your blog!

  13. Oh, Denise, this was such an outstanding post. I, too, tend to become “too busy”, or it’s too hot, or a million other reasons for not getting out there to train. It’s so much easier to work at home in the comfort of air conditioning.

    Thanks for a wonderful post which I have taken to heart.

  14. Ouch – way too much truth in this post. Have you been spying on me?? LOL

  15. Oh, this post came at an amazingly good time…I’ve been struggling with my one dog who needs *more* public exposure and new situations, and it’s so much easier and *feels* more rewarding to keep him in his “safe” zones where he can be a super-star rather than take him to places where he will stare and fidget and be completely incapable of giving me his full attention. And it is so easy to just decide not to, for any number of excuses (“I’m too busy,” or “I’ll take him next time” or “I’ll just audit the seminar”).

  16. Amen, sister! The image of walking into the ring with a dog who is bright and engaged is what keeps me going to train in places where brilliance is not a given. And when those moments DO occur, oh what instant gratification!

  17. Yesterday I took my dog out with me planning to attend a outdoor drop in session that evening. Then the rain started and I realized I had forgotten my training bag of goodies so I decided to just bail and go home. Your post then rattled in my head so I went into the grocery store and purchased a few cheese sticks and then took my girl out and about around the shopping area (under cover) and had an awesome short training session with great distractions. Thanks for the kick!

  18. Connie Kaplan

    I took my girl and trained outside of an offleash dog park and it went really well. I train in a variety of places, but need to have more distractions and this post was a great inspiration for that. Thanks Denise!

  19. Tamara mcintosh

    Awesome post and so very true!!

  20. Just what I needed. Generalizing takes such effort while training in my back yard or house is so rewarding. Kicking one’s own butt takes work! Thanks for an inspiring post.

  21. How sad that you would expose your dog to plenty of strangers until “she loses her hope that they will come over and visit”, or that other dogs only serve as a cue to focus on you.

    Aside from environmental, what other forms of deprivation do you use to meet your competition goals?

    Yes, it is difficult to watch a dog sniff the ground when you want to train.
    As a professional, certainly you recognize that as a displacement activity.
    Your dog is trying to tell you something in the only way she can.
    If you were able to focus on your dog’s needs, rather than your need to compete and win, you might not feel so frustrated.

    You describe yourself as a professional trainer.
    Could you tell us what your credentials are?

    • As I mentioned in a previous post on the topic, deprivation is a relative thing. In my mind, the amount of deprivation that Lyra is exposed to (not allowed to socialize with people or dogs in public when I am available for work) is reasonable. However, I recognize that each person needs to decide what is comfortable, so maybe for your dogs access to new people and dogs is a basic right.
      Sniffing may be displacement or it may be a way of exploring the environment. To know the difference I look at the context and the dog’s overall demeanor. When Lyra is in public, I ask nothing of her whatsoever – she offers to work if she wants to, and I simply agree. Under those circumstances, I have no reason to presume that her sniffing is displacement.

  22. Late to the party, I just read this now….and you are describing ME!! I’ve been talking for ages about taking my youngster out to shopping centers to train….so far that’s all it’s been, TALK! It’s soooo much easier to just work here at home 🙂

    • LOL! My Mal could do AWESOME at a shopping center – trial – not so much!

      • Ha I think mine would do so-so at a trial, but awful at a shopping center….and it’s not like I don’t go shopping! I did take her once, and was approached by a crazy person who tried to take her leash so he could show me how to correct her. Seriously, who walks up to a stranger and tries to “correct” their German Shepherd?!

      • Steve Shaffer

        Hmm, show them how mace corrects crazy people?

  23. Wow! I am so happy to see there is someone like me out there, fustrated over the same things. I take my dog every day to do some training in the “outside” world… some days he do great, and other days he does terrible. My biggest problem is that I don’t have a drivers license so I have to take atleast 20-40 min walk til I get to an area with distractions by the time we get there he is allready tired. Now I am training him more at home these days, and waiting for a few months to pass so I can get learn how to drive and get a car. Then I will be seriously working him. Anyways I am getting off subject I know how your feeling!

    Everyday my mood is based on my dog.. if he does great I am super happy.. if he doesn’t I am in a bad mood. Oh yeah and all the house work, studying, cooking, and ect I need to do all the time! It never stops!! I feel like my head is about to explode I wake up at 6:30 every morning and finish “working” in the house about 9 PM!


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