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Motivation Part 2

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Oh, things are going well around here.  Very well.

Here’s a video – Lyra has had three or four training sessions since my last post.  

Things Lyra has learned in that last three sessions:

1)  Work from the training yard can be rewarded with a trip to the pool.  She learned the phrase “let’s go swim in the pool” in three efforts.  It takes me about ten seconds (at a run) and twenty seconds (at a walk) to pony up.

2) Work might be more than “sit” or “down”.  The rules are the same; cooperation causes the pool gate to open.

3)  There just might be a quality or a speed component to the work.  Today when her elbows didn’t go down on her “down” I did not accept it.  On the next repetition her elbows slammed to the ground.  Heck, I didn’t even know she could slam her elbows down.

Things to watch for:  She’s vocalizing.  Under the circumstances, this is no problem whatsoever.  There are no swimming pools at dog shows, so this is extremely unlikely to become an issue.  If the noise was generated by food or a toy then I’d need to do some serious thinking.

The quality of her stand/stay (I say “wait” for stand, by the way) is really shaky. I don’t care – I’ll deal with the quality when the time is right – to do so now would raise her frustration level too high.

She’s offering behaviors without being asked (note that in the beginning of the video when I ask for a recall I get a down and a sit instead).  No worries – that will go away as soon as she realizes that offering won’t pay.  Ever.

Her heeling quality has suffered -she’s trying so hard that she’s throwing herself all over the place.  That’s just fine too – an easy problem to solve when I want to take it on.

In the meantime, let me just say I’ve never had so much fun.

Motivation is a very complicated topic.  Too much or too little?  Temperament of the dog?  Skill of the handler?  Prior training history?  Goals?  A frustrated/highly motivated dog is no more trainable than a bored/unmotivated dog.  So much to consider before even starting your training plan!  A book’s worth, as a matter of fact.  Might have to write it.  

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.

8 responses »

  1. Barb VanEseltine

    Lots of fun to see her working this high!!

  2. Lyra came with only slight hesitation when you called her out of the pool area. How would you have handled the situation if she chose not to come?

  3. When she offers the down, rather than the commanded “sit”, you return to her and say “good girl”, and break up the behavior. I use “good girl” and reward when the dog is correct. Is it that she didn’t get released to the pool that she knows she was wrong? She obviously performed it correctly on the 2nd trial with no verbal “god girl”, but just a release to the water.

  4. When Lyra offers a down after you commanded a “sit,” you return to her to break up the behavior and say “good girl.” I typically use this phrase when my dog gets it right. On the 2nd trial she performed correctly and was released to the pool with no “good girl.” Is the verbal praise used to keep her engaged, and the reward alone her information as to correctness of behavior?

  5. Please do write it!!!!


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