oh my auggie

Training Chatter

So it’s week five of my Brilliant Recalls e-course with Susan Garrett. Over the course of the class, I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily had any training epiphanies so the speak… at least not in the traditional “ah-ha!” moment kind of way. What I have had is a shifting of my thought process and my overall training habits.

The big one would be that I’ve ditched luring for behaviours. This is actually really hard, because lure based training is how I was taught to train and how I’ve trained for many many years. Old habits die hard and it’s VERY difficult to stop luring. It’s also hard because what we are learning in Recallers has to do mostly with a recall, though many of the games are useful in SO many different areas. So we aren’t learning, for example, how to teach a dog to sit without a lure. Not that I need to know how to teach a dog to sit without a lure – I know about capturing, and of course my dogs know how to sit – but I’m just using that as an example. So I’m shifting into a new way of thinking, but I don’t really know how to do everything yet.  I definitely don’t feel confident enough to walk into a training class tomorrow and say “We’re not doing any luring in this class!” and help everybody in the classroom train their dogs as expected without using a lure… just because I haven’t done it all before, helped anybody do it before, and don’t even have a clear picture in my head of what to do.  There is no game plan, no map.  I am basically stumbling around with a blank piece of paper, trying to draw the map based on what I walk into, what other people tell me, and then can eventually show that map to somebody else and tell them “Well, if you want to get from here to here, this is where you go…”
One problem with drawing this map of shaping and capturing, as I’ve noticed with other people as a trainer and having used SOME shaping/capturing in my classes (even though I would say they have been primarily lure-based) is how HARD it is for many people to learn the concept of “don’t do anything, don’t say anything, let the dog come to the conclusion on his own.” I’ve told people “okay, don’t say anything, just wait” and they wait for maybe a few seconds… and then start saying things again or trying to “make” the dog do something.  It’s difficult for people to grasp the concept of waiting for the dog to do things on his own and then reward it rather than luring or prompting… even with somebody standing right behind you, saying “JUST SHUT UP AND LET THE DOG THINK FOR A SECOND!”  (Not that I’ve ever yelled that at my students or even been tempted to, but I sometimes think I probably should have yelled that at MYSELF in the past.)


It’s evolution of my thought processes.  I’m enjoying it.  I think that might actually be the biggest thing I’m getting out of the e-course, even though the games are also IMMENSELY helpful – but it’s how my entire thought process and teaching approach is evolving along the way.

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