Thursday, January 15, 2009

Impatience is a Virtue

So, I was thinking about what I posted yesterday, and how I said I was often a bit impatient. I decided that isn't always a bad thing. Most of the time, I'm impatient simply because I'm bored and want to move on to the next thing. This isn't so great when it comes to rushing a dog from one level to the next, but it's fabulous during single training sessions.

When it comes to training dogs, one thing to keep in mind is that they have extremely short attention spans. They bore easily. So, a trainer must always keep everything interesting. That's where my impatience is useful. If I'm bored, typically the dog is too. It's easy for me to move on to something new or change the pace because I'm bored too. And, just like a dog, as long as the pace is changed briefly, I can typically go back to the original project fairly easy.

Ex: When I was teaching Henry to down, he seemed to have a lot of trouble with it. Both he and I got extremely frustrated after just a few tries. Henry didn't want to work for his treats anymore, and frankly I didn't want to have to make. So, I took him for a walk. I asked him to heel. He was still learning (and earning treats) but he was doing something different. Both Henry and I were happy. After many tries, he finally got the down, but every session went like that (and still does). Even though he now knows the command for down, if that's all I asked him to do he'd get bored and quit working. Instead, the pattern is typically down, heel, sit, stay, down, stay, heel, place, etc. Within about 15-20 minutes, his time limit is up and I'm typically ready to move on to the next dog anyway. It works out great for both!

Yes, I know that the dogs have to learn to listen for more than 20 minutes, and they will. But, at least at the phase Henry's in now, short bursts of work followed by impatience and boredom work great!

1 comment:

  1. About a dog is a lot like potty training a child. You figure that eventually they're going to "get it." That thought helped me to be patient when you were little.