The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The perfect widget

This week, in the 10th edition of The Real Time Canine, I wrote about training tools that, in my opinion, are 2 of the most valuable a handler can possess. Handlers rush to buy the perfect whistle, rake, a rope or collar, stock stick, rattle paddle, bean bag, length of hose, shock collar or treat when they already possess exactly what is needed most. Popular TV trainers publish ghost-written books, then make millions selling their version of the perfect widget necessary for salvation.

Just as I do each week in The Real Time Canine, I will show you, by example, what I mean. Here are 2 excerpts from Volume 10:

Find your inner resolve. Mine is in the middle of my chest, somewhere in the area of my diaphragm, and it seems to me that I have never needed the full extent of it. I can literally summon it up, and I feel it physically. We all have it. Sometimes it only shows up in our darkest hour. Sometimes it doesn't show up at all, but it's there. Start with something small. Identify something your dog does that you don't want him to do and determine to stop it. I'm not advocating force, or punishment, but to some degree, these things may play a part. That depends on you and your relationship with your dog. If you start with something easy enough, you will have success and you will build on that. Nurture your intention and you will surprise yourself.

Observation: My impression of Star changes all the time. That's good, because, as he matures mentally, physically and in training, so does his demeanor. Based on his that, I have to adjust the way I interact with him. I'm always observing closely and looking for signs that tell me in which direction he is headed as opposed to where I want him to go. First things first; Where do I want him to go? I want him to be a useful working sheepdog and successful trial competitor. What qualities are necessary to acheive that goal? Keen instinct, confidence, intelligence, willingness, skill, stamina and courage. Is my training effectively creating and promoting those qualities in my dog? That's the question I'm always asking. What is the goal you want to acheive with your dog? Establish what qualities are necessary and then check yourself to make sure you are bringing that out in him.

Instead of utilizing these tools to train a dog, many times I see handlers use compensating factors. Out of their own failure to observe, recognize, eliminate and correct unwanted traits or behavior, they use a recall to widen an inside flank, use physical correction, buy a bark collar, leave their dog at home, surrender it to animal control, buy another dog. Instead of taking responsibility for their own frustration, they blame the dog.

I'm going to suggest that the more we rely on our rakes and collars and treats, the less we believe in our ability to get results; the lower our resolve. I think that we find dog-training salvation when we sharpen our observation and discover our inner resolve.

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