Dog trainers as a whole are typically control oriented. Or control freaks if I may. We don’t like when things go wrong and we often feel the need to fix them immediately if not sooner.
In my companion dog work this is a valuable trait, in my sport dog work I’ve found this to often been a hinderance. My first mentor calls this the greedy <insert expletive here> syndrome. Patience, however, is often the best training tool we can offer.
Listening to our dogs and cataloguing failures for future sessions, instead of diving in immediately, allows not only game planning but also the chance to verify if the failure to comply was happenstance.
In this session I’m building a wrap behavior with Icarus for a competition finish. I want him to tuck tightly to my right side, swing past my rear, and offer a heel position on my left.
As this behavior gets stronger I begin proofing his commitment to the final step, the heel position. I challenge his “find the leg” with a side step and when that is successful I try a pivot. However, the pivot, be it the Bambi legs of a 62lb 6month old puppy or just a lack of understanding challenges his confidence in the exercise and I see two responses. First, a check out and then seeking an alternative experience- a water bottle to play with.
I decide to not call Icarus off, I decide instead to allow him to bring me the bottle and incorporate it into our session. I am not a force free trained, in my companion work nor sport work, but in foundations I will always choose to manage the situation and allow the dog to push our session while creating an active participant in the work.
Next session will be focusing on pivot confidence - time to get those legs under control. 😎