Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's all in the way you wiggle your hips

Observations of an obedience class......

Seriously, wiggle your hips.  Bend your arms.  Open your shoulders up.  Smile a little bit.

It’s interesting teach kids obedience.  You can really tell a lot about body language.  And you can tell who works their dogs and who doesn’t.  Is the parent in charge or the kid?

Last night was a breakthrough for many, a stumbling block for some.  I’m hoping it was a wake-up call but for a few I feel it was the end of the yellow brick road.  They just don’t get it.

So many people don’t get that there is such a time and place for a little gruff no, a pop on the lead to say, hello, I’m hear but much more, a time and place for happy jello bodies and upbeat, that’s a great job!  Praise and reward, throw the ball, catch the treat, scratch the ears.  I spent a lot of time calling kids out—yes we are that far into class that I warned them, they’ll get called out – for not doing something as well as those that are doing a great job.  

It’s so easy to get in the rut of no, come here now, tight lead and being disjointed from our dogs.  The hard part for a lot is the praise when they are doing it right, remembering lose leads mean good job and engaging our dog—then rewarding them for it.

I stood and watched a young dog working with a great young man last night.  Last week we had a short private session and ended up with a prong collar on the dog.  It was a matter of size of dog, size of kid and amount of force needed.  What we noticed this week was a whole role reversal.  No more ears back, dragging him across the floor, responding by laying down when asked to work.  What the dog needed was the kid to take charge, to be the leader, to be the person to tell it what and where to do something.  Before the dog was in charge simply because someone had to be and it didn’t like it and was not engaging. 

The mom and I talked while they were working and I said, look at the difference.  Ears up, tail wagging, upright body all were waiting for the kid to tell it what to do.  It was happily working.  It was comfortable in its roll now.  The leash was loose, hanging down, the prong-simple a pretty necklace hanging there.  They had finally established a relationship of give and take, but clearly defining who was in charge-the kid btw, and they were starting to work as a team!

Now I’m not a prong lover, for those that are going ick, ew, how horrible.  But I see the purpose of each piece of equipment when used properly and in the right place and time.  I dislike halti, halters, no jump harnesses, shock collars.  But each has a reason for its use, in the right time and place and when, again, used properly.  Personally,  because I do start my puppies young, I can work directly in a buckle collar.  I don’t think I’ve actually used the assortment of prongs and chokes I have in the closet in years.  I do use martingales but honestly, most of the time it’s nice and loose.  What I dislike are the use of any training item as a quick fix, an easy out and something that never really gets down to the heart of the problem.   Already we are working with the dog and kid, buckle collar or martingale is now on.  Prong simple a necklace and in another week, it will be tucked away while they continue to work on their relationship and engaging each other in the process.

But on the other hand, there are those that just will never get it.  How many times can I point out that your kid has no interest in this?  You can tell by the interaction with the dog, the way they stand there , like so bored with it all.  The dog’s lack of interaction, no response to even their name, totally blowing you off.  That when I suggest a private session, change of equipment, or even additional work to do during the week….nothing.   Or that you have no idea where your dog is?  Remember space, pay attention to the dog at the end of your leash.  YOU are the only one responsible for that dog because it’s tethered to you!  So quit blaming everyone else for walking too close, rushing past, or when another dog snarks at yours because you let them sniff their butt—uninvited.

It’s time for the “he just wants to say HI” talk.  Ugh.

On a lighter note, Kevin did the teeter last night, Malcolm army crawled the chute then laid down at the end with just his nose sticking out, and when I told the young lady working with Cy to wear him out....she returned later and said, he wore me out!

Just sayin.....

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