Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Twist on the Five Times Challenge

So, about six weeks ago, I posted about training schedules. In an effort to drill less and have more fun with my training, I decided to do something I called the “Five Times Challenge,” where I would train five times a day for 60 to 120 seconds. I did that for a few weeks, and then found that I really hated trying to keep track of it. It’s easy to do, but I tend to get a bit rigid about things like that. If I only did four sessions and not five, I felt like I’d failed for the day, which is patently silly, but even so, it created more stress than it was worth. So I quit doing it.

Which means I needed a new training plan. Now, as much as I get stuck when I create plans, I also need plans to keep me on track. The trick is creating a plan that helps keep me on task while allowing me the flexibility necessary so training remains fun.

I started by taking a look at my 2010 goals. I thought about the things I’m doing, and the things I’m not doing. Then I made a list of what I needed to be doing in order to meet those goals.

It looked like this:

I’ve been wanting to include more pictures in my entries because it’s supposed to be more interesting to readers. I’m not sure this actually qualifies.

Which is when I realized… a lot of the specific exercises I needed to work on could be done anywhere. My living room, my back yard… and… on walks?

YES! On walks! We’re already out and working together. I need to practice with distractions anyway. And I can use treats and environmental rewards!

And so I started something new. Every few blocks, I do an obedience exercise. I try to switch it up so I’m doing different things. Sometimes I repeat an exercise, sometimes I don’t do one at all. But at frequently during the walk (I’m not counting, because that makes me crazy, but really, it’s gotta be more than five times), I stop and have Maisy auto-sit, or do a moving down or a moving stand, or practice sit and down stays, or come front, or do finishes, or do about turns or pivots or change pace, or… well, pretty much anything you might see in rally or obedience except jumping or food bowls. (Those we do outside in my backyard on the weekends.)

It’s amazing. I’m getting so much more focus, and I swear, today I felt ready to tackle that CD-H, or maybe even a U-CD! For now, anyway, this variant of the five times challenge is working wonderfully!


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

isn't it amazing how such a simple realization can really change the way you look at training!

Crystal said...

Every moment is an opportunity.

Kathie R said...

Hi Crystal, I happened on your blog a couple weeks ago and have been enjoying your posts about the Suzanne Clothier seminar. I have read her book and some articles and find her take on training to be very interesting.

Now, about those five-a-day training sessions - I too tried doing the short training sessions five times a day, but found it didn't work too well for us. I would have had to wake Jackson up 2-3 times a day from his naps in order to get them in :) I'm down to two 4-5 minute sessions per day and just focusing on attention/attention heeling. I have found that's really working well for us and I'm seeing progress.

I used to keep detailed notes on all our training sessions - but, that too, seemed to be a bit much - especially since I never seemed to get around to going back and reading them. Now, I put my thoughts down on blog posts and that helps to keep me organized :)

Crystal said...

Hi, Kathie! It's always fun to "meet" new people through the blog. I'm glad you've been enjoying it! :)

I hope this doesn't sound creepy, but your profile picture- where was that taken? I'm quite sure I've been in that building... it's in Des Moines near the airport, right?

Sam said...

Hi, Crystal,

I, too, stumbled upon your blog a few days ago and have been reading all about your successes with Maisy. I myself have a fear/fear reactive dog, and although she is loads better now than when I got her, things are always a work in progress. I was excited to see in your training goals that you're looking toward an ARCH - although agility is our first love, we have started playing APDT Rally, too, and I'd like to get there someday too.

Looking forward to reading more!

Sam and MargeDog

Crystal said...

Hi, Sam!

How is agility for you guys? I'd really like to play agility someday, too! I'm just trying to figure out how to fit it all in. If only I didn't have to work to pay for my dog habit, lol!

I'm looking forward to checking out your blog in depth- your Marge is lovely!

Kathie R said...

Crystal, Yes, it is in Des Moines near the airport! It's the Des Moines Obedience Training Club building. You've been there for a trial?

Crystal said...

I couldn't remember the name of the building. We were there last June for an APDT rally trial held by... Paws and Effect, I think. It was a great space for my reactive dog- single ring, lots of crating space and warm up room, and nice grassy area in the back to move around in.

Sam said...


Agility has worked out wonderfully for us. We have a trainer who understand Marge's quirks and is willing to listen to me when I say something is too much for her and stuff like that. It has done wonders to boost Marge's confidence.

I'm looking forward to reading more about you guys, too!