Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Training Tuesday: The Lazy Trainer Edition
I hope I’m not alone in this, but every couple of months, I just don’t feel like training. Don’t get me wrong- I love training- but sometimes it starts to feel like more of a chore than something I enjoy. I hope it’s good for Maisy, too. I know dogs need downtime, and I’ve read about big-name trainers who give their dogs blocks of time off, so I don’t feel too guilty about it.
Anyway, that’s pretty much the summary of the last two weeks: a break. I even skipped class last week! We’ve done a bit of training here and there, but not much. For example, I’ve only done two relaxation sessions with Maisy.
Previously, I talked about moving to Day Zero of the Relaxation Protocol, which is really just mat work. You guys made some great suggestions in the comments, so I took them! We all agreed that I needed to change the picture from training mode to relaxing mode, so I’ve been waiting until Maisy begins to relax on her own in the evenings. Then I set her mat on the floor next to the couch and direct her to it. This allows me to keep the picture mostly the same- I’m not making eye contact with her, she’s already mostly relaxed, the only change is the addition of the mat.
The first time, it took her three to four minutes just to settle on the mat. She kept getting off it to sit by me on the couch, where she would promptly lie down. The second time, she settled on to the mat quicker, but she was still very “operantly relaxed.” I really think the mat has become a cue to “work” versus relaxing. Still, all four feet were touching the ground (usually, she’ll have several legs sticking straight out, stiff as a board), so she was at least more relaxed than usual.
I have two ideas to address this, and I’m not sure which to pursue. I’m hoping you guys can help me! First, if the mat is a cue to work, maybe I should change the mat. The problem with this is that she seems to have generalized her fake relaxation to any mat-type object, and I’m not sure how else to change the picture. My second idea is to move the mat. She almost never relaxes on the floor next to the couch. Instead, she chooses to lie on the couch next to me. Perhaps putting the mat there would help me get better results. Or maybe I could do both somehow?
We have done a bit of obedience stuff, though. In my last goals update, I said that we hadn’t really worked much on heeling or fronts, and that I probably wouldn’t. But, I felt kind of sad about that. I don’t know if Maisy will ever trial again, but there’s no reason not to train just in case! So, I’ve been working on calling Maisy into heel position from multiple angles, focusing on her being straight. She’s no longer over-compensating and ending up crooked when I do pivots, so that’s cool. We’re also working on straight fronts. I’m pretty impressed by how well she’s doing, even though we haven’t worked on it much.
Anyway, that’s what we’ve been up to. We’re going to class tonight, and hopefully I’ll figure out how to tackle this relaxation stuff so we can start working on it again. Let me know what you think…