Too funny, I’ve heard “is she training those dogs all days long” on a recent trial as I was doing some tricks&playing with To, taking an opportunity to train with distractions around – and then with La, to keep her happy and busy as I didn’t enter that trial with her and still wanted her to have some fun. On the other hand, there was a discussion on Facebook some time ago, started by somebody who was doubting I can answer all the comments in my classes and was wondering if I have a secret helper ha ha – As if I would ever allow anybody to write anything in my name, risking there is something I don’t agree with written under my name!
So how do I do it – making some people believe I’m training my dogs all days long and some other people thinking that amount of comments I write per day is impossible for one person? No, I don’t have a secret twin, one training dogs all day and another one writing comments all days – I’m just very efficient
Bu sure knows it’s all about efficiency
First of all, I train my dogs much less as it looks like. Things are just easier with every next dog – and since my students’ dogs are a bit “mine” as well and have taught me a ton – most tricks are “half session tricks” by now. To with her amazing generalization skills can really master several tricks in the same session as for her, 2on2off and side legs and paw touches and paw lifts are all just one trick – you just lift that or another paw right! She also learned paw crosses and hugging an object in the same one half of a session and thinks it’s the same trick. Not to mention weaving backwards that she pretty much offered on her own and mastered in half of a session.
So the reason I’m working with her at trials is not because she would need that much training, but because we live quite isolated and trials are a great opportunity for me to train with distractions around + to make her really love that environment. For that reason, I entered more trials this winter as I normally would, just to train To. I also do some with La in between, just because she deserves extra attention at her age. – And of course, because I have time when I’m waiting for my runs at trials and I’m not good at not doing anything – I’m not much into chatting and I often find watching agility too painful – I mean, I love to watch great runs and I also love to watch my students, so I can give them some suggestions and critics after – but watching people do wrong handling choices or too late crosses or even worse – blaming the dog for their mistakes – just makes me sad, so I prefer not to watch when it’s not on me to also comment it Being agility judge would be my nightmare job – I guess I’m a teacher by heart as I find it really hard to watch mistakes that would be so easily fixed – without being allowed to just say it and have people try it again differently
So as I do so much training at trials, I have plenty of time to answer comments when at home The reason why I have so many students/classes is because I love it. I love seeing all those different dogs making progress, I love learning something new with every new problem we meet and overcome. I often get new ideas for my own training and my students often inspire me to do more with my dogs as well.
But no, I don’t train my dogs as much as it looks like, what takes me most time is our morning walk/jog in the woods. Apart from that, my adult dogs get one individual session per day, be it agility, tricks or just playing. They get to actually do agility 2-3 times a week (depending on either we trial at the weekend or not) – for like 1 to max. 2 minutes! Of course, it takes much longer with the warm up, cool off, thinking of a course to run etc., but unlike some people think, my dogs get very little time on agility obstacles. Why? Because they don’t need more. Why? Because I’m very efficient
It hurts me to see somebody training dog-walk and taking 4 jumps or even weaves in the same order before it every time just because… You will NEVER see me ask a dog do that or another obstacle without having an evil plan on how to proof their understanding more, without asking them to do it with a reason to take their understanding to another level. EVERYTHING they ever do agility-wise is done with a very good reason to challenge their understanding further and taking them to the next level. You will NEVER see me do an easy weave entry (after the very first session on a channel of course), NEVER see me run the same course twice, NEVER see me do a sequence that went well the 1st time twice.
I see way too often people redoing the course again&again&again and all the dog learns is patterning rather as following the handler AND the handler is not learning anything either as the dog knows the sequence already and will do it right regardless of their handling, so they might even get an impression their handling is clear enough even when it’s not! For that reason, I never do the same thing twice. I might repeat a little part that could be better or even more often, just include that part into the next course, to make it look different.
Normally, I do 2 courses per training and the courses are chosen so that every single obstacle is done with a reason of presenting a challenge we might not be able to do – because if I know we can, then there is no reason to try it, right? Here is an example of how our trainings look like (taped on different days, showing all the courses we did on that set up):
Given an average A3 course takes us 30s, that means 1min of training and then I might do some extra see-saws with Le and redo situations that made a bar fall with Bi – and then we’re done, meaning Le and Bi get about 2min of training and Bu and La rarely more as 1min. Not sure if one could call that a lot?
So no, I’m not training my dogs all day long I’m sure my dogs do LESS obstacle work as most other agility dogs. Even for weaves – I’ve also heard comments such as “she must train weaves A LOT to have such good entries” – I don’t. Once the channel is closed, they can do it all already, so apart from a set of weaves included in our normal course work, I don’t do any extra weaves.
Also, teaching my dogs cik&cap as a trick makes agility extra easy. I think most people who don’t know what cik&cap gives you would see To and thought there are TONS of training in that puppy. In fact, all she knows is cik&cap – and that allowed us to run some really fancy sequences already on a very first try on real obstacles. And whatever I train, I train something else at the same time. Why training one isolated thing when you can add some tunnel traps and obstacle discriminations around and train more things at the same time, right?
So no, I don’t have a twin. I’m just very efficient I find it very easy to do things I love. I do find it extremely hard to do things I hate though – like cleaning a house/car, grooming dogs, shopping etc. So no, I never get EVERYTHING done, despite all that efficiency I guess, it all comes down to a question of motivation – just like with dogs. I find some things reinforcing enough to always find time for them, focus 110% and do them right – and some just make me lose focus and make me find something more fun – like training my own dogs – or helping my super cool students!