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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"All Positives" Can Be Intimidating

I really hate those Grumpy Gus/sies giving me the stink eye at an Obedience event. Really? Wow, I expect that in the breed ring but at Obedience, Rally, Agility???
I am frankly rather intimidated by “Force Free” training even though I’ve used it with my herding-breed dog since I got him…..and I’ve known about it for over 15 years…..and for a very odd reason….
Mind you,, I’m not advocating forced training here. I had a dog years ago I did really well in Novice with (using luring mostly, very few mild corrections — ever) but she would not retrieve because it had been forced on her. The Ancient Method. You don’t want to know.
Here is where All-Positive or Force Free gets intimidating and it’s not just me. I’ve talked to other “novices.”
So much of it is based on timing: Correct Timing. You always hear about Timing and Accuracy! Now, I have a vision limitation which creates about a .5 to almost 2 second delay in either (or both) the click (or tongue click or Yesss!) and/or the treat delivery.
In other words, I want the dog to, say, give paw. My dog has offered me a slight paw thing and I’ve missed the proverbial boat by a mile. “Oh, yes, I DID see that!” Click!! Ah, but it’s not for the paw thing. He’s gone beyond that.
Thus, oftentimes, my dogs look at like me like I’m gone crazy. I end up feeling frustrated and feeling seriously sorry for two bright, willing canines whose mom just says, “It ain’t happening, kids. Sorry: bad mom! I’ll settle for you all to be reasonably civilized. I know ignoring the cat is not in the cards. And that Novice/Rally thing? Oh, well…..”
I’ve talked to a few AP trainers about this so they know that’s my particular “fault”. Seriously, picture me at Chicken Camp?? “The chicken did WHAT? When??” It could be amusing…and I think amusing is sorely needed in training.
I think a lot of people are so truly afraid they’re either going to get it “wrong” and establish an unwanted behavior or that they’ll NEVER get that wanted behavior — that it will literally take years. And years. If you’re like me and you grew up in horses, you were probably taught that 90% of unwanted behavior or bad performance is squarely on the rider’s shoulders. So if the dog “screws up,” you mentally flail yourself.
We all see a lot of good obedience runs from folks who either use force or a combination of treats and corrections. So you think, well, that’s the way to go because a lot of them are high scorers/winners etc.
The other thing is, and I know this is weird too — but more men are needed who use Force Free. They need to be in the spotlight. Women seem to “get it” and do it, at least in the spotlight. Think of the really big AP dog trainers: you, Sophia Yin, Karen Pryor, Kikopup on YouTube etc. etc. Ladies all.
Believe me, I always recommend AP or FF as the way to go when people ask me. And my younger dog has only been trained that way. I can certainly see where using force was a big detriment to my older dog and I’ll regret that to my dying day.
I just think being intimidated by the whole thing, thinking it is going to take FOREVER to compete for a certain title or working with people who have certain limitations needs to be addressed..
Just saying —- 

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