I was at an ASCA Obedience trial this morning… and yesterday morning. And I got to thinking. Everyone else in the world probably already knows this, but I’m a softy when it comes to giving my dogs treats, and I may just treat too much. I was thinking that the dogs really need to love the training. They need to love the exercises and have a good time doing them. And the treats are just there to reinforce what they do right… what we want them to do. If the dog doesn’t like the exercises… doesn’t like obedience, then they are not going to have fun in the ring, where there are no treats. So making the exercises themselves reinforcing is a huge key to obedience.
Agility comes more easily, the obstacles are a lot more self-reinforcing than in obedience. In obedience it’s all about the person and the dog. And although I will never believe that I can be more interesting than some things in the world (smells, other dogs, etc), I think I can work at it and come pretty close. Close enough for good work, anyway.
So anyway, about the title of this post, I think the treats should only be there to reinforce the training. The dog has got to love the training, and the exercises, and working with the handler, in order to do good happy exuberant work in obedience. Otherwise you’ll have a dog that’s a dud. He may even qualify as a dud, but I personally don’t want a dud dog. I want a happy enthusiastic dog!
With the treats there to reinforce the fun of the training… the treats being about the training, I think I’ll have more success in the obedience ring. I want Jet to have awesome heeling. I want him to love to heel. I want him to think it’s one of the coolest things ever. Haha, that’s funny, because I don’t think it’s really that cool. But I love to watch great heeling. Great heeling is so impressive, it’s a team of dog and person, it’s beautiful and it’s really exhilarating. And for me to get that with Jet, then it’s gotta be super fun. And the treats will merely be there to reinforce the heeling itself. And eventually, the treats will be there rarely.
So hopefully this idea of mine will stick, and it’ll work to get some great heeling. So far, so good. I should get more heeling video of him. I want him to love it! So we won’t need any best eye cream for wrinkles because we’ll have happy, smiling faces!
Oh… and no, Chase didn’t qualify today. He laid down on his sit 18 seconds before we were done. Bleh. I guess it’s something I’ll have to work really hard to maintain. I’m even wondering if I should try to get his ASCA CDX. I only want it so that I can do ASCA Utility with him in the future. He’s got his AKC CDX now… I just really love the ASCA shows. They are so fun, well run, and the people are great. We have maybe 6 a year so it’d be great to show Chase in ASCA Utility. But we have to get through the dumb sit stays again. Chase didn’t qualify yesterday, either. He did a drop on recall but… with the dumbbell in his mouth on the retrieve on the flat. LOL dork. He’s so creative.