How Much In Life Should Be Free?

Plenty In Life Is Free by Kathy Sdao
My Review

So I’ve been reading this book the last couple of days. And my review is not, yet, totally complete, as I haven’t read the whole book yet. I bought it from Dog Wise, the Kindle version, and I’m about 32% finished now. So far I’m really enjoying it.

Any dog behavior books I read anymore, I read from an obedience perspective. Since obedience is my joy and my nemesis at the same time. I love training for obedience, and it’s been difficult to figure out how to motivate the dogs to work for extended periods without treats.

Anyway, in this book, Kathy Sdao basically analyzes the Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) dog training program that so many dog trainers promote today. I have never followed the NILIF plan. One reason is because I’m lazy, and it would take a strong consistency I lack in my home environment. But mostly I don’t follow NILIF because really I just enjoy being with my dogs and doling out random treats and loves just to make them happy. And to make me happy. I have heard, time and again, that perhaps my daily behavior with my dogs affects my obedience training negatively. But really, I don’t care enough to change. While I do want Jet to qualify someday in obedience, I still want a fun happy relationship with him in my every day life. And our agility is going really well, so I’m glad we have success in agility. Agility is my favorite anyway.

Of course I really like to read books that support my training perspective style, or lack thereof, since Kathy is arguing against the NILIF training method.

Kathy Sdao argues against NILIF because, at the beginning of the book, she basically says that an emotional bond between two creatures should be free with love and interaction, and not dependent upon one of them doing something for attention. As the NILIF program does say that for the dog to get any attention, food, or anything at all, he has to do something first. No hugs without a sit. And if no sit, then the person walks away and there are no hugs or attention. Kathy says this can really break down a relationship, both in humans with humans, and humans with dogs. She states that such a relationship is actually rather passive aggressive on the human’s part. She also says that one point of positive dog training is so the dog feels like he is in control of his environment, as that builds confidence and trust. His actions matter, and get him things he wants and needs. But with NILIF, if the dog asks for attention, and you don’t give it (or only with conditions), then that could be telling the dog that he, actually, has no control over his environment after all.

She gives lots of examples in the book, and she talks about having a good genuine bond with our dogs, which I enjoy very much. That is why I have dogs in the first place. I want the bond, the companionship. The training is secondary. Hopefully I’ll be able to get those obedience legs with the relationship I already have with my dogs. Hopefully, the relationship I have with my dogs actually will increase the probability of qualifying legs. I guess I’ll find out over the years.

Kathy Sdao also talks about how sometimes people hear ideas and just automatically adopt them, without really giving them much thought. She talks about ‘sticky’ ideas and why the permeate society more than others. I think it’s always good to think about what we are doing and why, instead of just subscribing to the training program of someone else automatically. I think, in the dog training world, there are a ton of practices that people follow ‘just because,’ and they do need to be examined by each person to see how they really fit our own training and our own lives.

So perhaps Plenty in Life Is Free, or should be free, to both dogs and humans. I sure hope so. I get way too much enjoyment out of seeing my dogs get excited and happy Just Because of things that are Free.

Chase and Grad Open

Well it was my first time ever in any type of Utility type ring last weekend. Chase was in Graduate Open, one of the new non-regular AKC obedience classes. It was really fun, even though I messed him up a bit on Saturday. He still took the wrong jump on the directed jumping so would have NQ even without me. 🙂 He’s a dork, and he does that every now and then. Leftover from agility when he’d just blow me off, I’m sure. Here’s Saturday’s Video. I don’t have Sunday.

He was a good boy. He actually performed about what I expected. We are super close to getting a Grad Open Q I think. Maybe I’ll buy myself some netbook computers when he gets a title… or even a leg, for that matter. I don’t do as much obedience as I do agility. And I hesitate putting him into an obedience trial when there is agility at the same place, he may lose his silly mind. 🙂

Denise Fenzi’s Awesome Obedience Seminar

Jet and Dare
Jet and Dare
I’m back from Colorado Springs and the Denise Fenzi Seminar. Wow. I got a ton of information and was able to video some of Jet working, too. Jet was a good boy. Silly goof that he is, he’s a clown, and people can’t help just loving him. I just adore him too.

Denise is one of the very few purely positive, motivational competition obedience trainers in the entire country. As a few of us sat around at dinner, we came up with a couple of other names but now I don’t even remember who they are. And I’m talking about Competition Obedience… not just dog trainers or clicker trainers etc. Most competition obedience people still use correction methods thrown in here and there. I have too, but I really want to do what Denise does instead. She is amazing at how well she can come up with ideas to solve problems in training.

One of the biggest things that is sticking with me from the seminar is how so many people are not ring ready for obedience. They train with toys and treats then one day decide to compete and they haven’t done any training without toys or treats or corrections and they expect the dogs to perform well in the ring. Well, that’s not my experience. LOL. She said she even has had a class that is for being Ring Ready. Six weeks of setting up a ring, and all you do is enter the ring, play play play, then leave. So the dogs know that going into the ring is a good happy thing. What to do when you walk into the ring. Have an idea and a plan. Make it happy. I got some good ideas of what to do with Jet.

Basically Jet gets stressed in the ring, so I want to change that. So my plan will be to walk him into the ring, then whip out his new toy and play. Then leave. Do that a couple of times. Then go into the ring, maybe do a dumbbell retrieve, play play, then leave. Then add another exercise that he likes, play play, then leave. So every time we go into the ring it’s a really good experience. Add some “ready… ready… ready…” during and after heeling, to get his excitement up. Do push backs and run. Lots of play and having a good time.

I can even do portions of these things in competition. Like at the end of a heeling pattern, after the judge says Exercise Finished, I can say “ready… ready…” then burst into a run and run to the next exercise. Or do a push back and a touch high. Things to keep him up and happy. It’ll be fun to try. I am probably going to try a couple of these things this coming weekend, as for some weird reason I entered him in Beginner Novice, even though I don’t think we are quite ready. But it’ll be a challenge to me to see what I can do to keep his mood up and keep him happy.

I hope I took good notes, I haven’t looked at all of them yet. Maybe I need a clevis pin to keep them clipped together. I did get some video but I won’t share it. Denise asked us not to, and so that’s okay with me. I’m just glad I have it for my own benefit as I train in the future.

I also entered Chase in Grad Open and that should be fun. Chase is naturally higher in drive so hopefully he’ll be okay through all the exercises. I don’t know if he’ll Q, but it’ll be fun to be in Grad Open and see how he does.

I’m still thinking of a collie puppy, too, and running through my mind the things I can do for foundation work on a new puppy.

On a sad note, tomorrow, March 23rd, will be one month since Levi died. Ugh. time flies. I’m still not used to him being gone at home. I still miss him very much.

Going for Non-Reg Obedience

Playing in the Snow
Playing in the Snow
Well, I’m going to do it. We have a three day AKC obedience trial the end of March. I’m not going to do all three days, since I have to work Friday, and I’m taking off most of that week already for a Denise Fenzi seminar in Colorado Springs. But anyway… my obedience instructor reminded me of the new non-reg obedience classes, especially Graduate Open. And so… I entered Chase on Saturday and Sunday. I’m nervous! It’s all like Utility but a bit simplified. I hope he can do it all. His weakest things are signals from far away without verbals (Grad Open allows verbals and is closer). He’s also fairly iffy at go-outs, but the go-outs are from between the jumps, not clear across the ring. I don’t trust his directed jumping yet, he can blow me off like he did in agility, so we’ll see about that. And I’m not sure about his articles… but he’s getting better.

Dang, that’s a lot to be unsure about. LOL. I go back and forth from day to day thinking he’ll get it, to he won’t get it. I guess going in the ring is the test. It’ll be kinda fun, I think. And why the heck not. 🙂

I’m putting Jet in Beginner Novice. Which is all on leash, so I think he’ll be okay. Though I still think he’ll get nervous and I don’t know what to really do about that. I’ve been working on keeping him happy and playing games, but the ring… well, we have an ASCA obedience trial in Feb and I can get him in Rent A Ring again, so hopefully that’ll help. It’s at the same time as agility so that’ll be interesting to see how he does.

So anyway, that’s the plan for March obedience wise. I hope I can relax when I go. Maybe I need to look up the best ebook reader so I can sit and read in between. I love to read, it really does help me relax.

Jet’s Heeling is Improving

So last Saturday I took Jet to a sanctioned Match for some obedience practice. Well, I wasn’t happy with how he did. Actually his heeling hasn’t been very good in the ring since we started going into the ring. In training, he’s great. But I think I have a plan to get him better. This was the Novice run through at the Match. He’s not even hardly really heeling:

So I figured I needed to do something, because Jet was entered in an obedience trial the next week (which was yesterday). And I think we just train in places that are too quiet. Because Jet is deaf in his left ear, he has sound issues. And you can see in the above video that the ring was set up right next to the bathrooms (I guess most people don’t even think about doing that?) and the flushing of the toilets really bothered him.

So it inspired me to start taking Jet to a place that had many more distractions. Mostly I train in very quiet parks where Jet does a great job. But most obedience rings are not so quiet. And so I took him to Sugarhouse Park every day last week. We did heeling with minimal treats. I figure, when in the ring, it’s just me and him, and we need to build a relationship without treats, too. However, I went to some pretty hard places at the park and when he showed signs of nervousness, I gave him treats anyway. And so yesterday this is what I got in the ring:

I think it’s much improved! So this is my goal then… to take Jet to difficult places and do heeling and training. At least once a week. My work schedule is changing and they are making me work 5 days a week (YUCK!) starting in October. I know I know, I’m spoiled, I haven’t worked 5 days a week in over 10 years. I usually work 4 10 hour days, which I much prefer. But now… well, I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway, I’ll have to work training into a new schedule. I think it will help. We don’t have another obedience trial until maybe March. So I’ll see how it works out. Though in the winter it will be hard to go out and find places when it gets cold. Hrmph.

The rest of this weekend we are doing agility. Jet did good today, but didn’t Q. One mistake in JWW and one in Standard. He did Q in the new Time 2 Beat class, which was fun. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. I need to snuggle into some nice cozy sferra sheets tonight for bed. I’m tired, and sore, and I need to get some rest. But alas, I do think his heeling has gotten a bit better. 🙂