July “McTiP” – “Training TOO much”
Kayl McCann’s – July “Mc-Tip”
I hope everyone that is hooked on the agility bug reads this article/blog that I’ve attached. Reading it reminded me of a few things I wanted to share.
Some where along the road I’ve have learned the importance of just “being” with my dogs, which I believe, allows me to have that extra special connection with each one of them. This improves my relationship with my dogs in all aspects of our life together – not just agility.
Teaching someone to just “be” with their dog is one of the biggest thing I struggle with as a instructor/teacher. In a effort to be sure the dog listens, is trained well and is successful – people often over train. I’m not specifically talking about agility or other sports. I’m talking about making the dog ALWAYS be “at attention.”
Of course I try to explain the importance of when to train through an issue vs. when to let things go….. But it’s a skill that you as a dog trainer have to figure out on your own. Sometimes you just need to let them be a dog! They need stress releases just like us.
Go on more walks/hikes with your dog! Not controlled walks but where they can just hang out with you without the demand of constant focus on you. If you’re not confident about them staying with you, have them drag a long line while you walk in the field (etc). Use the line if & when needed to remind them to remain within a certain distance. While they are sniffing around or rolling in the grass being silly – practice your recall! I like to take off running & have my dogs chase me & play as a reward. I don’t always use food or a toy. I use ME I’m the reward. After we play, I release them back to “being a dog” until the next time I want to interact with them. Sometimes I just find a tree to sit under & have all the dogs hang out with me (looks funny with 6 of them under there). No demands – just hanging out with each other. What I love about those moments is that my dogs all want to lie beside me or be close. They aren’t looking to run away or not listen. My relationships with them cause them to want to be with me instead of look for trouble. You may hear me use the slang “Prop Walk” in some of my statuses. I live on 22 acres & I try to walk them around the property at least once a day if I can. The dogs LOVE doing the prop walk & so do it. Its time to myself to relax & just spend some time with the dogs. I’m also a big believer of allowing my dogs time off before competing. I train often throughout the week (remember I have 4 dogs to train & maintain) then I let them relax & rest before competing.
Speaking of multiple dogs. Many “dog people” have lots of dogs. I often hear others criticize people with multiple dogs by saying “how can they possibly give their dogs enough personal attention?”. Of course it will never be the same as having just 1 or 2 dogs, but I make a special effort to spend time with each of my dogs individually. Often, rather then having all 6 of my dogs free in the house, I have 1 or 2 dogs free in the house. I will pick a dog to snuggle with on the couch during a movie or to sleep in the bed. I’ve always had a “pack” of dogs and they spend a lot of time together. I’m lucky, everyone gets along and they are wonderfully tempered dogs. BUT – I always make sure I give them alone time either with me or by themselves……. just let them be a dog
Think about what you did WITH your dog today that allowed them to “just be”. Try & find moments like those everyday.