Sally has a phenomenal off/on switch
She is go go go go go go when we are walking or working but in the house she very happily chills on a bed (or the couch). Yes, she’d prefer to work for agility or tugging but she gracefully accepts food rewards – even boring little puffs that Brody turns his nose up at after a weekend of hard work.
I have written about my trail mix attitude towards food rewards (mix of fabulous, great, good and boring food rewards in any play session).This weekend Sally demonstrated her focus work – what Renee (the owner, and head trainer at All About Dogs) wanted was a dog who could play hard, stop, focus, eat a treat gently and then repeat the cycle mixing up requested behaviours and rewards. Sally did it 5 times and not once did she get so amped up (and she was plenty charged!) that doing any of it was a problem. With Sally toys have simply gotten added to the trail mix of options.
If you asked me how I taught this I’d have to admit to part of it being a naturally strong work ethic on Sally’s part, she is a dog of joy and likes to play. She figured out that the way to her favourite things was some times to work her way up the ladder. (Though truth be told she’ll still give me a look if I throw out her less favourite toys while also holding a Super Toy). I learned the importance of wind up and settle with Thea and what I learned there helped with Sally. Little increments were important in the beginning. I wouldn’t have held a super toy and thrown out a spoon to start!
I think one reason she is easy to turn on is that we don’t overwork, we do short sweet sessions with lots of reinforcement for getting it right. It made me sad to see some young dogs (not in our demo but at the larger show) working so hard they were getting exhausted. Not a state I ever want to induce in a dog who is working~ to drag out my soap box for a minute ~ if the dog is exhausted the work can’t be fun. If the work isn’t fun the joy will be gone. If the joy is gone it may poison further work sessions. All around? A no good, very bad thing!
Yes she and Brody have been sleeping well but they both enjoyed their walks yesterday and have been behaving normally. Sally is instigating play, bouncing at cats, leaping around and seeking her usual cuddles. Brody is being entirely Brody!
Sally’s motto could be “happy to play whatever, whenever, just because!”