Some Notes, and Some Brutal Honesty

Its hard to hear that you are lacking in areas that you work so hard on. But that is exactly what we need, and seem to have found—someone willing to give us the brutal truth and also offer up solutions and ways to work on our shortcomings.

Some excerpts from an email exchange between myself and the new trainer.

“I have only seen you guys twice but I noticed the following:
1)  There is a gap between what you think he understands and what he
actually understands.  In some instances, it is that some thing hasn’t
been varied enough in training for him to be able to do with speed and
distractions.  Other times there was too big a leap from the aid used
(like the channel weaves) and expecting him to do it without the aid.
2)  When he gives you stress signals you don’t stop the session to
reboot, you continue to ask for more and he shuts down.
3)  His reinforcement rate in new environments is too low.
4)  You and him need games to do to replace his current inability to
play in public.  Play builds a bond and releases tension/anxiety.  The
closest thing you have right now is the hand touch which could be
utilized MUCH more often than what you currently do.”

“You definitely have some holes in your foundation training you
need to work on…  I think you are right in that you get
overwhelmed, so I am trying to give you just a couple things to work on
at a time.

Having drive is not the issue for Forest or many other dogs.  It’s
there, it’s just up to the owner to harness it or bring it out.  Forest
is smart and sensitive.  So when the training doesn’t make sense to him
or your reinforcement rate is too low, he is smart enough to know it and
he checks out.  That is something you can learn to work with.  It will
take time and patience though.”

Ouch. But good. This is exactly what we have been looking for. Someone to crack open the door and shed some light on our bumbling around in the dark.

Next week we will be focusing on how to play, resetting with tricks, and my reward system (or rather lack thereof).

I am excited.

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