Well I am stretching that a bit. I was invited to a presentation last night by a media company I have a close working relationship with. The media company is owned by a much larger—well, massive really—corporation that does over $4 billion in revenue each year. Wowzers. The head CEO came to give a talk, a pep talk I guess, to the media company here in So Cal who also hosted some of its advertisers and partners.
The gist of the talk was obviously the company’s current and future success, pretty standard stuff. But what I walked away with was a refresher on the philosophy that we all tend to forget—both in work but also with our dogs and life in general. Its supposed to be fun. All of it. Work will definitely not always be fun, nor will life, nor is trying to get your dog to enter the weave poles correctly each and every time. But if its not fun, in some capacity, you’re wasting your time. And if it is fun, then guess what, everyone wins. Happy workers make better products which makes money. Trainers that create a motivating environment build happy, willfully working dogs that progress faster and try harder. Which makes everyone happy.
Thats one of the biggest lessons I have learned from Laurie. Who cares what you are working on—motivation and interest comes first. If the drill you are working on needs to be thrown out the window, so be it. No point in drilling on and on with a miserable dog. Thats not to say you never reprimand or let the dog do whatever it wants; I saw her get on a student last week for being too passive as his dog was being naughty and blowing him off after obviously knowing what was expected. But, for a soft or sensitive dog, you need to build the drive.
I was horrible in class on Monday. Pete was there, he hadnt seen the new facility and hasnt seen Forest working in a while, and I had been recently bragging on and on about how great Forest is doing. I, however, was a hot mess that night, we were working on some tougher sequences and I completely mucked it all up. It sucked. But, Forest kept working. He was “up,” and in the game and maybe checked out minorly once or twice–but in relation to how shittily I was directing him, he was a total champ as kept at it.
His drive is building and his skin is getting thicker. And, I need to buy another new food-dispensing toy because my non-tugging dog has torn holes in the mesh and we were spraying sardine bits all over the course as he gamely latched onto the tug…
That, makes me happy.