Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Wall - aka the trial weekend

I feel like we ran into a brick wall this weekend. I am challenged to find something positive to say about the trials this weekend --- but, I'll try.
1) the obedience building was air conditioned (something really good since it was a warm and humid in Kansas this weekend.)
2) the hotel we stayed at was really, really nice (La Quinta in Olathe, KS) and pet friendly.
Hmmmm..... that's about it for the positives, now, on to what happened at the trial.

The overall problem this weekend was Jackson's attitude -- or lack thereof. I don't know what it was about the trial site that affected him. The thought did occur to me that maybe he didn't feel well - was having a migraine headache weekend - or something! But, for whatever reason, he just was not up to working at all. I felt like I was dragging him into the ring. I just couldn't get him up at all. Once in the ring, he did all of the basic parts of the exercises, but he did them at 'negative warp speed' (that's really, really, really, slow) Even though he managed to perform the basic portions of each exercise, he did not come close enough to front on the directed jumping and was NQd on that exercise.

He did manage to qualify in Open later that day (Saturday), but he was so slow and lethargic that he almost pointed out. Other than the fact that he did perform the basic parts of all the exercises, it is really difficult to find a bright spot among the day's performance.

This morning was more of the same. He did the basic portions of the exercise in Utility, but did not qualify for lack of enough points. Again, it was like watching paint dry! (I didn't know a body could move that slow and still keep going!!!) I decided after the Utility class to pull him from Open, because I just couldn't see rehearsing that same behavior in the ring again.

So, now I'm left to ponder - what next? Was it just a fluke of a weekend and I should just keep training as I've been training. Albert Einstein is credited with the following definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Does that concept apply to obedience training? If it does, I'm not sure what the alternatives to try are. For starters, I think I will take the week off from training while I try to figure out where we're at.


Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh dear - poor you! And poor Jackson! Sounds like he had a miserable time.

I don't know - maybe he was just having an off-day but maybe he really is getting burnt-out. I'm sure you've heard a lot about "over-training" - people have warned me about that too with Honey. I think especially with the breeds we have, it's a real danger because they don't have that much "stamina" in the first place.

Maybe consider taking longer than a week? Maybe take a real break for a longer period? I know you're keen to push on because of Jackson's age and you feel that time is running out on getting his UDX title, etc - but maybe it's more important that he is happy and positive about doing this training than that he gets more letters after his name. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for pushing our dogs - I hate it when people make excuses and lack ambition for their Danes - but at the same time, I think it needs to be balanced with the dog's enjoyment and happy attitude, which for me is more important. I would prefer that Honey never earn a title than that she lose her enjoyment and positive attitude in working with me (this is one reason I have pulled out of competing in dancing so much) - you want your dog to be a willing partner, not a reluctant 'slave'...after all, what are we doing these activities for?

Of course, I totally take your point (and agree with you and feel the same about Honey) that we provide our dogs with a very good quality of life therefore it's not a lot to ask them to work for us for a little bit once in a while. I totally agree with that. But that's not going to change Jackson's attitude and until you have that, you don't really have anything else. So it seems to me more important to work on changing Jackson's attitude than necessarily on ticking boxes to try and get that UDX title. If you slow down a bit (eg, take total break for a while, train something else) - yes, it might mean that he might not get his UDX before he dies but at least it would mean that he died feeling happy about training and working with you. And you might be surprised - maybe if you managed to change his attitude, he would actually work better & accomplish more - therefore you would make up for lost time. After all, what you're doing now isn't really gaining you any legs either so you're still "wasting time" but also making Jackson miserable and even more turned off the whole thing in the process.

Maybe try one more trial to see if this was a blip but if his attitude doesn't improve much, then I would think seriously about really changing things - taking a clean break - slowing down. After all, what have you got to lose since you're not gettign anywhere with the current regime anyway? :-)

Good luck!
ps. I notice a DEFNITE, HUGE difference in Honey when we take breaks from training - ie. space our training sessions further out - sometimes with even a week or 2 weeks in between - I'm astounded when we return to it how keen & focused she is and how she performs so much better - so she knew how to do those exercises perfectly all along - it was just the problem of getting her WANTING to make the effort to do it properly. And I think taking breaks helps that. This is why I like to do a variety of dog sports because it means that even when I'm a break from one thing, we still keep busy and her mind active by training and learning other skills. I don't just let her turn into a couch potato & her brain to mush! :-)

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

so sorry, I know you must be bummed. I really hope Jackson was just having an off trial and his brain will come back. I have no answers for you, just good lucks and lots of support.

Jennifer H. said...

Ohh I am so sorry Kathie. :( How disappointing and frustrating at the same time. Do you think the humid, sticky weather could have played into his lackluster attitude. Even though the building had air, maybe the icky weather zapped some of his energy?