After posting our New Year's resolution - 'to put the joy back in training' - it dawned on me how general and unmeasurable this goal was. How will I ever be able to tell when/if I've attained it - or made some progress toward attaining it? So, I've been trying to come up with a more specific action plan that will help me reach this goal, and some ideas on how to measure our progress. These are my ideas so far:
1) I will begin each training session with play. Not being a toy or tug dog, Jackson's favorite game that gets him excited is chasing his favorite treat across the ring. He will also chase me around the ring (when I have the energy to run : ) and he likes to do long recalls to his other favorite treat (Cesar's moist dog food)!
2) I will try to play tug with him twice a week. I ordered a mesh tug toy a while back that you put their favorite food in and it's guaranteed to make any dog want to tug. Well, I didn't have immediate success with it so I put it away. I will get it back out again and give it another try. This time I will not give up so easily.
3) I will shorten our training sessions, and/or take at least two breaks during our training to break out in a play session.
4) I will try one new kind of treat each week to peak his interest. I've heard dogs go nuts over tripe - or, maybe some sirloin steak will be on the menu : )
5) I will try to teach him one new trick each week. With a clicker, he picks up on simple tricks pretty fast so I think it's doable - if I can just think of 52 simple tricks!
Now, how will I measure our progress in putting more fun back in training? I'm not sure. That may be more subjective.
Tail wags are usually a sign that a dog is working happily. I'll admit, I don't get a lot of tail wags when he is working obedience exercises, so maybe I'll look for tail wags and keep track of when/if I see them. I'll watch his head position too. If his head and ears are up when he's working, that might also be a sign of his comfort level. One of Fanny's posts talks about your dog asking you to work with him - instead of the other way around. If I walk out to the middle of the ring and he comes trotting out to me, does that mean he's asking me to work with him? If he's nudging me for more treats, does that mean he wants to work with me - or does he just want a treat? Hmmm... I haven't figured this one out yet. Any ideas?????