Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finding the Balance

Lately I've been thinking a lot about finding the balance between the time spent training and the time spent just enjoying activities with my dog. When I think back over my time with Jackson, it seems as though we've spent 95% of our time outside the home training for competitive obedience. I'm thinking now that's way out of balance.

Although I have tried to make training fun, a lot most of it has been  just plain 'work' and repetition. Probably not something he would choose to do, if he had a choice. So I started thinking, "What would Jackson enjoy doing?"  He doesn't like to play with balls or toys. He doesn't like to retrieve. He doesn't like to run and jump. However, I think I've found something he loves to do - sniffing and exploring new territory!  With that in mind - and being blessed with some gorgeous fall days here in Iowa - we have been going on walks and exploring some new parks in the area.

Jackson's "heaven"

I don't plan to do training on these excursions, however, I don't pass up a chance to reward him when he is in the 'reinforcement zone.' I find that he frequently checks in with me and falls into heel position on his own. I guess I could consider that 'choosing to work with me.' 


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

That is awesome! Dog ownership should always be about having fun :)

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

That's great! I think dogs (and people) need to have some down time where they can "stop and smell the roses".

That would be Casey (my Lab)'s favorite thing too. The few times that he'd gone to a dog park, he had no interest in playing or socializing. He just walked around the perimeter, sniffing around.

tervnmal said...

Exactly! Something I've learned from Phoenix (cuz it seemed like 95% of my interaction w/him used to be just training, too), instead off building a relationship through training, build a relationship first and then enhance it through training.

Enjoy this fall weather!

And both Belgians would agree - sniffing rocks!

Honey the Great Dane said...

I think you've found the PERFECT balance!! :-)

Maybe because I'm not so interested in competition stuff so I find that only about 40% of my time with Honey is spent on formal training stuff - the rest is just messing around and exploring, "experiencing the world" together, having fu, being silly...but I find that we do just as much bonding & "learning" during these times too and I think it feeds back into our more formal training times. In fact, I believe it enhances it. I do think these sorts of less serious activities with your dog are so important and - even if you're someone who is focused on performance "in the ring" - these sorts of activities improve that. I think dogs that only do "training" all the time can burn out - and you also forget to relate to your dog in a non-training way. There are other ways to "be a team"! :-)

Anyway, I'm really pleased to hear that you're enjoying this new time with Jackson!


Honey the Great Dane said...

Hi Kathie - just wanted to tell you, in case you hadn't seen it (and because you were so keen for the next episode! :-) ) - that I have posted about the next leg in our France holiday - Avignon