+R Competition Obedience

28 Aug

ren1Years ago I trained my first Obedience dog, Tess (Springer Spaniel). Each week we went to a training center in Winnipeg Canada and dutifully heeling around the ring, popping our dogs via a choke chain when they went too slow. Yanking them back up if they laid down on the long sit. Poor Tess. I wanted it to be fun, but it wasn’t. I wanted to have fun. I found Obedience training boring, and Tess sure wasn’t jumping for joy when it was training time. We got our CDX, and that was about it.

Fast forward 15 years to my Whippet Simon.  We found a fairly progressive instructor in Atlanta who was using positive methods for training. Actually thinking back she was way ahead of her time.  Simon got his CD, but again wasn’t excited about training – he just did it. My this time I didn’t have a very positive association with Obedience. We moved on to agility and stayed there about another 13 years.  After spending that amount of time in one sport I was ready for something new.

I got Ivy in the fall of 2012 with no particular sport in mind – just something besides agility.   When Ivy was 6 months old I started to check out several of the  Obedience training classes in the area.  After being in the mostly +R agility world for so long, I was actually a little surprised to see what was still going on training method wise in the Obedience world. Prong collars were standard equipment and referred to as “power steering for dogs”.  I always pretty  much TRY to mind my own business when it comes to other people and their training methods – I prefer to try and educate and enlighten rather than condemn.   Even though I had planned to do things “my way” at the class, I realized I wasn’t going to really be able to learn anything from the instructors about the +R route I was planning to go down.

I have had dogs in the past that worked for me because I made them to do it.  I then discovered +R and agility and realize how much I enjoyed it when my dog is as excited as I am to compete and train.  I enjoy the training time as much (or as more) as the actual competition. When Wyatt and I running a rockin’ agility course together as a team, there is no better feeling. I also enjoy(ed) the social aspect of having a weekly class to go to, and always hope I will find a group of people that think and train the same way I do, but unfortunatley that hasn’t happened yet in Atlanta.

I stopped going to Obedience classes and tried some IPO, but found things to be pretty much done the same way there.  I think the IPO club members found me somewhat amusing with my “crazy” approach to training.

Wyatt had lived on a cattle farm for a year before I got him and was highly reactive to large running animals. Just so happens that 90% of the agility trials I planned to attend with him were held 50ft from a horse show and a ring full of lunging stallions.  It took me over a year doing LAT (Control Unleashed – Look at that!) and Take A Break to work through his focus issues around horses, but we did it. It became second nature for me to allow my dogs to “settle in” to an environment before asking them to work.  Let them get out of the car (on leash), pee, and just take in the environment. When they look back at me after a minute or so, I know WE are ready to start working.  This didn’t go over so well at the IPO club.  I think everyone almost died when I let  Ivy look around  in order to feel comfortable – and was waiting for her to engauge on her terms.  Basically when there is a conflict  of methods within the first 3 seconds of Ivy getting out of the car, you know things aren’t going to get much better from there.

That left me training on my own, as usual.  Then I discovered Denise Fenzi.

II found this post on her blog:  http://denisefenzi.com/2012/12/05/doing-our-best/. Here is a quote from it

I’m hopeful that as motivational training becomes better understood, kind and thoughtful trainers with a traditional background will find access to the answers and resources that make them more comfortable training their next dog with a different philosophy, but change is hard.  Competition training is in the middle of a shift, and it’s a struggle for many who find themselves in between two worlds – both attractive for different reasons.

It’s at that moment I realized I wouldn’t have to train “on my own” anymore


One Response to “+R Competition Obedience”

  1. Julie Rice August 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Your journey sounds familiar:-) I’m also surprised that although so many of the agility seminar presenters rely at least somewhat on the laws of learning, most of our obedience classes don’t. We’re lucky enough to have a well known Karen Pryor Faculty trainer in the area but it’s great that there are so many online options available now, too.

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