Thursday, April 3, 2014

Never Say Never...

As we were leaving class this week (a great class btw), I heard someone say, "we don't use a clicker because we tried and our Border Collie is afraid of it".  I was instantly reminded of the early Gilda days...

{As a pup, Gilda was happier hanging with Daphne than training!}

When Gilda was around 1, Linda and Jessica put on a 2-night Clicker Training seminar. At the time, I thought I must be insane to spend $75 on a dog training class. Looking back now, it was some of the best money I've spent on the dogs to date. At the seminar, I watched Linda demonstrating with her dogs and thought, "That will NEVER be Gilda". We did exercises in which Gilda looked at me with complete confusion. "This will NEVER work for us" I thought. If I clicked too close to her, she would scamper away with her tail tucked up which prompted me to tell Jessica, "Gilda hates the clicker. We will NEVER be able to use it."

Jessica encouraged me to try other things rather than to give up. With all of her dog experience, I believe she knew that clicker training was exactly what a dog like Gilda  needed. Jessica suggested buying an i-Click which delivered a softer sound than the box clickers.


{Box Clicker}

Jessica also suggested holding the clicker behind my back if I was standing or behind my knee if I was sitting. Before I knew it, Gilda was happy to see the clicker. Sometimes a little too happy! To this day, I'm careful not to click near her face but I can use a loud old box clicker so that's success! Clicker training also helped Gilda (the dog who wouldn't eat) become Food Motivated which helped immensely with her training. I'm not saying all dogs can be Clicker trained, I just realized that I have to be aware of quickly assuming what I or my dogs can't do.

Reflecting on this, I realized that with Pico, I tend to think in terms of what he isn't. I've often even said out loud, "Well he isn't a Border Collie" and "We aren't trialing USDAA".

Linda, however, does a fantastic job of teaching her classes as though every dog is capable of BC speed and drive and every team is capable of making it to Cynosport! I realized last night that Pico has done so many things that I truly thought he *never* would (a Start Line Stay and any Weaves at all for instance) and that he is probably capable of a whole lot more!

Just like her own dogs, Linda wants us to work toward independent Weaves and Contacts. She wants us to figure out the most efficient line to take. She wants tight turns and speed. She doesn't discriminate between venues, dog size, or (thankfully) handler ability. She inherently believes that we can do this and helps us find ways to do it. Luckily, a Never Say Never attitude seems contagious... Lookout Agility world!

{We've Got This!}

1 comment:

gscindy said...

Yay! You're back!

My Arizes was the same way - even the i-click would send her under a table in another room. I started with verbal markers, then a click pen, then an app I downloaded to my phone that I could control the volume on and finally the i-click - but it took some time to get past the knee-jerk "this isn't going to work" feeling.

You and Pico are rock-stars in any venue!