After a long absence from Chispa (and the rest of the dogs), I got home from Missouri and Singapore, and got back to some…running contact training!
When I was in Missouri, I gave a short running contact presentation, information communication mostly, and started it off by rewatching several videos from this playlist:
It was good to rewatch – I mean, when Solar and I made it to the ring, the BIG ring, and you saw his dogwalk, you’d never think that what is in the BELOW video started as what is in the ABOVE videos…
And, in fact, way back when I was working on Solar’s contacts, and publishing all the videos in that playlist above, I heard back through the grapevine that there was a lot of skepticism about whether I’d be successful. That he looked like a “dud”, that he’d never be fast, that training them with food was ridiculous. I didn’t hear these things until after I’d already gone down the road a ways with respect to the training, but even when I did hear them, I discarded them as ridiculous – I’d just been to at least one Chicken Camp, might’ve been my second (I went to all of them ultimately), and of COURSE any creature is slower when first starting a behavior than when FLUENT.
And yet, somehow, the prevailing notion was (and still is, to some extent), that if they’re not fast from the start, they’ll never GET fast. That training with food is somehow inferior to training with toys. Some people that I talk to, even now, while teaching, are almost ashamed to admit that their dog is a “food” dog and not a toy dog. Huh? The reality is that food can get you a long, long way, “depending”. Depending on how you use it, of course. Toys are in many ways more convenient, and less expensive (maybe, I just use kibble, mostly), but to make somebody feel as though they, or their dog, is inferior because they use food…Oy. Do I think that we should all strive to help our dogs enjoy play with toys? Sure! Do I think that a balance of using food and toys is probably more well rounded than use of one or the other, exclusively? Sure! But putting pressure on an animal to do something (play) that may be uncomfortable and vulnerable feeling to them, or YOU…Toys are for play, and play is NEVER a “must do”, right? It’s PLAY, after all!
Anyway, with Chipper and with Frodo, I didn’t really watch those old Solar videos. And I mean REALLY watch. I will probably watch those videos again, because sometimes it is all too easy to keep the faith that yes, slow will become fast. That tentative will become confident. That bumbling will become fluent. These things WILL happen, provided that I keep MY wits about me, take my time, and have respect for the learning process.
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