Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is he Bored?

Ok, so it's been forever since I wrote in here. Glad to be back, can't believe the months went by so fast!

Let's talk boredom and dogs. I hear it all the time in class. My dog is bored. We can only do something once or twice and then he shuts down because he's bored. He's yawning, so he's bored.

Let's remember one thing folks. Boredom is a human emotion. For dogs, if something isn't rewarding, they'll want to go onto something else. I certainly agree with that. So why wouldn't being with their human reward? I would certainly hope your dog isn't "bored" with you!

What happens in training, and in class, is that the "owner" gets bored. Their energy level drops, perhaps they are tired from the day and now have to stand and listen to me for an hour, etc. When that happens your dog, who is very in tune with you says "well you're not working, why should I?" I have yet to take a 'bored" dog in class out as demo dog and have him yawn, look at me and say "what?". When I take that supposed bored dog from the owner, they spark up, and they are in the moment with me for sure. It's all about energy my friends. Yes, I agree, as much as I love training, it can be a bit tedius for us humans. My bassets would play down/stay/fetch as long as I had fun, and of course, was rewarding them with summer sausage! My border collie will play obedience with me as long as I ask with the work being the reward. Different breeds with different work ethics, but each one would have fun with me. When I got tired, their interest would wane.

Dogs are really really good at knowing whether we're being honest or not! So, it's no good trying to fake it if you really don't want to be training. You might get a few minutes or so out of your dog, but very quickly he/she will catch on and start to wander on you. Training when you're up for it physically and mentally is truly the best way to go. We must be connected with our dogs in order to teach them. That takes energy my friends!

And remember, don't think because a dog yawns he's tired. Yawning is a stress release behavior. You'll see it most often in class when we're asking them to down stay or come when called. So when you see it out of context (that being they're coming out of that crate, stretching everything!), a yawn is signal that your dog is feeling a bit stressed. Sress is NOT fear, it's simply a way for them to say, this bothers me a bit but I'm going to handle it.

So start having fun with your training. I play train my dogs alot. We will practice a sit or down or come in the house for no reason but to enjoy it. I like to catch them off guard, toss out a command and then act all silly with them that they did it! If it's fun for you, it's fun for them!

And here's little tip - if you're finding that you just can't loosen up with your dog, put on your favorite music and train. I've discovered that when I see a class is having a hard time keeping their energy up, I'll start them out heeling in the ring, and put on some rocking music - something you just gotta tap your toe to. I tell them to walk with the music, dance if they want to, but keep that dog with them. Suddenly you see smiling handlers and dogs prancing along! It's great!

Have a fun time dancing and training and keep that smile going folk! Take care - I'll be back soon I promise!

Deb s.
Corky the yorky, Everee the border collie and soon to be here Truman the bloodhound puppy!