Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sometimes Practice does Not Make Perfect

Tonight was a hard night for my baby girl. It would have been an easier night if she had acted like a baby girl instead of a raving maniac. Okay raving maniac is a slight exaggeration. Very slight.

I'm not feeling very objective right now as I am mostly feeling like I did everything wrong that could be done wrong. And if I can't apply what I learn what in the world have I been researching and practicing with the princess-of-the-shrill-bark this whole time anyway? Thus the lack of objectivity rears its head.

The story? Oh just that story where you get to go to someone else's puppy class and you know you have a dog reactive little four legged friend, but you've been working on it. You've been practicing mat work, watch-me's, and reorienting. You're reading Control Unleashed and The Relaxation Protocol. You've studied the straining-at-the end-of-her-leash-barker's body language and you for sure know when she's going over threshold, and you are positive beyond a shadow of doubt you won't let that happen to your little hyper girl! It will be the perfect relaxed situation with very understanding people to see how far all your hard work has come, right?

Well, the very understanding people part of that story was true.

I feel like we did everything I know to do and the result? Basically there were some good highlights in between her barking and lunging to the end of her leash. I did keep backing away until she could reorient to me. And I was amazed at how fast she came back into her head and could give me some basic skills. That was definite progress. She even got to the point where we were in the training field with the other dogs and offered a down and held it while being c/t.

So why the utter despair? I broke reactive dog cardinal rule 101:don't work too long. I should have stopped and left the situation at least 20 minutes earlier. Uggg. . . writing 20 minutes sounds horrible-like such a long time. But 20 minutes in the moment seemed just that-a moment.

I could write all night with the questions and second guessing and the "have I ruined her forevers?" But what I feel worst about is that I did not control the environment well enough, I didn't take it slow enough, I asked too much of her and for too long.

I would like to write:
I WILL NOT MAKE THOSE MISTAKES AGAIN! I WILL PROTECT HER BETTER!

So I will write it, and mean it, but with a reality check: I am only human and she is dog. We can both try again tomorrow and who knows maybe I WILL NOT MAKE THOSE MISTAKES AGAIN! I WILL PROTECT HER BETTER! At least I will try.

3 comments:

Marie said...

I'll tell you things that are much easier to say than apply. Don't be to hard on yourself. No one, applies everything theory and training method that they've read about 100% correctly. Like you said, we're just human and we make mistakes.

As for training too long...I'd be willing to guess that it's now a "cardinal rule" of training, because we all have a tendency to train longer than we should. Try setting a timer, (literally). It's the only way I've found to really keep track of time passing when I'm training. I have the same problem all the time with my own dogs. You'd be amazed how quickly 5 minutes can go by when you're timing it.

katie said...

Thanks for the reassurance Marie, I know you as much as anyone knows the frustration and worry of trying to help a pup overcome hard issues. I'm definitely going to get a timer and just keep on working.:)

Priscilla said...

Hi Katie, I make a lot of mistakes when I train / teach / practise the OB things that we learn from OB class too. IN fact, I always make mistakes and they're the same mistakes.

My trainer keeps on telling us not to train the doggy for too long especially for puppies. So, what we should do is a mix of training and playing together. 5 minutes for work and 5 minutes for playing.

Eva's attention span was short too but I think hers is getting slightly longer these days but I have to play with her a lot too.

Don't be hard on yourself! We will learn from our mistakes one day :)

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: http://www.lessonsfrom4legs.com. Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!