I Know That, But What Else You Got?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Okay, I will put a freeze on the cow stories for a bit:). I was at a trial today, I was there for less than an hour but I did speak to a student, Clare. Clare doesn’t live close by so we only see her for camps, but she does frequent a lot of camps so she knows our program very well. Clare always has the most profound and hysterical one-liners. She told me that she was enjoying my Training Tips that I have been sending out each day this month. She went on to say she hadn’t really learned any thing new in these tips, they just reminder her of all of the things she knew she ought to have been doing, but she had been sweeping under the carpet. Funny thing, I was speaking to one of my instructors, Tracy Sklenar, on the way to the trial and we were talking about a similar thing.  At every workshop there will be students that may struggle. They have been at a camp or seminar previously and are coming for follow up help. Lets say they are challenged to doing rear crosses because their dog will not drive ahead. The first thing I ask them is to show me their Crate Games. I want to see how much motivation there is for the dog to leave the handler and drive head towards something of value . . . “oh yeah, yeah, I know I should do more of that, but what else can you suggest?”  Now this just cracks me up. The success of my program is based on the a solid foundation of fundamentals. Yes, there are other ways to teach a rear cross but I really don’t think there are any easier ways!  Similarly I was talking to a someone that is getting a new puppy and I suggested he come to puppy camp. He would really like to he said, but he thinks he will save the dough and just bring the puppy to a handling camp when he is older.  There are lots of different ways up a hill, but personally I think you can be playing the games that create the focus and understanding that will carry you up that hill a lot easier.

I am so grateful that difficult tasks can be make easy by the rehearsal of the simple ones.



  1. I love it! Humans, we always put things off for later or look for shortcuts instead of just doing the simple things that we know will get us to where we want to be.

  2. I love this post. AND I am just starting crate games – and have serious RC issues. Perfect!

  3. Thank you for the tips and blogs! Perfect short motivational reminders with good info. Love the focus on foundation. Also love the gratitude note. I am seeing good skills gained with my own dogs with Crate games and 2 X 2 weave DVDs.

  4. people always want the quick fix or the “bandaid” that will make things just a little bit better until it gets soggy and falls off. this is a good example of that!

    great post, as always!

    • Excellent analogy with the soggy band-aid!

  5. Awesome reminder, thanks!

  6. My comment to Susan was more than a little tongue in cheek… however, the more I thought about it, the more profound I realised that I was!

    It is almost always more fun to learn a new skill or a new approach than to keep slogging away at an “old” one: Learning new things is fun, you usually have a lot of early success with a new method (because the early stages in learning are the easiest), and you leave behind, at least temporarily, all the stress of failing to progress.

    I think this is what is behind a lot of the “technique hoppers”. You know, the “I used to do Derret, but now I do Mecklenburg.”, or the “I started out teaching 2o2o, but I’m doing running now.” Our dogs’ performances are a direct reflection of the amount of useful effort we put into their training. Successful application of ANY method will require bucketloads of effort somewhere down the line… and that is often not a very sexy way to spend our training time!

  7. Loving your stuff Susan… am very much enjoying your blog and tip of the day, very motivating…

    Claire very well said…

  8. “….I am so grateful that difficult tasks can be made easy by the rehearsal of the simple ones….”

    This phrase says it all. It is one we should all be living with when it come to training our dogs. It is similar a mantra I have been chanting to myself for quite a while now and to people that I know in my agility circles. A few years back I never thought that “circle work” drills and “crate games” and “One Jump” work would help as much as they ultimate did. It really has been an eye opener for me and a real “light bulb” moment!

    I cannot stress to people enough the incredible value this has had for me and my dogs, especially my pup who is now getting the full impact of it. Often times this falls on deaf ears when I try to emphasis this to fellow handlers and people struggling with something in their training. They kind of look at me like… oh yeah right!! They just want the “quick fix – the easy (?) fix”! They cannot see the importance of the simplicity that I speak of when it comes to training dogs.

    Looks like the VALUE of this type of training has transferred well on me :))) Hmmm… If shown what to do simply and correctly it is amazing how easily I can be shaped !!

    Keep the posts coming Susan!

    Suzanne Wesley

  9. Hey! Flying to Canada is expensive. Though your comments did make me re consider. We have to balance these days, our love for our dogs and agility with fiscal responsibility. I guess I am willing to be sold though. Can your previous puppy camp attendees help explain why my puppy will benefit so much from attending your puppy camp that it is worth more than saving the dough ? 😉

  10. Tsk, tsk, Jason! Don’t you know that young puppy flyers get bonus airmiles ?

  11. Just kidding, above. What you might want to re-consider is flying for your puppy before his bones and cartiledge are strong enough…

    Ouch!! Couldn’t resist…

  12. Jason,

    The thing that you will learn is how to teach your puppy to learn. This is so important to all the other foundation work you do for both life and agility with your dog.

    A dog that knows how to learn can do anything. It’s not an easy thing to teach and Susan does take you through all the steps. I have to admit that I regret not attending puppy camp with my youngest dog. He’s 2 and I’ve only now realized that he is really missing that essential component to successful training. Knowing how to learn.


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