Thursday, May 18, 2017

Phase 6 bomb

I finally did my Phase 6 evaluation. I wish I could say I did well, but I didn't.

It didn't help that I was driving through two severe thunderstorms. I was planning on rehearsing what I was going to say on the way there, but instead, I was white-knuckling my way through a typhoon.

But if I'm being honest with myself, I probably would have not done well anyway. For one thing, I didn't do the Leave It command correctly. And I was very nervous, had to stop halfway through to ask for a moment to catch my breath, since my heart was hammering through my chest. And then, with the last command, I messed up and totally went blank. Ugh.

But, it wasn't a total loss. The first three commands went pretty well; I was able to teach without feeling like I was going to pass out, and that is always a plus. Ace was great too. And my mentor complimented me on "choosing the right dog". She said that choosing the right dog to be a demo dog makes a huge difference in teaching.

My pros were that I spoke clearly and slowly--a big plus, as most people rush through, or so I am told. Me, I'm just trying to buy time and try to figure out what I need to say next, haha.

She said that I was also pretty clear and simple in my teaching--also a good thing, as it is easy to over-explain things and get people confused.

My biggest con is my confidence. People want a confident teacher and obviously, it doesn't show through with my teaching. I have never been good with public speaking though, and I'm not very good at my role of "teacher". I feel so inadequate and every insecurity that I've had since I was 15 comes rushing back when I try to "teach."

So I don't know if I passed. I really screwed up with "Leave it" and I think she was pretty lenient when she circled "demonstrated but needs practice" rather than "needs to work on it." At least now, I know what I did wrong, and if I have to take the test again, I won't make the same mistake again.

Something I decided I'm going to do: I'm going to get an internship job as an assistant for dog classes. Whether I decide to lead classes in the future or not isn't a huge thing on my list, but I want it to be an option in case I need more income. Up until now, I felt like I could never teach a class because I'm not confident enough. Not a good reason! And I want to get over this fear.

For an exercise for myself, I'm going to show you the command "Leave It." This is more for me than it is for you, but you never know, maybe it will come in handy for you one day too.

Why this command is useful: Good to protect your dog from harmful situations (things that fall on the floor, broken glass or something poisonous). Good for protecting your own possessions. Also good to use on people who are not "dog people", you can tell your dog to "leave it" and he will understand not to touch that person.
How to teach "Leave It":
 1. Get a treat that will tempt your dog enough to want to work for.

2. Holding it in front of him (not too close, but not too far away either), tell him "Leave It."

3. If the dog tries to snatch the treat (which he will), close your fist and say no, and try again. Tell him "leave it."

4. Wait for the dog to back off. The moment he backs off, tell him "Yes!" or "Good dog!" and immediately give him the treat.

5. Practice 3-5 more times, but no more than that.

The point of this exercise is to teach the dog that when he backs off, this behavior will reward him with a treat. That's why it's important to reward him the moment he backs off. Don't test him by waiting to see how long he can wait. That is for more advanced training down the road. Right now, we have to keep it easy for the dog to learn.

Part Two of Leave It

Once the dog has Part 1 down well, you can move on to Part 2. Don't move on to Part 2 until you're sure that your dog understands that "leaving it" gives him a reward.

1. You will need a bag of treats. With one had you will be rewarding the dog, and the other hand, you will be covering one of the treats on the floor.

2. Put a single treat on the floor. (I screwed this part up and put multiple treats on the floor. Don't do this, it is way too tempting for the dog to "leave it"! This is for more advanced training down the road.) Be ready to cover this treat with your hand or your dog will assume he can eat it.

3. Cover the treat with your hand and tell the dog "leave it."

4. If he paws, or nibbles at your hand, keep your hand firmly over the treat. No need to say "leave it" over and over. Silence is best.

5. Wait for your dog to back off. He will figure this out eventually. When he does back off, you can reward him immediately with the treat on the floor.

6. Repeat about 3-5 more times, keeping it positive and successful (this is so the dog will want to keep practicing.)

"Down the Road Training"

When your dog has this "game" figured out, you can start to put your bait on the floor and tell the dog to "leave it" without covering it up with your hand.

Eventually, you can wait for longer periods of time before giving the dog a treat. This will teach him impulse-control.

Further down the road, you want to teach him that he won't always be rewarded by food. For instance, if there's shards of glass on the floor. Would you reward him with a piece of glass? Start praising him instead, and alternate between treats and praise, and eventually fade treats out altogether.

Generalizing: pretty soon you can start generalizing items with your dog. Practice on things that aren't too important to you. An old pair of socks or a hair brush you never use. The dog will learn that it's not always dog treats he should leave alone. You can teach him to leave the garbage can alone, or your plate of food that you set down alone. Or as I said before, you can even tell him to use people alone. Anything you tell him to "leave it" immediately becomes your possession and not the dog.

Yes, even a pile of some other dogs poop. :-) 


No comments:

Post a Comment