We are working hard on training with four nights a week of formal classes I take the dogs to-sometimes with two classes in a night. This is in addition to the normal morning training session where we get our videos from. The dogs are working on all of the things that I never really cared that much about-sitting, lying down, heeling properly….I mean really, when you enjoy jumping rope with your dog and playing frisbee as much as I do…..what use is sitting still? Boring! But here’s the thing-I need to be able to talk during the show, and sure, there is 100% agreement among audiences that the best part of the show is when the dogs do things they aren’t supposed to do, which is 100% of the time, and then there are six dogs all doing what they aren’t supposed to be doing, and then that distracts me from my script which really compounds the things that aren’t suppose to happen exponentially. An idea that Bill Hicks had about performing often appeals to me-the planned stuff is just something to fall back on if you find something more interesting/entertaining.
It’s a good thing that I took all those improv classes last year! Just go with the flow, whatever happens I just make a story up about it and then the kids start chiming in with suggestions and boy do we wind up with some interesting adventures. All those things that aren’t supposed to happen? Much to the kids’ surprise, that is indeed what we are supposed was supposed to happen, have an interesting adventure.
Regarding the classes-In addition to learning the basic obedience that we don’t care about, the dogs all get a chance to get out and hang out with other dogs in a safe setting. I rarely let them play with other dogs because of their bad parenting. I used to love taking the dogs to off leash areas, but have learned that’s just where people go to let all of the dogs “work it out themselves.” Poor Mouse lost sight in an eye from an interaction like this.
Another thought on training is that if a dog really knows how to do just one thing well and on cue it’s an amazing insight into the world for him. He has something that he can feel comforted by when asked for it-I KNOW what I’m supposed to be doing! is a look that I totally see in many stressful situations and it really helps calm them down. Who doesn’t want to know what they are supposed to be doing?
If you ever happen to see our show, you’ll see that my dogs totally LOVE knowing what I want of them and are so eager to do it that they almost can’t stand the excitement of knowing what to do and then doing it. Then, after they do a trick they will just look SO proud of themselves. What’ll often happen is that they know the show well enough that they’ll anticipate their trick and do it before I’ve set it up. Training classes help them learn to stay and wait for their cue. When watching our show, you can see Moose trembling with anticipation as she has gotten much better at waiting for her cues but with . SO much fun to see that kind of fun.