Sunday, February 14, 2010

Give him what he needs, not what he "should have"

Soft eyes mean something in our world.

My husband bought the book and the entire set of Control Unleashed for Christmas. One concept I came across, was to watch for the look of soft eyes, and to reward it.

This is something I've been working on with Samurai. By rewarding calmness, he is beginning to attach a value to it, and is starting even to come to me for calming. What a nice little miracle!

Here is another thought I had all on my own:

I remember that oftentimes, I set a standard for Samurai for whatever criteria I think he should be able to achieve in a training session. However, I started to noticed this was more of a reflection on what I might have expected from Taylor, had I been training him.

There are two very different dogs, trust me. And training one is not very much like training the other.

And so I decided to flip the formula. Give him what the needs, instead of what he should have.

Many times, this means rewarding him for less than what I might think he should be rewarded for, simply because he needs it.

I think this makes a difference.

Because sometimes he is making an effort, even though the current approximation of the behavior is far from what I hope that it someday will be.

Doing less in agility training is so often doing more. Particularly with dogs like Samurai.

We are so very early in our journey together. The road is still more full of potholes and pitfalls than smooth, pleasant progress. But I do begin to see some hope.

And it starts in those soft eyes.

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