I often say Chase and I or Inca and I or Holmes and I are working on something (obedience, rally, tracking, agility . . .). I rarely share how we work on these things because I believe I am pretty inept. I am fortunate to have very smart dogs that figure things out in spite of me.
Chase and I are doing an Advanced/Excellent Rally crash course. I’m hoping Chase will earn at least his RA before he goes off to Susan’s herding camp. Tonight Chase taught me something very important (and I recognized it — of course, he’s probably been trying to show this to me for most of his life).
Chase is a thoughtful dog. He’s silly and outgoing and mouthy, but when we’re working on something, he is a problem solver. He wants very badly to get it right. This is what happened. We were doing advanced signs in a drill mode. “Everyone up, do sign #48. Here’s the sign. Good — now everyone do it again. Great. Okay one more time.” Chase got it right on the first try. On the second try, he didn’t, and on the third try, he laid down which is his “I quit” default. What was going on? I think I get it. When Chase does an exercise correctly the first time, but I make him do it again, he assumes the first try was incorrect and he changes something in the exercise. When he runs out of variations, he quits trying.
I’m not going to do that to him anymore. When Chase gets an exercise right, we quit or we do another exercise. All this time I’ve been making my boy crazy — he keeps trying to make me happy, and I just ask him to do it again, and again. I am inept, but I am able to learn.