Ever hear of “zig zag training?”. No it’s not a new handling system. It’s just a term I made up to describe how Tai’s training is going at just one year old. In any given training session (or in daily life), I zig in one direction and then I observe a behavior that makes me zag in another direction. Example: I rent a facility to train and expectations are we will work on jump grids. I’m out on the floor and just ready to start, when a friend who is sharing this rather expensive facility chooses to work on the teeter at the other end of the arena. This is when I discover that the sound of this teeter bang on the mats sends my previously attentive puppy into orbit. Ok, we change direction….we are now training….can you keep your mind when the teeter bangs?
This can happen at home too. Wintry conditions or not, we can sometimes work outside on flat work skills or even work on one or two low jumps in the snow. What might start out as a session to train lead-out pivots, may end up focusing almost entirely on his sit-stay or his focus forward on the 1st jump. We zig and we zag. Always moving forward, but constantly revisiting those key foundation skills that will serve us well over the years. Or discovering new things that need to be worked on for this particular dog or even occasionally discovering a hole that needs to be filled.
So different from a training session with 6 yr old Breeze where a goal is set for the training session and 99% of that time that is what we accomplish. But of course I wouldn’t change a thing. This process of discovery is one of the pleasures of raising a puppy. He is smart, athletic, handsome and gets along with everyone. He loves full body hugs and would really like to be a lap dog…unfortunately for him (but not for me!) my lap isn’t big enough to accommodate him.
He still surprises me in daily life. We put up our Christmas tree and he NEVER touched an ornament…a shocker of the pleasant kind. He has recently discovered television. I am not kidding, it was when I was watching Susan Salo’s Foundation Jumping DVD and Susan was just talking. Tai became fascinated by her voice, then really for the first time began to pay attention to the images on the screen and especially notice any fast moving object. Fortunately, I don’t watch sports much and he can be in another room when I watch dog training videos.
He knows to wait on his bed in the kitchen while his dinner is prepared. Recently, I sent him to his bed, not noticing that my husband had set a laundry basket on the bed. No problem, just climb in the basket. This made me laugh. But I wasn’t laughing so much the other day when for the first time, he climbed on the dining room table – I don’t mean front paws, I mean all four feet standing there. What the heck?
He has a lot to learn, I have a lot to learn. We’ll get through this already rather long winter, enjoying our walks in the snow and when spring arrives, opportunities to train his equipment skills will skyrocket. Meanwhile, I’ll be patient, work on foundation skills that can be accomplished mostly in the small space of my house or the snow and be content with my zig zag training. It will all pay off in the long run. After all, that philosophy is exactly why his formal name is “Longview Tai”.