Yesterday I told you about the "D" in DASH standing for "desire". As in "I want to TRAIN!"
Today, we'll be covering ACCURACY.
When you're learning a new behavior, the first step is to get it right. And that means taking your time to be precise. Take the weave poles for instance (and I really mean "take them". Because I hate them. Because I'm pretty bad about being accurate with them. Because when I screw up it makes mom mad). When I first learned the weave poles, mom put guides up so that I went through them correctly. We went very slowly and precisely so that I got it right every time. As I started to understand, I got faster and faster.
It's kind of like driving a car. Well, like I think is like driving a car. Mom won't let me drive, no matter how much I beg. But when you first start driving, you go very slowly and carefully, so you don't run anybody over. But as the days, months and years go by, you just zip along, full of confidence. Mom's got the tickets to prove that you go faster as time goes on.
Or like typing. Back in the dark ages, when typewriters weren't even electric, and computers ran on punch cards, mom learned to type. Slowly she hunted and pecked, trying to be accurate. Now she's zoomy on the keyboard, fingers flying with very few mistakes.
So remember to get ACCURATE before you get fast.
This picture has NOTHING to do with accuracy, but I needed a picture to spice the blog up. I found this in the archives. Some of these dogs have gone to the Bridge, a few are retired, but they were all agility stars in their time. That's Levi, when he was just a baby. He's 12 now, so that tells you how long ago this was. Even then, mom tended to hang with folks that didn't go for traditional agility breeds.
I've been ramping up my training lately, and mom's been repeating her "word to live by" a lot. I thought I'd share that word with all of you.
That word is DASH.
It stands for Desire, Accuracy, Speed and Habitat. It's our mantra in training agility, but can be applied to any type of learning, really.
Today, I'm going to explain the first step - DESIRE. It means that before you can learn anything, the dog doing the learning has to WANT to learn. So it's up to the human to make that learning as fun, safe and rewarding as possible.
Mom has it easy with me. I will work for anything, anytime, for as long as she trains me. She says I'd work for a dirt clod as a treat. Well, she's right. But not every dog is as motivated to eat as I am. And not every dog likes treats best. So it's up to the trainer to find something that makes their dog really want to train.
It can be a hard treat, a smelly piece of fish, a tug toy, a throwing toy, and chasing toy, a good scratch or a hand-wrestling session. In our house, Arnie loves treats, but hard treats aren't the best. So mom uses softer treats for him. And he really likes when she talks to him while he's chomping. Levi loves any food (kind of like me). Snap likes to tug. Puck likes to chase the lazer pointer. So mom uses whatever turns us on.
DESIRE also has to do with being ready to do some training. So she makes sure that we've done our business, and if we've been napping that we are awake enough to think. Then she gets us revved up and ready to work. I'm always ready to go, but she warms Arnie up with lots of treats for hand touches and a few tricks. Kind of gets his brain in gear. And if your dog is easily distracted (Arnie again), your human has to start the training in a low-distraction place at first.
The cool thing is, the more you train, the more you DESIRE to train. It all gets wrapped up in the reward, and the next thing you know, your dog can't wait to train! I know I can't.
This is my big brother Puck. He's a royal pain in the rear (mom's words, not mine).
This is a picture of him when he was "the agility dog". He's a pug mix, so he never did AKC agility. He mostly did NADAC agility, with a little bit of USDAA thrown in.
He's 14 years old now, and still acts like a kid. He never relaxes, and is still getting into all kinds of trouble. You'd think after all this time he'd know not to get into the garbage, chase birds, open doors, steal food, and jump on things. He's mom's favorite dog, mostly because nobody else likes him much.
If you look really close, you can see that he has a green tint to him. Mom used to dye him green for St. Patrick's Day. He loved it, because he got all sorts of attention when he was green. This picture was taken on Memorial Day. He's still a little green. That stuff never really washed off, it mostly grew out.
Mom always laughs when people call me her "green" dog, as in "inexperienced". She knows Puck is really her green dog.
Went to a trial this weekend. Without Arnie. Mom kept whining about missing him, and it not being the same without her "little man". I say, if you want to come with us Arnie, be more reliable in unfenced arenas.
It was in a new place in Texas. A town called Belton, right near Temple. We had to drive 2 hours each way. Both days. Except coming home on Sunday took waaaaay longer than 2 hours. More on that later.
But first, about me. I'm in Excellent now. That means tougher courses, shorter times, and no mistakes allowed. To add insult to injury, mom's decided to step up her handling. Which means more front crosses. Which means her timing's usually way off, and we blow it. So she tried to do as many front crosses as she could this weekend. And we pulled them off just fine (because she's finally remembering to LOOK at me when she does the cross). But I had a bit of trouble with my weave poles. I won't go in them on the first try, and mom usually just runs past them. But I heard her whispering with our instructor, and mom's supposed to MAKE me do them. No matter how many times it takes. And if it takes more than 3 times, she's going to pick me up and leave the ring! So on our last run, when I ran past, she yelled at me, and made me do them correctly. I was giving her dirty looks the whole time, but we finished and I got to run out and get LOTS of treats!
Should be interesting. We're both stubborn, so we'll see who caves first.
On Sunday, we had a really bad traffic jam about 30 minutes into the return trip. We sat there for 20 minutes. When we finally got moving, there was another jam 15 minutes later. Another 20 minute wait. Didn't look like anyone was hurt, but it took us a lot longer to get home.
We did get to meet more agility pugs. It was Xena and Zoey (not sure how they spell their names), from San Antonio. They're friends with Emmitt and the gang from SA. It was so nice hanging with some of my fellow puggers.
We weren't sure if we would actually go, since the weather was supposed to be hot, humid and stormy. But we woke up to coolish temps, a slight breeze and blue skies. So we packed up the car and headed to the park.
Folks and their pugs were streaming into the park.
This little guy was exhausted from the start.
Mom's a sucker for the seniors, so she got lots of pictures of their sweet faces.
Another cutie pie.
Lots of pugs came dressed in their Easter finest.
There was a fenced Dog Park right next to the event, so we went over to check it out. Only dogs under 30 pounds were allowed in one side, and it was full of pugs. I was less than thrilled, since I don't really like other dogs. I did a few sniff-sniffs, but stuck with dad for the most part.
Arnie on the other hand, had a BLAST! He found a few friends, and spent time sniffing and chasing all over the place. Dad said it was worth it just to see the look on his face while we were in the Dog Park. He was grinning from ear to ear.
I'll put more pictures up tomorrow. Mom got lots of them.
Mom's been hitting the walking track every single day. The people there think she's a nutjob, because she got bored with the Monkees, and started listening to podcasts of Armstrong & Getty. If you've ever listened to them, you'll know why she's laughing. If you haven't, just trust me. They're a riot.
But anyway, mom's been on a tear, getting in shape. Because she has some big goals for the next year, and she needs to be ready. And by ready, I mean doesn't need oxygen at the end of a run.
Here is Puck and Levi, back in the day, when they were winning all kinds of ribbons.
Mom's decided that I'm going to win some awards in the next few years. She's been prepping me all spring, getting up into Excellent agility, so I'll be "ready".
Goal #1 - Qualify for the AKC Agility Invitational in 2012. The qualifying time is July to June, so once July hits, we'll be aiming for that.
Goal #2 - Qualify for AKC National Agility Championship in 2013. It's in Tulsa, which is pretty close to us.
Goal #3 - Make the top Agility Pug award with the Pug Dog Club of American in 2012. Levi was in the top 5 JWW in 2005, and she really wants either me or Arnie (or both) to get an award when we go back to CA for the Nationals.
We can make it happen, God willing and the creeks don't rise......
He asked everyone to send in their birthday or gotcha day. So mom started typing in my birthday, and
Today is my birthday! What the heck. The airhead completely forgot. She knows the date of my birthday, but didn't know that today was THAT day. I almost missed out on the best day of the year (I have to share Christmas).
So, in her guilt, mom stopped by the store and loaded up on loot. I got a bed. Dad calls it a "princess bed". Arnie decided he wants to be a princess, I mean, sleep in the bed. I was snoozing with dad before he went to work, so Arnie dragged the bed off the back of the couch to sleep in:
Then mom got out a special treat. She got me a Kong Stuffer Surprise. She got the puppy version, since it's supposed to be easy on the tummy. I'll let you know ('cause I'll puke all over if it doesn't agree with me). Sorry it's blurry, but I'm banking off her legs while she tried to take the photo.
Then she squirted it all over my dinner. It was soooo yummy. I think. Because I basically inhaled it. I did share with everybody else. But there's some left. I hope I get it all!
I'm hoping to milk this "oh, we forgot poor Gracie's birthday" thing for another day or two. I'll let you know if it works.