Monday, October 29, 2012

Over Training

We spend a great deal of time working with and training dogs.  Quite obviously as it is our livelihood.  It may seem somewhat incongrous to think of a trainer mentioning that it could be in the dog's best interest to not train.  After all, if the dog isn't where we want it to be, we must train more, right?  The answer, well - Yes, and No.

Just like we can't work hard every day with no break to relax, de-stress or an occasional vacation, the same holds true for our dogs.   Case in point - I trained and English Setter to retrieve.  She was a somewhat harded girl for the breed, but a willing and bright student.  We worked through all the steps of retrieve and she would reliably go out and pick up birds in training - 9 times.  Fetch means fetch, so we trained more - she refused at 7.  Then 5.  What was happening?  She knew the command.   Why was she getting worse?  Rather than push on, we gave her six weeks of hanging out, be a dog, run fields with no birds - no pressure, no demands.  An absolute vacation.  When we came back, She was not only reliably retrieving, she did so with a joyous abandon.  We were overtraining.  She learned her lesson, and so did I.

If you feel you're dog is sliding backwards in training, give some thought to how hard, often and long you've been working on the tasks.  Sometimes a break of a week or two will give both dog and trainer a fresh start when coming back - the only downside is that you still eventually need to get back to it.  After all, the hardest part of training is getting up off the couch. 

No comments:

Post a Comment