A Confession

A Confession

I talk a lot about building up behaviors, starting small and gradually increasing criteria, and about consistency when training.  Well, I have quite the confession to make… I apparently neglected to follow through with my own advice when it comes to Rio’s stay.

Yep, you heard that correctly.  While Shayne has a pretty gosh-darn bombproof stay, Rio…. well, let’s just say I discovered that he does not.  There are MANY instances where he has a very high level stay.  He can stay while I throw a ball for Shayne, throw kibble at him,  while I dance around, while other dogs are being worked, while doing a start-line stay for agility, and has a really nice moving wait.  But I recently discovered that if I am just standing still or hanging around, he has a very short duration wait (probably about 15 seconds before he starts offering other behaviors).

Well, then.  In thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that I cut lots of corners with him when I was training stay.  I fell into the trap that I warn my students about–I didn’t really work on duration alone.  I didn’t take the time to just build up the duration without distraction or distance.   I pushed too far too fast with him and while I have reliable behavior in many many situations… I don’t just have a basic behavior (I have no idea how his stay never broke down with his inability to stay for a length of time without me doing something).  I worked hard on lots of other behaviors, but I clearly didn’t do the work I should have with his wait behavior.

So, I recognize that I have a problem, dwelling on it and bemoaning it is pointless.  It’s not going to solve anything.  Since I know I have a problem it’s time to start fixing the problem.  Since his lack of understanding seems to be limited to only duration when I’m near him and not really interacting with him, that’s exactly where I’m going to start.

We are starting back at step 1 with building duration of stay.  Tonight I started by doing five 1-second stays, five 2-second stays, five 3-second stays, etc.  We worked for three different sessions on stay and worked our way up to about 9 seconds.  Near the end, he started offering head turns/head flicks and I counted those as breaking the stay because I want him to be very clear that it’s not the head flicking that is earning him the reward.  It’s going to take some time but we will get there.

I’m glad I figured out the gap in our training now rather than later–I’m just pretty shocked that I didn’t realize the issues earlier in our training.  I’m not sure how he’s got such a solid stay in some respects but not so much in this one.  Either way, I know there’s an issue and it’s now time to fix it!

Don’t make my mistake, build up that duration!

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