Does anybody out there have the illusion that having a working dog will help pick up some of the slack around your house? Think again!
"This basket is empty. What we have here, is a problem."
Working dogs are a lot of work. I'm constantly battling my guilt over not working them enough.
Loki has a lot of drive to work and some juice for search. But, besides the mistakes I made early in his training, I'm also a sloppy trainer, progressing too fast from step to step, skipping important details between easy and more challenging behaviors. It's evident he wants to work. He's at full attention whenever any training tools come out. The rewards are part of his drive, but for him reaching the goal is as important as the reward itself. Even if I had the lowest value reward, he'd keep working for me. I wish I had more time for formal training. But I don't. So we make it up as we go along. And I keep reminding myself he's so much better off with me, a sloppy trainer who doesn't work him nearly as much as he'd like, than how his life started.
And Juno's not half bad at search or other work herself. Not surprising for a husky. But many of her handling issues would require even smaller, more broken down steps than Loki's. Her drive is more tied to the reward itself. Are you surprised? Still that doesn't stop her from giving me her paw, or pulling out a roll over just because I want her to. And boy does that just tickle me when she shakes her paw for nothing but a giggle from me. But because her focus is distracted by the reward so strongly, even if it's hidden, her brain doesn't connect her behavior as quickly. So she'll offer about 87 other behaviors until she gets it right. She requires so much more repetition before she's confident about the right behavior. Once she's confident, that will be her new "go to" behavior.
So you see, working a working dog is whole lotta work! And I have two. Woah is me.
Enjoy the 3-minute video below. Even if you're bored watching the search games, you'll probably enjoy the music!
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"Your project is guaranteed to meet superior Siberian standards or I will fatally masticate it. You have my "woo" on that!"
"I keep your project safe from crows, coyotes, and flies. I prefer to be paid in salmon treats and tennis balls."
"I manage the treat jar & the staff's daily payroll of cookies and bones. The staff is excellent at math and let me know when I come up short."