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Working Dogs are Hard Work

Working Dogs are Hard Work

November 29, 2011
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 2 minutes

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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10 comments on “Working Dogs are Hard Work”

  1. Very fun! Love the tunes. We do this a lot in the house and a little outdoors. Phoenix excels in house searches and Jamie always does better outdoors. This game always spawns a lot of extraneous, post-game "Here I found this no one was using it so I brought it to you give me a cookie now" behavior. I swear, if it's not red hot or nailed down . . . and BOTH of them do that. Not just the crazy malinois. Who thinks he is creating the illusion of working when all he is doing is stealing socks.

  2. They are both so awesome..That scent catch was great!!
    You're doing a great job with working them...so much better than most dog owners..(myself especially)

  3. I couldn't agree more. Our R was bred with champion working genes, to be a hunting dog. He is so wired to work that he adopts OCD behaviors when we don't exercise his brain enough. He's trying to make up work for himself in that case. I've never known a dog as driven as him, and I agree that it's a huge amount of work for a human to keep a dog like him happy!

  4. Wow Loki's cold search was amazing! I'm impressed! You've done such an great job with both of them and I don't think you're a sloppy trainer. If you're all having fun that's what counts. Who cares if the presentation isn't perfect. 🙂 I really enjoyed the video. Wish I knew how to train scents. 😀

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