It’s Friday evening, which in my life right now means I’m pouring a tall gin and tonic and chopping an enormous amount of hot dog. Because Saturday is a full day of training and behavior modification. We start with “Pack to Basics” from 8-8:30, then right into Behavior Modification class from 8:30-9:30. That class often runs over a bit, and then we have Obedience 101 from 10:30-11:30. (I bring a cooler with some water and snacks, and we stroll around the area and Ziva rests in the crate before Obedience class.)
So it takes some planning to be ready for Saturday mornings. For example, need a lot of chopped hot dog. Any one class might require a baggie full of chopped hot dog, but we have Behavior Mod and Obedience. Plus, we have bridging to do all morning. Because as soon as Ziva exits the car, she is still learning to ignore the other dogs. So after a 30 minute car ride, we head to a grassy spot for a wee, and she sees another dog and starts to get excited so I start bridging: “Dog! duh duh duh duh. Yes!” and hot dog. We get into the building and she needs to lie quietly in behavioral down until Pack to Basics starts. Sometimes that’s easy, but sometimes, like a couple of weeks ago, there’s a new dog (or two) that make all the dogs get worked up. So there’s some more bridging (and hot dogs!)
My experience has been: prepare more than enough treats for training — and then add some more. I have just finished chopping up an entire pack of hot dogs for tomorrow. How much hot is that?
Yes, that’s an entire package of hot dogs. Other folks in the class use different treats. Some use cheese, or other brands of treats (Zukes is popular, and I also use that sometimes, too.) For us, hot dog seems to be the highest value treat, and with bridging it’s all about high value.
But okay, so what’s with the title here. Why do I feel a fraud sometimes?
Because sometimes it feel like as much as I see progress — I also see setbacks. For example, walking on a leash. We’ve been working on this for months, since we started the private lessons in January. Ziva is so much better than she used to be, but there are still days when we are walking and i feel completely uncoordinated and out of control. This often seems to happen right after a day when I’ve felt like “we’ve got this!” We’re walking, and Ziva is by my left side — not pulling. Those are great moments. But then the next day, she’s all over the place — pulling, wandering off to the left. I’m turning right and she’s not following. It’s kind of a mess.
And then we go to Obedience class — after being in Pack to Basics and Behavior Mod all morning — and she’s great! Last class we had a competition of leash walking and we got a 10 out of 10. Whut??? It was a great feeling to be one of the best in class, but then we get home and walk in the neighborhood, and she’s all over the place again. And the first Obedience class (this go-around that is — remember, this is try #2), Ziva and I were asked to demonstrate the first leash walking activity. We did well — she was exhausted, after all. But knowing how she still is in the neighborhood, I really felt like we were a bit of imposters.
It’s slowly coming together. There are good days and bad, but mostly days that are just in between. My fear in writing this blog is that I’ll come across as someone who knows what they are doing — I surely do not. I am learning every day, and every step along the way. All I know is that there are more days when it works than days when it doesn’t.
I guess that’s what it’s all about?