Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Butterflies, Unicorns, and Criteria

Today I'm thinking about Butterflies and Unicorns.  Such happy little things.
My heart is still going out to the families in Boston. However, I am no longer crippled by my emotions and am moving on with life, work, and fun.

The subject of criteria is foremost on my mind.  In class last night I noticed that Olive is having some trouble hearing.  I call her name and it's like she never heard me as she is running after her best buddy for a game of wrestle or tug.  Hmmm. Obviously either she is deaf (I don't think so) or I've let my criteria slip on her recall.

I've mentioned criteria here before in relation to Fins contacts.  Slippage is an easy thing to let happen. 

Criteria in dog training is about what you expect from your dog.  For example, in our crate games, we expect our dogs to stay in the crate when we open the door.  You can add additional criteria to this behavior:

·         Sit when I put my hand on the crate door
·         Sit back in the crate
·         Wait calmly while it put the leash on
·         Wait calmly even if I have a party outside of your crate.
·         Wait until invited to come out
·         Go back in on one cue of “Crate”

All of these are criteria that we can train to.  Once you’ve trained your dog to these criteria, it is up to you to test the criteria by taking it on the road and adding distractions. 

Slipping criteria begins simple enough, I call her and she doesn't come, I'm tired, don't want to go chasing her down I run in and get a cookie, call again waving the cookie so she'll see it.  That was it.  One time.  Then bang, it was all over.

It takes giving up what you want now for what your long term goal is.  For me, worth every non-Q run to get perfection in the future.

Here is a very well written article by Denise Fenzi that captures her setting up her dog and looking for specific criteria.  What I admire in her is the attention to detail that she places on criteria. 



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