Sunday, 14 March 2010

Whispering weaves ...

This week I went with friends to see the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, a very enjoyable evening it was too. Now Cesar receives a lot of flack, go to any doggy forum and you can see scads of people decrying what he does, saying he uses cruel and aversive training methods. But, he also has a huge following, demonstrated by the sheer volume of people turning out to his current UK tour. There’s a lot of common sense in what he says … live with a ‘pack’ of dogs and a lot of things are very familiar. Everyone has their own opinion of what he’s about, but if my friend wins the lottery she’s promised me a trip to his dog psychology centre, and I’ll be going!

I was slightly disappointed that Mr Millan didn’t address the problem of the little old lady with the sweetie bag. I’m sure there must be other dog owners out there who encounter her on their walks. The first time you meet her she gives your dog sweeties (usually without asking your permission), the next time you see her in the distance and your dogs eagerly anticipate the sweeties and drag you towards her at great speed. The little old sweetie lady is not a desperately pleasurable encounter when you have 5 dogs eagerly expecting their sweets. Discussing it amongst my friends it was suggested a rolled up newspaper should be used … it was felt that this would be sufficient deterrent to ward off the little old lady!

I decided this week that I would set myself the challenge of teaching the Arctic Fox to do agility weaves. She’s yet to decide whether she wants to work sheep, so whilst she makes up her mind I thought it would be good to give her something to do. Womble Bum used to compete in agility until an injury led to her very early retirement. However, she loves the weaves and often gets to do them as a reward when she has completed good heelwork. She learnt weaves with clicker training, just starting off with 2 poles, teaching the correct entry and then building up with a pole at a time. Not everyone’s ideal method, there are plenty who would teach all 12 weaves at the same time. But if a dog cannot complete 4 weaves, it certainly isn’t going to do 12! She has a real understanding and can be sent into the weaves, called through them and can enter from any direction, they’re always carried out correctly.

This time I thought we’d try Susan Garrett’s 2x2 weave training method. Susan is a highly accomplished Canadian agility competitor and has produced a number of books and DVDs. Good enough recommendation for giving her method a go but where to start? After looking around on the internet I found lots of YouTube demonstrations. The theory is that it just takes 12 days to complete 12 poles. Hmmm, I am sure that is achievable if you actually buy and watch the DVD … it strikes me, from our first session, that there is something the YouTube demonstrations are not showing. We'll keep trying ... but 12 days seems a long way away.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed you views about Cesar Millan and agree whole heartedly.If more people treated dogs as dogs and not as accessories or phycological crutches then dogs would be much happier and the people would have happy healthy chilled out companions they can be proud of.
    Dogs like children react well to people who send out strong, fair, clear vibes about expected behaviour.The result is great, producing happy owners and contented responsive dogs.