In which I am the Dog

I wasn’t sure if I should post this on my  dog blog or here but this seemed like the more appropriate spot.

 When I train my dog, I expect that they will make mistakes. It’s how they learn.  These are the steps I take when teaching sit, for example.

  1. Model the behavior.  While standing at the dog’s side, I put one hand on his chest and one on their back and say “Sit!” and then I slide my hand down the spine and scoop under the butt to coax him into a sit.  The hand on the chest is to prevent them from moving forward.  Then Praise.  Repeat a few times a day… usually for about a week.
  2. Use a food lure.   Put a treat infront of the dogs nose and say “Sit!” while lifting that cookie up.  Nose up/Butt Down.   Feed that treat.
  3. Add compulsion: same as step two only we now add in a slight lifting of the collar with the leash… this associates the feeling of lifting up on the collar with the word “Sit”.   Feed the treat.
  4. Remove lure, continue with compulsion.  Feed a treat when dog sits.
  5. Remove compulsion.  Ask dog to sit.  If the dog does not sit (oopsie! a Mistake) lift on the collar with the leash.  This should be a reminder cue to sit.   Feed the treat when that butt hits the ground.

Eventually we phase out the treat.. and treat only occassionally.  It’s like gambling.. the possibilty of the reward is what keeps us pulling that lever.

I know.. you’re still wondering what this has to do with Karate training.

When the dog doesn’t sit, he gets a reminder.  What I expect from the dog is an  “Oh! Right” lightbulb moment and then an immediate fix.  No muss.. no fuss.

 I would be very surprised if what I got instead was “Well, you see, my hips are sore today from all my romping about and I didn’t want to move to quickly, but I was going to sit”.

In Karate Training, I’m often given corrections. 

  • Move you arms and legs at the same time.
  • You turned the wrong way, Jennifer!
  • Stand up straight!
  • Don’t pop up when you kick.. pretend there is a low ceiling.
  • Shoulders back!
  • Don’t let me bend that leg! Don’t let me!

You  have no idea how HARD it is not to say “Yeah, I know but I had a long day at work today and my brain isn’t working” or “Sorry, Sensei I wasn’t paying attention”… or “Aw crap, I knew that was wrong!”

I keep reminding myself of my dogs.. just fix it.  And try harder next time.