Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day Two--Mom's Take

Today was the day I had feared--learning corrections.

I know it sounds silly, but let's be honest: when you first see a correction done, it looks a little intense. Basically I have a six foot blue leash in my hands and if the dog doesn't follow my command (or does something it isn't supposed to do), you give that dog a good rip on the chain. Or a "chin bump" can be effective as well (you actually hear their teeth click together when it's done correctly). It all sounds, well harsh.

But here's the thing: these are working dogs. We didn't drive for two weeks in Ohio looking for a pet. And the trainers point that out to you right away, at the beginning of the lesson on corrections.

When actually trying the corrections, it's fun to see where the personalities of the dogs come into play. Some of the dogs are very eager to please, looking up at you with those big brown eyes as if to say, "Whatever you want, I'll do it! I'll be your friend..." And others keep themselves planted firmly in a down, as if to say, "Go ahead and try to make me do this. Let's just see you try..."

Strangely, I've had students with the same attitudes (no disrespect intended!)! Nice to know I'm on familiar ground!

In addition to corrections, motivation was the other lecture topic of the day. With some different activities, we discussed how both corrections and motivations must be used together to produce the best results in a working dog (or really, any dog). So, for some of those same dogs who seemed "reluctant" to comply, a little encouragement went a long way to creating a better wroking relationship. It's exciting to watch the things we learned about in the classroom translate so quickly in the "work room" where we practice with the dogs.

It's easy to see already today all of the recipients (people actually receiving the dogs, as opposed to me, a facilitator) already have their hearts set on certain dogs, even though we aren't supposed to allow that to happen. Each of us was invited with at least 2-3 different dogs the trainers had in mind for us. We spend the first two days working with the dogs, and then, on the third day, we receive our "preliminary placement". That is to say that we will find out which dog the trainers believe will be the dog we leave with. In most cases, the preliminary match ends up being the final match, although changes do occur, and we are obliged to accept the change. As the first criteria in any placement is safety, it's vital to accept the trainers' words as the gospel truth in this process, including those regarding placements.

For Jarod's part, he came into this hoping for a "black doggie". However, he's worked almost solely with yellow dogs (all yellow labs or lab-retriever mixes). And while Jarod and I both have agreed which dog we think will make an excellent dog for him, it's not for us to say. We simply can hope and keep our fingers crossed.

Tomorrow we receive our preliminary placements--we can't wait to find out WHICH of these fabulous dogs will be Jarod's!


  1. I hope you get your first choice in dogs!!
    Any thought to how to apply that correction / motivation experience in the classroom?

  2. Good luck! I'm certain any one of them will soon garner a very special place in your hearts! Even if they are named basket...

  3. Oh man, correction and motivation in the classroom would be a lot easier if I had one of these leashes and the kids had the "correction collars!" Just kidding. But actually, the basic rule of "praise what you want, correct what you don't" would be a good motto for any teacher or parent. :)