Okay, so I didn’t train Gretchen yesterday. I had a big project due for a class and really didn’t have time to work with her. One wouldn’t think she would have forgotten everything in the space of one day, however.
Well, I took her out in the yard after work for some training, and it was most frustrating. She wouldn’t focus, but spent the whole time with her nose to the ground. When I called her name in my “working” voice, she slowly gave me her attention. When I said “sit” she looked at me as though she had no clue what I was saying.
Then when I asked for a “down” she looked at me as though I had an arm growing out of my forehead. Luring didn’t work; she just tried to pry the food out of my hand. I resorted to the old fashioned pull-‘n-push method to get the sit, and another trick that I learned from a friend to get a down from a dog that won’t down.
I rarely use those physical methods because I feel that there are other methods that are effective; and there are some dogs that are touch-sensitive to begin with, and forcing a sit or a down from such a dog could result in a bite (remember, I train Rottweilers and German Shepherds). Anyway, I broke my own rule because Gretchen knows these cues, and I’m not sure why she chose not to do them. She’s 10 months old, so it’s possible that the virus called doggie adolescence has invaded her brain and wiped it clean.
One thing I learned today while training: it’s important to have many approaches, techniques, and tricks in one’s arsenal of training because it gives you a choice of things to try when something doesn’t work. Yes, I’m a die-hard operant-based clicker trainer, but sometimes luring, and capturing doesn’t work.
One must use common sense when training. Capturing and luring have their place, and that’s my first choice when training a puppy or a dog that has little or no experience with training. Once you have a dog with fluent behaviors that are on cue, it becomes tricky. It’s up to the handler/trainer to figure out why the dog won’t perform a specific behavior. Sometimes there’s a good reason, but at some point the dog needs to understand that performing a given cue is not an option.