Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why Do I Ask?

Recently I asked a simple question on the pug agility list, "How to develop more obstacle focus", I mentioned that the dog I was specifically asking in reference to (Abby) is young and competing at the Ex. level, just because I know she's young and wanted people to understand this is a dog who, even though she's running at high level really is still learning some foundation behaviors, like most Ex A dogs.

I don't push my dogs to compete while they're young. Agility is just a part of daily life, it was mentioned that "at 2 years old Abby needs to be playing not training" Isn't training play? That sure seems to be what my dogs think. All of my dogs have moved up very quickly, I made the decisions back when Abby was only 1 and got her novice and open titles to move her up.....the novice courses weren't doing her *any* favors. Those courses are so wide open, that all she was going to learn was to ignore my motion cues.....because all I was doing was running like heck, trying not to lose her in a trap, too much time in novice and a dog like Abby would just end up very confused about the handling system she was taught. I moved her out of open because the courses really aren't much different in Ex, sure she would probably Q a bit less, since no mistakes are allowed, but who cares. There was no reason not to move her up.

I'm just frustrated because I've been accused of pushing my pugs too hard several times from "pug people" who don't even know me. I only asked the question on the pug list, simply because a lot of companion breeds tend to be overly handler focused and most people I know and train with are not running small companion breeds like pugs. Teaching a dog to to take obstacles in front of them without you right there to babysit is a foundation skill, just like performing contacts or weave poles correctly.....I'm not asking for anything unreasonable.

Abby's young and very motivated and I know this skill will come, just like every other bobble we've worked though. She went through a phases of running past the first jump if I led out, of not weaving at trials and running past the table.....just like most green dogs go through various issues, no matter what their age.

The pug agility list is a great resource, but I think I'll take any questions I have elsewhere.


Jamie said...

Hi. I agree with your philosophy of training is playing. When I'm training the pugs, I always try to make it fun. I am in the process of reading the pigs fly book, and I am trying to incorporate some of their ideas into my training as well. That is what is fun about training. My approach is ever-evolving. When I first started, I tried to drill too much. Now I just randomly do a few moves and we're done (5 minutes top per session and half of it may be playing tug). Also, the pugs are learning how to play more. We're working on tug and ball focus. In rally, I have done the same as you have. When we finished the title, we moved up. We've been in excellent for awhile (considering it is rally). But, I try to compete for fun and experience as well (though I still have a serious nerves problem which often screws that up). I don't think moving up quickly is that big of a deal, as long as you are not being overbearing and demanding more than you know Abby can give. And, it definitely sounds like that is NOT a problem. If it makes you feel any better, I often receive a lot of "crap" regarding hiking with the pugs, especially when I have them wear their backpacks. Essentially, people do not think pugs should be hiking. They're lap dogs. And, they shouldn't have to wear their packs. I should just let them "be dogs." They LOVE hiking, and they love their packs. I actually had one person quite seriously indicate that small dogs like the pugs shouldn't be on the trail since it is dangerous and "they're too pretty to be up here."

Margie said...

I haven't read the board yet but from what you've said, some of it seems totally out of line. I too play agility with my dogs every single day and I don't think for one second are my dogs overworked or stressed. And Aoife has been doing this since she was a little puppy! She was only 9 weeks old when she started to follow Clancy into tunnels and soon after could do sends into them. I don't think my dogs have ever been pushed. It's all play, play, play for them. And having interacted with Abby I can say for certain that she is one high drive fun loving pugs! :-)

westoverpugs said...

Jamie, Isn't terrible how so many people think! My pugs would be so depressed if they couldn't get out and really enjoy life!

Margie, Thanks for the vote of confidence....I know Abby's happy. She's not the most consistent dog.....but how many are, no matter what age!

I know people mean well, but it irritates me to no end...I recieved several emails about this too. I feel like I'm from a different planet than some of these people. I know we're in a very competitive area for agility, so maybe that's why attitudes are so different????

Jamie said...

I am so sorry about this Jesse. Abby always looks so thrilled in the photos you post of her. She definitely does NOT look like a dog that has been pushed too hard. You can tell...Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if I had border collies. Sometimes I wonder why pug people (not meaning to generalize) become so upset when other people with pugs allow them to have fun and participate in life fully. I often get sick of people "reminding me" that the pugs aren't big that matters. Anyway, that's why I no longer post on PV. I am just a weird pug person, I guess.

westoverpugs said...

Weird pug people unite!