Friday, March 26, 2010

The Utter Frustration of Training

I am keeping a pretty busy schedule for myself, outside of work.  Prior to owning Ghilley, my training night was Thursday at 9pm.  Occasionally I would try to get to obedience class on Tuesday nights but had pretty much given that up in the face of work.

Getting Ghilley (and losing Duff) have helped to re-prioritize things.

I now find myself scrambling to leave work "early" (not really but early compared to those that live at work) on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Tuesday night is conformation class night where I am working to perfect Ghilley and my ring-readiness towards getting her breed championship.

Thursday night is agility class where beginner's for Ghilley is at 7pm (Robbie's class is at 9pm still).

Wednesday night is kind of a bonus thing for me.  I go to Dogs in the Ring ( to have a private training session for Ghilley with Dee Lulik (

Dee is our agility instructor on Thursday nights.  I have referred to her before.  She is much more than that too.  She is also a coach to her students and, often, a confidante and counselor on dog-related and other matters.  It is pretty amazing all the different queries and issues she manages.

Well, the purpose of my blog post today is with respect to my private session this past Wednesday night.

We did not have a lesson on March 17th due to Dee already being in Louisville for a 4-day cluster of shows and my journeying down there for it.

Once at the trial, I found myself running Robbie in agility and then managing to show Ghilley in conformation.  It can be quite busy but I actually did not have too many conflicts that could not be managed.

I was concentrated on managing Ghilley's conformation ring manners as far as training goes so our work on other things such as targetting, sits, stays, etc. took a vacation for my time in Louisville.

Well, it showed in my lesson this past Wednesday night.  While Ghilley did really well, I know I was still tired from a Sunday drive home that brought me home at 8:30pm and am still (on Friday now) trying to get some extra sleep to eliminate the fatigue.

I was not at my best on Wednesday as far as patience goes.  Ghilley is good a sitting, but only if I am in front of her.  Trying to get her to sit on my left or my right is painful.

Years of training Duff and Robbie in obedience, first, has made me very capable of getting a heel-like sit on the left.  But I am completely mentally challenged to produce the same result on the right from a puppy who does not understand it.

Both Duff and Robbie knew sit and were good about cueing into a sit at my side.  Teaching the right side was not a big deal.

But Ghilley is a different matter.  I looked like a first-time dog owner trying to do it and I could see Dee struggle to be patient since she knows I am not new to this. 

Dee smiled at me as she calmly directed me to get Ghilley into position on my right.  We were not going to be able to manage the jump-tunnel-jump sequence without a sit at my side.  But I could see the pain in that smile and I felt pretty pathetic that I have a 9 month old puppy who is basically a knucklehead.  Kind of like having a 5 year old kid who is not potty trained, I think.

I talked about my lesson the next day with my friend Hope.  She asked if I see the training I have to do as a monumental task.  My response was "yes".  I am in training classes 3 days a week.  Two of those days, it is 8:30 or 9:00pm before I am home.  I need to spend time with Robbie (who comes along but does not train).  At some point I need to get back to a workout routine but am thinking of a 4:30am wakup call for that end of things.  I am also tired at the end of the day before work is stressful with what appears to be a constant steady state of financial reporting insanity.

Hope's advice is simple, break it down to 2-3 minutes in little bits everyday and end it there.  I keep thinking of 30 minutes or an hour here or there and find myself overwhelmed.  This is not new.  Dee has mentioned similar quick bursts.  But I keep harkening back to the way I used to train my boys.

So, here is to the quick bursts of things to, eventually, get little Ghilley to a point where she will concentrate a little more on the task at hand, figure things out and have fun while doing it.


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