My dog related email lists have been buzzing with a link
to a commercial for Doritos. It has dogs in it and is 1 of 5 finalist and may be seen during the Super Bowl. I finally got around to clicking the link. Absolutely, hysterical!!!!!! I loved it and am sharing it with you hoping that you will get the same chuckle that I did.
Ok, so it has agility in it, but that is not really why I thought it was so funny. It was the look on the two men's face when they looked down upon their poor Basset after watching the lightning fast dog zip around the course. Doritos, yes that's it Doritos may just be the thing that can transform this Basset into the Border Collie of our dreams!!
How many of us started our doggie training out like this. If I can just find the right treat, bribe, toy I will have a dog that wants to do what I ask, how I ask, and with a border line neurosis to get it done as fast as they can, oh and keep coming back for more? How did that work out for you? How many times have you seen the bribe/luring method in the Novice ring? The weave pole dance, or the table is suddenly called "cookie" or the best one I ever heard was, every time this person's dog would leave them to roam around the course she would start calling "PIZZA" trying to convince the dog that she miraculously had pizza in the ring and if she would just come back she could have all the pizza she wanted.
I don't point this out to poke fun. I point it out because bribery never works. It doesn't even work on kids! Luring dogs or kids into doing what you want is a short term solution that will not work for a long term behavior. Does this mean not rewarding desired behavior with something that the dog/kid really likes? No. It means that you can not offer the reward first, in order to get the behavior you want. That is luring. Think, donkey with the stick tied to its neck with a carrot dangling in front to keep it walking. Yes, the end result is the donkey is walking, but it is not thinking or learning. Did you really teach it anything? Will it keep walking if the carrot is gone? Not usually.
With kids, reinforcing a good choice that they made on their own increases the likelyhood that they will repeat that choice again. Rj picks up his shoes and put them in the closet and I react with praise and a reward, it is more likely that he will initiate that behavior again vs. "RJ if you put your shoes away you can have xyz." He may put them away at that moment but the likelyhood that he will initiate that behavior independently in the future is slim since he did not choose to do it. He did not actively think about it before the reward.
With dogs and agility it is no different. The dog that is lured over the jump with the cheese is less likely to independently perform that obstacle at any time in the future. That means you are now running along side your dog and pointing and asking for every single jump. I don't know about you but I can't keep up with my dog that way and I can't babysit every jump or I will never be able to change directions (front cross or rear cross). But if you introduce the jump to them show them what they need to do with it and then wait.......wait for them to think it through, wait for them to choose to go over the jump, then reward. You have a dog that will more than likely perform those jumps independent of you and with more joy! The joy comes from "wow I get to do something I think is fun and natural and I get treats or toys for doing it" how cool it that!?
So stop 'helping' so much and try to wait. Wait and see if the wheels start turning then reward! It will make a world of difference!
PS if you go to this link you will also find a video about the making of the commercial. I found that very interesting also.