Are you paying enough?
Max reminded me of very important training concepts yesterday.
Dr. Max is my 1,900 lb (860kg) Belted Galloway bull. He's actually a pretty nice guy, likes back scratches, corn and of course, cows. Yesterday I was loading him into a trailer (by myself) to take him to the Vet. I'm selling him to another breeder and he needed a physical to make sure he was good to produce baby calves.
I had a small coffee can and poured a small pile of corn in the bottom of the trailer. Max took one swipe with his tongue and backed off the trailer. And pretty much told me to take a flying leap.
Fast forward almost an hour and a half later, two pastures, lots of swearing and at least 15 attempts to get him on the trailer. I gave up. I went to do chores.
About 10 minutes later I showed up to feed the neighboring mini donkeys and yearling cow. Max came at me....and stuck his head in the pail. I jumped on the trailer and poured the remaining grain, about 1 gallon, on the floor of the trailer.
Max watched me as I walked off the trailer, sniffed the floor and walked right on.
Turns out his 'price' to walk right on the trailer was 1 gallon of grain out of a 5 gallon bucket. A small pile out of a small pail is NOT going to do it.
This translates directly over to dog training. Are you paying enough in the currency the dog wants paid in, to get them to play the silly game you want them to play.
Max won't work (or load into a trailer) for a ball or tug toy. But a pile of corn, oh yes.
If you are having problems in your engagement or getting the consistency out of a training progression, ask yourself if you are paying enough in the right currency.
And remember, Max likes corn.
PS. Max passed his physical and is now hanging out with his new herd of girls. I took this video before the corn episode.
Robin Greubel MBA, ICF-ACC
Robin has been training working dogs since 2001 and educating working dog handlers and trainers all over the nation since 2008. While working in corporate America, she managed relationships and people using the same behavior principles she honed training dogs. Not only can these principles transform your ability to work at an elite level with your dog, but apply to every animal (humans too!) you work with. She is a professional certified coach and the CEO of the K9Sensus Foundation, a foundation that focuses on coaching the human end of the leash.