I’m an absolutely horrible handler. And and even worse trainer.
Today, I decided to practice jumps with Cessna and Canyon in an effort to be ready for our return to agility tomorrow. I cleared off the coffee table and flipped it upside down. Our coffee table has a piece of wood that goes between each of the legs, so it makes for a good jump. I first put Canyon into a down-stay and then got Cessna to sit about three feet from the first “jump”. As soon as I called her “over”, Canyon broke his stay and got into her way. I firmly told Canyon to go back to his spot, not realizing this action was the start of a rough session with Cessna – she had become unsure because of my tone. I then returned to Cessna and still did not notice her demeanor. I asked her to go “over” and she proceeded to walk around the legs instead of jumping over the wood between them. I immediately said “wrong” and called her to return to the spot where she’d started. I still hadn’t caught on to her nervous behaviour. I again asked her to come “over” and she again proceeded to walk around the “jump”. I’m terrible, I raised my voice. I didn’t realize she was already nervous. I lost sight of my goal and just wanted perfection. When I raised my voice, she walked away. I should have taken the clue and stopped everything for a cuddle session or game of tug, something she enjoys.
Instead, I proceeded to work on the “jumps” with Canyon. After he got the gist of what I wanted, he was a star. I should have checked in with Cessna. I shouldn’t have ignored her feelings. I just didn’t realize she was upset until I called her back for another try.
I finally clued in. I got all excited and did some easy commands for treats. She perked up and seemed eager to try something new. I then took her collar and showed her what I wanted. She did okay.
I should have noticed. I should have thought about how my actions would effect her. I should have remembered that she still has those underlying worries. I shouldn’t have raised my voice. I shouldn’t have been pushing for perfection.
I’m a terrible handler. And an even worse trainer…