On my way to the trial yesterday I stopped at a training center to drop off a rescue dog I was transporting.  The woman who took her is the head of the rescue group I volunteer for.  She is an absolutley brillant trainer, possibly one of the most talented I’ve ever met.  I’m so excited for her with this new job as head trainer at a very well-known facility.  It’s about time her talents have been recognized!  She works exclusively with rescue dogs who come in with all sorts of issues, which puts them way, way behind other dogs.  As a result, she has not yet made it to an international level of competition and so of course is overlooked.  But that she competes at regional and national levels with dogs that most people would have long ago put to sleep (and all of which were dumped and determined unadoptable for one reason or another) should really be an indication of her abilities, to say nothing of her passion and determination!

But I digress…

When I dropped off said rescue dog (who fortunately had a foster home ready and waiting for her because I was in love even after just having her in my car for 3 hours) we talked about training etc., as we always do.  I mentioned my apprehension about going into Pro-Novice because our driving really isn’t very strong yet, and it’s all about the drive.  She said the same had been true with her first herding dog (a rescue she came across at age 4, deemed incapalbe of working sheep by the open handler who took her in, who she competed with successfully after titling her in agility).  She felt it was because they did far too much wearing, creating a dog who wants to wear by default.  Since border collies typically want to go around the sheep and hold them to you, perhaps reinforcing that as the default behaviour is not such a great idea!  I have already started doing a little driving with Mira and I think I am going to do more with her, and ease off the wearing. 

This brought us to the topic of foundation training.  Is it possible to put too solid a foundation in your dog?  As I wrote in my previous post, this week I awoke with a start to the realization that precision is overrated in early training.  At least in herding.  Does this hold true in agility we wondered?  Perhaps… Here Hannah is, almost three, and she has never done an A-frame because her contacts are not perfect enough yet.  Hannah can all but read my mind when running an agility course, yet we’re holding her back because of precision.  Is this doing her any favours?  Is it doing me any?

I don’t know.  But it’s something to think about…

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