I was/am in a stuck spot with Ziggy, and had been for a while now. He was a great, attentive, quick-to learn puppy, but when I started to put some "pressure" on him to perform, the problems began. I recognize that I am in a stuck spot, but unfortunately I didn't have the training tools in my toolbox to get me out. That's what I was hoping my private with Celeste Meade would help with, and it did.
The lesson started with me doing a bit of work with Ziggy. "Pretend that you've just rented the ring to work your dog. And try to pretend that I'm not here" were the instructions I was given. Of course I was nervous, and not so good at the "pretend I'm not here" part. After a few minutes of me working with Ziggy, Celeste stopped me to discuss what she just saw.
The highlights of what she saw:
* Ziggy has no attention at all, and only pays attention when I'm moving.
* After I am done giving Ziggy his treat, and when I'm praising him, he puts his head down, and looks away as if I'm not there.
* Ziggy ignores me when I call his name.
* These things are my fault as a dog trainer.
Basically, Ziggy and I have a good social relationship, but no working relationship.
That was really hard for me to hear, and not because it's not true. All of this is true, and I absolutely take ownership of getting us here (I am the trainer in this situation, and I can't blame the dog for being who he is). It made me feel emotional because I've been frustrated for months and just didn't know what to do. I have a strong working relationship with Maggie & Denzil, so I know what "good" is - and I knew Z & I weren't in synch.
The great thing is that the lesson provided me with some things I can do, and games I can play, to help Ziggy become more attentive and care more about my touch and praise in a "work" setting. No more flipping me the paw and ignoring the person who loves him, houses him, feeds him, and takes care of his other needs.
I've rambled on for a while already, so I'll post some of the things I'm working on tomorrow.