Sunday, April 27, 2008

What CU is Not!

This was a post on the CU Yahoogroup by Leslie McDevitt, author of Control Unleashed book.....

it has come to my attention that a couple of people out in the world are viewing my work as a rationale for making dogs who are inappropriate for a certain kind of work, do it anyway.those of you who have been on this list for a while,and those of you who know me, know this is the opposite of my intention in putting that book out know that i don't force or push dogs. you know that my emphasis is on reading each dog, honoring themas an individual and adjusting criteria to suit them.from my story about rumor's retirement from Rally, you know that if i even suspect my own dog isn't having what i consider to be enough fun trialing but is rather doing it for me vs for me AND for the enjoyment of doing it, even if he is winning first place and looks showy in the ring and people are coming up to tell me how good he looks, i won't continue to trial the book i talked about criteria for accepting dogs into CU class and said that if a dog didn't meet that criteria, no way should he be in a sport class. i meet dogs all the time who are not only in sport classes but going to trials, who don't' meet my criteria even to be taught mat work near another dog. just because somebody does an exercise from the book at a trial because their dog is stressed, does not mean they are following my system. CU is a system with a lot of thought and heart behind it, it is not random exercises, and part of that system is getting to know your dog and how to meet his emotional needs.CU is about honoring your dog for being who he is and part of that is knowing if you are pushing too much and whether he is OK for any type of sport class or trials. and then if sports are appropriate for him,using them therapeutically to build confidence and a sense of accomplishment and teamwork. the "CU dogs"i work with love their sport and once their anxiety about other dogs or whatever, is taken away so they can put their whole mind on their job, or once their high dis distractability or arousal getting in the way of their performance is addressed so they can concentrate, they really shine in the ring. if they don't enjoy what they're doing enough, yes, part of CU is motivational work but that doesn't mean that every dog should do whatever his owner wants in the name of motivational work; there is a limit to what we are entitled to ask of our dogs. all dog training systems include some type of motivational work because trainers want dogs to like training, but that needs to be balanced with knowing your dog and knowing what's fair to ask of him. i have seen too many dogs stressed out by unnaturally forced 'motivational' work when they were upset. an example is a teacher putting a toy in a border collie's mouth while she was panicking in class and trying to make her tug with the hope of making her like class better; this tremendous pressure shut her down and made her like class even less. you will note that my motivational work comes in the form of the 'give me a break game' where the dog is choosing to ask for more and there is no pressure being put on him.CU gives dogs coping skills to reduce stress or distractibility and tools for the handler to build the dog's enthusiasm to work. that is NOT an excuse for making a dog do an activity he is not suited to--or one that he may be suited to in the future but is not ready for right now. that all goes back to the CU emphasis of knowing and honoring your dog for who he is, adjusting your criteria, meeting his needs would break my heart to think people are out there putting dogs in stressful situations that aren't appropriate for them and saying 'it's OK because I'm doing CU.' it's not OK, it's not CU.those of you who are local to me and who have seen Snap run, know that he is HAPPY when he runs(sometimes a little too happy ) if i look at him before a run and think he looks tired or 'done' for the day i scratch. once during a run, the last run of the day, a dog barked outside the ring (which is something he had to learn to feel safe around) and if it had been an earlier run he would have stayed happy and worked through it, but the combo of that stimulus and his waning energy level from being there all day--bite threshold model stuff, people--caused him to notice the bark and look in the direction while he continued moving with me and following my lead. that was enough for me to happily pretend we were done with our run and run towards the exit, taking the obstacles right at the exit so he didn't feel like we were leaving the ring prematurely which would have felt like a problem to him. i will not run him if he is not at 100% of his comfort level. when it is his turn, he is ASKING me to run, or I am not running him.
feel free to cross post. Leslie

No comments: