Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Seven Habits of Effective Time Limited Trainers ...

Big T and I live with too many dogs. Some days finding play training time for one dog is challenging.  Currently having 2 puppies under a year old  means eking out play time daily. Time management is easier on sabbatical, but I continue to need to maximize my use of time.

Steven Covey's Habits of Highly Effective People tie in very nicely to the way we make it work around here! Each of the following is a Covey's Habit; the comment is my application to time limited training (TLT) . 

1.Be Proactive
Stay? On a hay bale? In November? OK Crazy lady!

In TLT this equates to: Seize the Moment ... . Going out a door, coming in, chopping vegetables, a commercial, going upstairs, folding laundry - all offer great opportunities for  play training. It's only going to be 5 seconds? Awesome! Wyn has learned down in no more than 5 second chunks (many 5 seconds chunks and now we are taking the down show on the road so we may need 10 seconds once or twice). Agility play around here can be a single jump some days. 

2. Begin with the End in Mind
Planning is your friend in TLT. If you know where you want to get to the journey may not be as exciting but I find a map can save some time.  If time is tight some minutes set aside to determine short, medium and long term goals will ensure you make the most of your training minutes. My short term goal with Wyn is civilizing the hooligan, my medium term goal is getting some foundation for sports developed and my long term goal is a scent detection trial, perhaps next fall!

3. Put First Things First
Ties nicely to  planning too - knowing Wyn needs to be civil first the vast amount of TLT revolves around that at the moment. We practice sit, down, walking beside me, and are starting the fundamentals of leave it and down. When we have a little more time (around 5 minutes) we work go to mat, hand touches, and very early directionals. When we have lots of time (here that's defined as 6 minutes or more) I drag out the scent boxes 

4. Think Win-Win
Nothing like a little recall work worked into fun time!

Break it down - of course you aren't always going to WIN it all ... but why not set TLT up so you both feel successful? Really have to do whatever you want to get done on the way to the car? It might not be the best day to work perfect heel - maybe a change of side or a front cross would be a better win-win TLT move in this context. Failure and mistakes are important to learning, I would posit essential in fact, but plan when you have time to work through that particular process. TLT should be joyful!

5. Seek First to be Understand then to be Understood
If you don't understand  what you are training TLT will not be for you. Your dog needs you to understand the plan, how you are going to accomplish it and when you will stop. Without those details in hand TLT will frustrate you, and potentially harm your relationship with your dog.

6. Synergize
Working together is perhaps the most important habit for TLT.  Work with your dog, your coach, your friends and family to maximize TLT. When I was preparing Sally for agility in the great outdoors I asked Big T to let me know any time he was going to our local beer store. Our local beer store is a busy spot with a nice grassy bit beside it and a very active hotdog stand. Sally and I travel with him then jump out of the car, race to the grass and work. Start line stays, directionals, go (to a mat I brought), and moving together were some of things we worked on when we were there.  1 minute,  3 minutes. No matter. We made the most of the time we had. Working with hot dog smells, traffic, beer bottles being loaded and unloaded makes a trial pretty tame in comparison!

7. Sharpen the Saw
Running makes Sally happy, watching Sally run makes me happy. 
We try to sharpen our saw a little every day!

The least obviously connected to TLT,  the last of the habits is actually critical. Covey means take care of your well being. The saw (you) won't work right if it's not sharp. Physical, Mental, Social/Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing all combine to create the sharpest you possible. Susan Garret has discussed this and shown this. She works out, eats carefully and just tonight posted a cute video of her playing air guitar. Sometimes when time is tight the best thing you can do for your dog is take the pressure off and play or go for a walk. Enjoy just being. What brings you joy is just as important to define as what brings your dog joy. Time should be invested in what makes you both happy. 

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