This is my 200th post on my blog and I thought I would share an epiphany I had.
Our friends at ZoePhee mentioned "being more fun than the squirrel" on facebook and it really got me thinking!
I've been told in the past by a trainer before to be "more fun than the squirrel."
The truth is, if you own a head strong, independent dog with high prey drive - you will never be more fun than the squirrel. I'm not saying that you should just throw in the towel and not try to be. But what I am saying is that I have accepted that my dog, no matter what I do, is not always going to choose me instead of the "squirrel". Of course, the "squirrel" can be anything in life. This is kind of a metaphor for being the most fun thing ever, to be more fun than the thing your dog really wants! For your dog to choose YOU and NOT the THING!
What I like about IPO is that while I will never be as awesome as the bite sleeve/helper, my dog is willing to do the things I ask - in order to bite the sleeve. Because of this kind of training [if you heel you can bite, if you sit you can bite etc.] it has definitely helped with his impulse control and there has been a 100% improvement from the dog he used to be. By breed and genetics Seppel is an impulsive dog. He will always be one to act first and think later, but because of the training that we do he has gotten a lot better.
I think impulse control games and really any kind of training that involves allowing the dog the thing it wants in exchange for a task, etc, is awesome. I think they work in helping teach our impulsive dogs to think about their choices. However, as I said above, I have fully accepted my dog for who he is. He is not a working breed, he is not a herder, his brain does not always immediately go to me. I see it daily in the choices he makes. Like today, when running the blinds he insisted on "checking" the hot blind, he KNOWS what he should be doing, he could hear me calling him fruitlessly, but he still did what he wanted to do. I'm not trying to make excuses for him, but it's like with some things he just can't help himself, his self control is extremely limited. It's just the kind of dog he is and I am totally okay with it.
On the flip side, I have been learning how to do helper/decoy work from our trainer. Thinking about it today I realized, when I am wearing the sleeve, I get to be the squirrel! I get to be the squirrel for my dog and for other dogs, and that is awesome! It's a wonderful feeling to be the thing that they want most! I am really excited to continue to learn helper work. I don't know if I will ever be great at it, but I hope I can help my club out and be good enough to work their dogs even on a basic level. If anything I am enjoying learning to new things and adding to my training tool box. It's pretty freaking fun to "be the squirrel" :D