Motivation and the Performance Dog

Monday, October 1, 2007

This has been bugging me for a while so I figure I might as well ramble about it.

I was talking with a friend of mine explaining that in my next puppy I would like to get a little more drive.

My friend replied that I am just not being motivating enough -- that there must be something in the world that the dog enjoys enough to give the performance I'd like, and if not then the dog must not be hungry/lonely enough to find it motivating.

Do WHAT? Why on Earth would I want to starve or ignore my dog just to get a faster obstacle performance in a GAME? It's supposed to be FUN for pete's sake! Now I don't mean I don't think you should train when the dog is hungry for breakfast or dinner - but that's very different from withholding several meals on a regular basis, or leaving your dog in a crate for the entire day so they're so happy to see you that they'll do anything for you.

I love my dogs and I love this sport, but BECAUSE I love my dogs I don't want to try to "force" them to love the sport! I do what I can to show them it's a fun game and to reward their best efforts, but if they don't enjoy it why should I ask them to do it? Maybe they find something else more enjoyable, or maybe they just have a laid-back attitude about life and don't get riled up about anything at all.

When it comes down to it, my relationship with my dogs comes first. Some say the above attitude will keep me from "getting anywhere" in agility, but so what? It's a fun game that I play with my dogs -- and as long as my dogs are happy doing it, so am I. :)