Saturday, July 4, 2009

Training, dogs who do, dogs who think

Yesterday I put two 6" jumps side by side and Wall-e and I stood right in the middle of them, so it wasn't obvious which jump to take. First I sent him to the right jump with my body language, then the left jump, then the left jump again. He got every jump perfectly without hesitation! I did a very similar exercise with Mika a couple days ago, and the first time we tried it she simply took the first jump she saw, my crazy girlie!

It's interesting how different my two dogs are. Mika is a "doer" -- she often doesn't think when we do agility, she simply reacts on impulse (which perfectly matches her very impulsive nature in everyday life!). This does make for a very enthusiastic dog who can be independent on course and take obstacles on her own while I get into the best handling position. There's nothing like teaching Mika tricks -- she's so enthusiastic that she barks, growls, and yelps, and when we're in the middle of a trick session and I'm not telling her to do any tricks, she'll do every trick she knows, hoping to elicit a reaction! Since she doesn't think about what she's doing and what to do next, when we have a shaping session I have to take things very slowly and make the behaviour harder in tiny steps. She's so enthusiastic, though, that she always gets the behaviour in the end! She's a very fun trick dog and always gives me 110%!

On the other hand, Wall-e is more of a "thinker" -- he thinks before he does things, and when he doesn't understand something, I can actually see him working out the problem. When I teach him tricks, especially with shaping, I can often see him stop and think for several seconds, then proceed to do the right thing. He has great problem-solving skills.

Neither type of dog is good or bad, I just think it's interesting how different they are.



  1. That is a very interesting observation! I'm more of a thinker dog and get really nervous if I can't figure out what to do!

  2. You sure are smart though, knowing all the tricks you do! :) And your mom is a great trainer to teach you all of 'em!


  3. My two are the same way. Marron's my thinker, Spy's my doer. Marron tries to reason things out and Spy "rolladexes" as one trainer called it to see what I'm looking for!

  4. I think I a bit inbetween the two of them I likes to go for it, but I do think too.

  5. We key west collies are thinkers, but are very different in personalities. Essex reserved, watchful of Dad, barks with a purpose and focused. Deacon out going, enjoying the world, barks at who knows what at times and a busy watching all that goes around him.

    Essex & Deacon