A couple of months ago, during a lesson where Diesel was acting as my demo dog, I put him on a stay in the corner, walked away to continue teaching and soon I had a dog standing 6 ft from me and staring, wondering why I was not paying attention to him (that is not stay!). This was becoming more common with him. Huh? How did Diesel’s stays deteriorate at such a rapid rate? One day I had a dog almost ready for the Open ring, and the next I had one that wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to walk across the room.
I got to work re-teaching out of sight stays from the very beginning, to discover we didn’t even have that any more. So we went further back, broke the exercise into tiny little pieces so he could be successful and worked our way back up. In only a couple of training sessions, his stays had returned and I could leave the room and have him maintain his position.
Until I had another lesson. Aha! Turns out, Diesel isn’t cut out to be a demo dog, at least not in the same way that Rugby acts as a demo dog. At this point in his training, Diesel needs my full, undivided attention to be confident and secure in his work. Building the kind of confidence that makes a good demo dog in one that doesn’t have it takes time.Diesel acts as one of the figure-8 posts during a semi-private lesson.
I have always known Diesel needs extra support and encouragement. His stay problem was a sign that I lost sight of this fact and was expecting too much, too soon. I have since changed how he works as a demo dog with great results. Now he is working better than ever both as a demo dog and on his own training, preparing for his debut in Open.