Using your dog’s name in agility training
I had (what some would call) a true “blond moment” the other day, when I was waiting at the hospital to get some blood drawn. The woman came out with her clip board and called ‘Pamela’. I looked at her. She looked at her clipboard again and called my name again. I looked at her intently, and asked, ‘What did you say?’. She said “Pamela’. It then hit me, she was talking about me! I laughed and said, “I was expecting you to call out last names. So when you said Pamela, my first thought was ‘Isn’t that funny? Someone has a last name the same as my first name!'”.
Okay, you can laugh at me. But it WAS early in the morning, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. Plus, the brain can be a funny thing. Sometimes it gets stuck on something and it can impair our thinking, all but briefly!
I was thinking of this in relation to agility training. It’s very tempting to use our dog’s names a lot when trying to get their attention and do the obstacles we desire them to do. But its not a recommended practice. Dogs primarily associate their names to the activity of “coming”. Or at least, to give YOU focus, including looking into your eyes. Now, this may be fitting if your dog is running away from you, in an opposite direction, to call his name. It also can be useful if your dog has to make a sharp turn, and you are afraid he might run the wrong direction. But generally, you want your dog focused on the path ahead, and watching for your general body language cues. Not disrupted by having to give you a more full glance because you carelessly called his name at a time that really wasn’t necessary. This can slow up his speed and accuracy, and if overused, you will wear out the effectiveness of using his name when you really need it.
Now, if you do have to call your dog’s name, and he looks at you funny, be forgiving, okay? I can certainly understand what its like to have a mental block! 🙂