It was finally a bit warmer and sunny so Shyla and I could play and train outside comfortably. Snow bombs were falling out of the trees though!
This post is part of the positive training blog hop. I've been on a very steep learning curve about how much play can change Shyla's state of mind. She and I have found a way of playing that revs her up, making her ready to retrieve with huge enthusiasm or happily do other less exciting training exercises.
Our warmup play routine also makes her recalls even faster!
I've learned that playing with Shyla before and during every training session really reinforces that I'm her partner and will protect her. With her fearful personality, that's very important. The second thing is that play revs up her drive to work. It's amazing how it transforms her state of mind (and mine too!).
Here's a video of us playing. After we played, you'll see that I had her do an exercise that required strong impulse control. I placed a treat between her front paws, and she needed to make eye contact with me before I'd say "get it" (meaning that she could eat the treat). She almost messed up the first one but then did the second two perfectly.
However, the issue with a dog like Shyla is that her excitement will dive downward after an "impulse control" exercise like that one. So, I immediately did another short play bout to bring her drive back up for our next training games.
Learning about the role of play in training has made a huge difference to me and Shyla. It took me a while to figure out how to play with her because she isn't the sort of dog who immediately grabbed a tug toy and started playing with me. I had to gradually cultivate her interest in playing with me by experimenting with different games and seeing what she liked. We're still experimenting! And, wow, we are having fun!