Too Busy

I haven't been getting Lyra out to generalize her behaviors.  Too busy these days.

I have a lot going on with training, seminars, writing a book, raising kids, and random things that I need to do.  It's not unusual for me to work from morning till night, and I don't see a change in the near future.

But somehow...I had time to play on Facebook today.  I had time to buy coffee beans.  I even had time to sit down and work on this blog post.  Being busy is a relative thing; I'm too busy to do things I don't really feel like doing but I find time to do things that I want to do, or that I understand are not optional (coffee beans are not optional).

Maybe "too busy" is a way to avoid some aspects of dog training that I don't enjoy. Maybe I like to stay in my familiar training area where Lyra can learn new stuff and be a star, because that's more fun than generalizing Lyra's work in the world where we may have minimal success.  I always seem to find time for quick sessions at home, but rarely can I find that same time to do training that I don't enjoy as well.  I'm too busy for that.

Lyra's primary need is to develop her focus to work in new places.  I know that I should start this now, so that by the time we are ready to compete she will have had  hundreds of opportunities to work and play in lots of new areas.   I know that she needs to see dogs in the distance until they become a cue to focus on me.  I know that she needs to see plenty of strangers until she loses her hope that they will come over and visit.  I know that we need to practice going to new places until new places automatically cue her to check in and see if work is a possibility.

But it's not very rewarding when I could be here playing with my superstar.  It's not fun to watch a dog gaze into the distance or sniff the ground.  In public, I want to train and Lyra be a puppy.  Lyra wants to do puppy things and have puppy interests.  She does not want to focus on me when the world is calling; she wants to see new sights and meet new people.

How is it that I'm too busy to prepare my young dog for one of the most important aspects of competition?

Lyra could care less if she ever attends a dog show.  But if I'm serious about competing with her, then I don't have the option of ignoring her training needs now and then complaining later when she's distracted or stressed in the ring.  I need to train for a competition dog, not a trick dog that looks good in my yard.  If we're going to do my sport, then I'm responsible for training what she needs to learn- no excuses.

I need to make time.  Time to attend training classes, fun matches, and to work on the exercises I don't enjoy very much.   Complaining about being too busy will lessen my guilt but it won't make me successful.

I did get Lyra out today; put her in the car when I went to buy my coffee.  It added ten minutes to the trip; less time then I spent on Facebook.  She did pretty well, which will help me stay motivated to try again tomorrow.

How about you?  Has your instructor told you that you need to attend fun matches or work more in new locations?  Practice around other dogs?  Work on your weave entries or contacts?  Play with your dog more?  Did you make time or were you too busy?

Did you have time for Facebook today?



How sad that you would expose your dog to plenty of strangers until “she loses her hope that they will come over and visit”, or that other dogs only serve as a cue to focus on you.

Aside from environmental, what other forms of deprivation do you use to meet your competition goals?

Yes, it is difficult to watch a dog sniff the ground when you want to train.
As a professional, certainly you recognize that as a displacement activity.
Your dog is trying to tell you something in the only way she can.
If you were able to focus on your dog’s needs, rather than your need to compete and win, you might not feel so frustrated.

You describe yourself as a professional trainer.
Could you tell us what your credentials are?


As I mentioned in a previous post on the topic, deprivation is a relative thing. In my mind, the amount of deprivation that Lyra is exposed to (not allowed to socialize with people or dogs in public when I am available for work) is reasonable. However, I recognize that each person needs to decide what is comfortable, so maybe for your dogs access to new people and dogs is a basic right.
Sniffing may be displacement or it may be a way of exploring the environment. To know the difference I look at the context and the dog’s overall demeanor. When Lyra is in public, I ask nothing of her whatsoever – she offers to work if she wants to, and I simply agree. Under those circumstances, I have no reason to presume that her sniffing is displacement.

Connie Kaplan

I took my girl and trained outside of an offleash dog park and it went really well. I train in a variety of places, but need to have more distractions and this post was a great inspiration for that. Thanks Denise!

Tamara mcintosh

Awesome post and so very true!!

Helen Verte

Just what I needed. Generalizing takes such effort while training in my back yard or house is so rewarding. Kicking one’s own butt takes work! Thanks for an inspiring post.

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