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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Was just thinking about how important to the learning process "down time" can be. Have a dog in pre-agility tonight who came through my beginner class and is a very nice little shaper. She gets the concept and learns quickly, and we were shaping "paws on" the teeter board layed on the ground. Because it was on the ground it only moved a little bit, and at first she was having fun getting it to pop up and down. Then apparently it moved a little too much for her taste and she was not wanting to put feet on it. (She is already familiar with the dog walk) Gave her a five minute break and came back to it. She immediately started placing two feet on it. It seems to me that often when training dogs, especially in a way that asks them to really solve problems, we put pressure on them when things aren't going well. Sometimes all it really takes is to take the pressure off for a few minutes. Another thing I've seen a lot is that dogs will take "think breaks" (and this little girl does that too). They will be sort of hitting the mark, disengage for a long sniff (that looks a bit more intense than just random sniffing) and then come back and nail the behavior. I think this may be part of the magic of Control Unleash's Gimme a Break game. Sometimes dogs really DO need to take the pressure off so they can think, and they are more aware of that need than their handler. Has anyone else noticed this?
 

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I don't do intense training like you are doing for agility. But I have noticed in every day normal things like basic commands ... that if we both take a "break" ... next session they seem to be quicker to respond in a positive manner.
 

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I have always worked non-competition dogs 3 times a week and used the term a day to work, a day to think. Not saying it's the way to go, just the way I went.

Through the years many times a dog with a problem I would just end the session with something happy and when returning after skipping a day the problem had just disappeared.

Competition dogs were worked as needed.
 

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I know that some trainers, like Karen Pryor, have suggested just throwing a free treat when the training session is getting frustrating.

Clinical research has shown that learners (dogs, people, et al. :) ) learn better when they have a good night's sleep to digest the lessons. In addition, there is a suggestion that new lessons can interfere with each other when new training presented within six hours of previous, not yet learned information.

So, the short answer is yes, I've run into using playtime and down time to let things percolate.
 

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When training becomes a bit unglued, I believe both dog AND handler can benefit from a momentary "think break" to process and digest the information currently presented to each party, respectively.

After all, it's a two-brain game.
 
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