Monday, February 29, 2016

Repetition: This Week's Blog Post

I thought for a while that I could sustain the blog with an interaction between training Kassi and how that training and those commands related to writing.  I still think there’s still value in that idea, but I also think that I need to broaden the parameters of posts.  I’m not sure yet what that will entail, but I’ll probably experiment with the format over the next few weeks...

As I’ve said before, Sunny was nine years old when Kassi came along, and to be honest with you, I had forgotten how I had trained him, at least until I started training Kassi.  The basics, sit, stay, etc. came easily enough, but the more specialized commands seemed difficult, until I realized that my secret to training Sunny was repetition.   Every time I put his leash on him, I said, “Get your leash on,” and he would go to the same spot and wait to be leashed.  Kassi followed suit.  Now she does it, sits alongside Sunny just like Sunny sat alongside Brodi.  Every time we leave, I tell Kassi, “Go get in your crate.” And she does, willingly because I also give her a treat and put in her favorite bone to chew.  She knows what’s going to happen long before it does by our actions, getting on our shoes, coats, readying to leave, but I say it anyway.  Every time.  When I release her from her crate, I say the same thing every time. And I will always keep on saying it to calm her, to give her comfort, so she knows what to expect.  When I give the dogs treats, I always tell them to “Be Nice.”  It's a command that means be patient, wait, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, be gentle.  Kassi watched Sunny from the start and now she’s a pro at "Be Nice."  If I fail to give that command it’s all about the food, and I’m risking and encouraging aggression and that's something I don't want to do.  If I got a nick on my finger it would be my own fault.  So, the secret is repetition…always, even when the dog shows you that they know what's coming next.

As a writer, or artist of any kind, the same mindset can be applied to make life easier.  Show up every day, establish a routine, keep doing it over and over until the patterns become established and you are able to get out of your own way.  Repetition is boring, but it almost guarantees a body of work over a period of time, over a career.  But repetition is a necessity to sustain a creative life and to train a sane, relaxed hundred eighty pound hunting dog.   

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