Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
The importance of rituals...
I'm looking for opinions/experiences on how important (or not) you think little rituals are when training or competing in Schutzhund. What I mean is, little things like how you load/unload your dog, what little work you say or sounds you make before going onto the field, whether you let the dog get a little whiff of their tracking reward (if used), how you warm up, etc. Stuff like that that is not part of what is being scored.
I am very new to SchH and more and more I see a lot of emphesis placed on these little rituals, sometimes almost as much as the training itself. This is something very new to me as a dog owner. Now as a gymnast I can *totally* relate, lol. Every routine in every competition had a ritual for me, even how I did my hair, how I stretched out, prepped my hands, etc. But as far as my dogs, up until now I haven't placed any emphesis on developing a ritual. With Kenya I have dabbled in a few things - three levels of rally obedience, two types of agility, three CGC exams, a temperament test, and the obedience phases for Family Obedience and Protection 1 for dog sport. We'll do the BH and CD as soon as I get around to it. So far my only ritual has been letting my dog sniff around the venue, doing a few minutes of warm up, then putting the dog up until its our turn. But I don't use the same leash/collar, say the same word, load/unload the dog the same or anything like that. In fact in these areas of training I purposely "mixed it up" whenever possible so that the dog was proofed to perform her skills in any condition in any order. Now these other things I have done with Kenya are not as complicated as SchH, but she's done very well (has never NQ'd or failed anything yet). But with Nikon I feel more pressure to develop these little rituals with him. So I am wondering how common this is? What is the value? To me it seems like ritualizing things TOO much only sets us up for disaster when things don't go as planned. But maybe the dog is easier to turn on and off when he knows what to expect?