Thursday afternoon group class is consistently noted by students as a fun and productive way to take an hour out of the workday and enjoy some sun and socialization in our outdoor training area.
This well-attended class is comprised of several short intervals of basic obedience training followed by stress busting group-play time. Yes, dogs are learning and practicing valuable skills and techniques alongside their handlers. Of course, socialization and unstructured free-time is very important, but the true magic moments of this class occur in the minutes that separate the two marquis activities.
Every four years during the Winter Olympics, the unusual sport of the biathlon comes on television. This is a perfect example of the value of the transition. Athletes combine cross-country skiing with precision target shooting. Success relies on mastery of mind and body to perform each unique task on-demand. This is precisely what we are practicing by releasing our dog with a "go play" then consciously bringing them down from warp speed back to a learning mindset.
This is real-world training. As humans, we often have places to go and we can't wait for our dogs to become exhausted from play. Other times, play may escalate into rough-housing or other predecessors of unsafe scenarios. In any case, the ability to spin-down from short abrupt bursts of excitement is an invaluable skill for a handler and dog to master.
At the end of the hour, the switch is once again set to "off" for the final time. Happy faces and wagging tails calmly go back to the business of their Thursday afternoon. This is truly time well spent.