Clean Run - June 2011 - (Page 71)

Good EnouGh Enough? By Linda Randall, DVM When is “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Voltaire In agility training, we are constantly confronted with choices, and the education of the team is always a work in progress. There is a long to-do list that includes (but is far from limited to) training plans, data charts, handler workouts, entry closing dates, operant conditioning sessions, obedience drills, and just playing with your dog. How do we deal with this extreme excess of responsibilities? For each one we need to decide when our investment in time outweighs the improvement in behavior or skill. In other words, we need to use the “principle of good enough” or POGE. The Principle of Good Enough In the computer world, where the acronym POGE is often used, the principle of good enough goes something like this: someone designs hardware or software that is far from perfect. Everyone knows it isn’t perfect, and even the designer can see flaws. But, once it is deemed usable by many, it is good enough to be put out to the public. After that, as the public encounters problems (many, as I said, which were already known to exist), the imperfections are fixed, patched, changed, or modified. In many instances this has worked well, and has resulted in an excellent return on investment. There are, however, times when a company heartily wishes it had raised the bar on good enough. This may occur when negative publicity, or irritation with a problem, outweighs the thrill of innovation, and people stop buying the product. The POGE can be risky, but, if it works out, if the bar is set at just the right height, it can also reap huge benefits. You may not realize it, but you probably already have a good enough training program in place. When you review your current plan, including training sessions, classes, and trials, you will be able to see what your tolerance for good enough actually is. At what point have you decided that your dog’s contacts are satisfactory, your June 11 | Clean Run rear crosses are getting the job done most of the time, and you don’t want to spend more valuable training time on them? Would it be at 80% success at trials? 90%? 100%? What about those weave entries? Knocked bars, running front crosses? Is good enough in training equal to good enough in competition? If you can qualify at most CPE trials, but have a hard time at AKC or USDAA trials, is that all right? The benefits of working each obstacle, each handling maneuver, to a good enough standard are many, the disadvantages few. In a scientific sense, the closer one gets to perfection, the more difficult any skill becomes and there is considerably less return on effort. In fact, it is understood that it is impossible to reach perfection in many cases. This is also why we have an 80/20 rule in clicker training. When you have 80% proficiency, it may not be worth the effort to get the last 20%. Instead, it is more efficient to change a criterion that makes the behavior either more difficult or moves it closer to the desired end product, then train to 80% success again. 71

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - June 2011

Clean Run - June 2011
Editorializing: When Did Agility Become About Looks?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 3
Sharpening Your Snooker Skill: Teach Your Dog to Bypass Obstacles
Lameness in Agility Dogs
Confessions of a Gambling Addict, Part 2: Planning the Opening
AKC’s New Kid on the Block: Time 2 Beat
Challenges for Rising Stars
Intervertebral Disc Disease in the Canine Athlete
Challenges at CR Central
FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 2
Ready, Set, Trial! Walk, then Run
Tips for Training Running Contacts, Part 1
When is Good Enough Enough?
Agility Bloopers

Clean Run - June 2011