Friday, July 07, 2006

training progress, slowly but surely

We've been busy a couple of different things for Sierra over the past several days.

First is reinforcing left-side position LOTS. Not a formal competition heel but a LLW position with about 18" (about 45cm) radius. Dog is in position she gets attention, smiles, cookies, training opportunities, games... all the good stuff in life. By contrast, standing in front or back of me or by my right is rather boring. One day we'll get that formal heel but for now we're working on daily life style instead of stylized ring stuff, which might sound simple but is actually not terribly practical for dogs to maintain on an entire walk.

We've been revving up the tennis ball to make it a super-high value reward. All of the dogs I grew up with (Aussie/Cattledogs, CattledogX, Aussie/BC's, working line setters) came factory installed loving to play fetch and tug but Sierra has been one where I've had to develop those behaviours. So we're doing at least 1 fetch-the-ball before anything fun/nice. Ball before getting a drink. Ball before going out. Ball before getting a chance to put your lead on. Ball before we train etc.

Tuggy... DH decided to play tuggy with her and despite my asking him to stick to my rules, he just doesn't remember them and untaught a lot. My rules are:
1.) Don't grab even if it's dangled in front of your face enticingly , wait until I tell you to take it in your mouth.
2.) Let go of it the second I say to and wait until I say you can take it again
3.) No re-gripping or it goes bye-bye.

Basically they're there as a safety... I don't want her grabbing something she thinks is a tuggy (child's doll, purse, whatever) and scaring someone or wrecking it. I don't want her so wound up she is out of control. I don't want her re-gripping (letting go and readjusting her bite before biting back down) and accidentally grabbing fingers. She’s been making motions like she's going to grab the tug lately before I say to take it and I highly suspect Nic has been playing with her and getting her to just grab it. Nic knows the rules, he understands, he's just used to the way he used to play tug with his old dog and forgets he’s not supposed to do certain things.

Stupid pet trick: "Sad" where she is in a laying down position and puts a paw over her left eye as if sad. She's not a very paw oriented dog (unlike Cade, who uses his like a cat) so this is our attempt to get her to start spinning off into the umpteen different useful paw-involved tricks.

Sticking her head through a collar when it's held out. Got in another quickie shaping session and she's got it past her ears. Yesterday we shaped it up to her eyes but not past her ears. (So it started by me holding the collar and saying, "do something" which is her cue to start offering behaviours and she has enough 101TTDWAB that she knows to interact with props when presented. Then we went to moving towards the collar, touching it with her nose, nudging it up and down, nibbling on it, whacking it with her paw etc. whittling down the behaviours progressively to sticking her nose through the O a little bit, then more and more of her head through.) Reckon by the end of tonight it'll be over her head and we'll start attaching a cue of "necklace".
Bow (head down, bum up) - fluency
Stretch (in a bow, head down, bum up and streeetch) - fluency

Down - working her to get fluency in high (multiple, high level) distraction situations, on and off-lead, various positions (in front of me, at my side, from behind me, when I've got my back turned, when I'm close, when I'm far away, while I continue walking etc.) and other such things. She is doing a herding thing where she will get a chance to work some woolies and I think have two goes at an instinct test at the end of the day. Suffice it to say, "woah", "down" and "leave it" are trying to be quickly reinforced for very charged situations! LOL Plus I'm going to start the crazy fuzzball in Freestyle classes on the 14th as well, unless I decide to take Cade instead.

I think some Doggy Zen is in order too. She's been snarfing crumbs and stuff out of L's highchair seat once I pick him up. Hnn...

Cade is not loving the cool, damp weather. I suspect his old hip injury is flaring up again poor guy. He's been camped in their crate on the sheepskin and curling up with hot waterbottles. He still wants to play clicker though,

Oh I saw the coolest sig line on one of my lists: "They're not problems, just training opportunities!" I wanna bumper sticker that says that!

Laurent still has his cough thing going on and these really feral poos so I guess something isn't happy in his tummy. Poor mite. He had a second acupressure treatment the other day to try and help it and still has the homeopathic drops which he fights because he hates the taste of. He alternates between being sunshine and bawling and really upset. The weird thing is the bawling will just start and stop like a switch has been flipped but when he's upset he is SO upset and it just kills me there's not much I can do besides cuddle him as comfort. Anyone wants to send some healing energy his way, it'd be much appreciated. Just to show it's not all bad though, here's a few snaps of him playing around today. He's hit the stage where he both wants to be independant (put me down! *wigglewigglewiggle*) and worries about it at the same time (hey, where are you going? Pick me back up, I need a cuddle and some reassurance!) It's adorable if somewhat maddening when he squirms to be put back down not 2 seconds after asking to be picked up. He's also hit the stage where he's starting to get mad if I do something he doesn't very much like, even to the point where if he's fairly steamed he'll push me away or push my hands away. He's pulled himself up into a standing position on the cot (yes we have one, we got it before we actually HAD him and it turns into a bed and then a sofa so we kept it), the cane chair, the basket and the back of the couch at the doctors office. Eeep! He's going to turn into a toddler soon isn't he?

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