Friday, March 11, 2011

Short and Sweet

Last night after classes were over, I was goofing around with Ribbon and I was practicing some handling while tossing a toy for her.  The cool thing was that she left the toy and came to heel with me.  We did a few turns and some halts.  Then I broke it off and played with her.  I was also impressed with the fact that she stayed to  interacted with me, even though she could have left and played with the toy, but she thought it was more fun to play with me!! How cool is that?!?!?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Getting somewhere

For the past two weeks I put myself on a self-imposed front and finish 14 day push with Ribbon. I did fronts and finishes every day, for a few minutes. Sometimes I did them in my living room, the training hall, and the kitchen and once I even did them in my closet. I went in there to get changed and Ribbon followed me in with a toy in her mouth wanting to play so I took advantage of the situation and had her do some finishes with her toy tucked under my left arm. When she completed the finish correctly I dropped the toy to her and then played with her. It was fun. The improvement is immense. Her finishes are much more polished and animated. I figured out my right finish signal. I hadn't been happy with her response to my usual signal, but now she is jumping up out of her front position and makes her way quickly to heel position. She has also greatly improved her precision work. She is remembering to tidy up her front feet and line up her body in a straight line. The best part is that her eyes are very bright and she is feeling very proud of herself.

For fronts I played this game with her where she was sent to lay on one of couches and called to front going between two small ottomans to front position. I found the ottomans were most effective if the one on my left leg was further away from me that the one on my right leg. Since Ribbon often sits with her rear end tipped to my left the ottoman on that side prevented that mistake. After a few days I set up further away from both ottomans so that she had to take more responsibility for organizing her body in front position. She certainly made some mistakes, but she was also thinking about it. I kept up her motivation with a high value reward and made a game of sending her onto the couch to lie down or sit before calling her to front. Also I could set up off angle recalls so that she had to work even harder to front proper front position. She is doing quite well. When I was working her in the training hall this weekend she gave me a whole bunch of perfect fronts. I was even more impressed because she was this accurate from about 50 feet away in a full canter.

In my current session of classes, my friend Susie Bell offered to teach one of Novice classes so that I could train Ribbon in a class with distractions. It is a big class, 10 dogs and lots going on. This is exciting for me because this is something we have been lacking in our training. So thank-you Susie! This means that even if I get really busy I get to train Monday night in Rally class and then Tuesday in the Novice class.

Happy Training!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gali north, east and west

This weekend I did a whole mix of things. I cleaned the house, did the laundry, took Aydon clothes shopping (always interesting), went to a Guelph Storm hockey game (also with Aydon), puppy tested Susie Bell's 6 week old lab puppies, watched the leaf game (sigh), finished my bookkeeping for last year (I am now ready to file!!!), started bookkeeping for this year, all four of us went out for a really nice dinner (I even had dessert) and ....I trained my dogs three days in a row ( happy dance!!).

I have been obsessing over Gali's go out problems, so I spent some time figuring out my plan of attack. I looked through my book and lo and behold I found something that I had forgotten all about. When Megan was having problems going out over the jumps instead of between them, I set up a chute of broad jump board from the inside standard of each jump gradually narrowing to the location where she was to touch the barrier and sit (or just sit depending on what I asked her to do). It worked really well because it was difficult for her to make a mistake and this was always the best way to teach her anything because she simply hated to be wrong. I decided to give this a try. I set up two lines of broad jump boards on their ends about 2 feet apart gradually getting wider and wider apart. I spend two sessions just sending Gali through the chute to the wall. I kept him away from the visible metal supports that are every 16 feet in my training building. Then I added the jumps and organized the chutes so that the inside standards of both the jumps became the entrance to the chute. He did really, really well. Rewards were high (meatballs), chase and tug o war sessions. I randomly asked Gali to touch, then sit or sit without touching or sit/touch/sit. It all went very well. The third time I attempted this drill I changed the direction of the go-out, going west instead of north (which is our normal direction). After one set of work I added the directed jumping back into the picture. Gali had to make some adjustments to find a path between the broad jump boards to find a way to the high jump. The first time I asked him to do the bar jump he hopped over one of the boards and then cut in without jumping the bar. I was so happy that this mistake FINALLY happened in training. I said,"HEY" ,which is my catch-all phrase that means "Not what I wanted." I took him back to the bar jump, signalled and asked him to jump it again which he did. I repeated the whole skill again and he did it perfectly. Today I changed it again, the go out direction was east this time and to a line of baby gates. I even paired moving stand before the set up for go-outs to help him recognize that sequence. He was flawless, once he stepped off his line, I think he was going to jump but quickly switched back and continued on his merry way. So good for him for thinking his way through it!! Such a smart boy!!!

The next steps are to change the direction again, reduce the visibility of the chute boards and take it on the road, good thing spring is almost here.

Tomorrow tales of training Ribbon