Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Focus on Training

Today I took time to do training with all four dogs.

As always, Speedy was first.  I got the platform out to do some platform work with Tessa (more on that below), so I let Speedy play with it a bit.  He LOVES to play with the platform.

After we did stationary position refreshers on the platform, I put him in front with the platform in heel to see if he could find heel on the platform.  That was amusing.  He got into position with his front paws, but didn't quite know what to do with his back paws!!  He wiggled around and tried to find where I was waiting for him to be.  He finally did put one back paw up on the platform, so he got a click/treat for that.  Then I helped him (with a treat) get his other back paw up.

After that, we did some moving position exercises.  I had a cone in the Fireplace Room and a chair in the Dining Room.  We did outside heel around the cone, through the kitchen, around the chair, back through the kitchen, switch to outside right side, around the cone, through the kitchen, around the chair, through the kitchen, and then the whole pattern again inside heel, and inside right side.  He did really well with it.  I focused on clicking when he was driving strongly in the correct position.  He still LOVES this work!

Then we did a trick.  I rolled treats in a mat, so he could work on pushing it to unroll it.

Finally, we went through a sequence that I hope to use in an improv routine.

Next it was Dean's turn.  He did the platform work, too.  He was funny about it.  I had to click fast or he started to offer paws off the platform!!  But he got it.

Then we did the heel work that Speedy had done.  He did well with that.  He also got lots of clicks and treats for driving strongly in the correct position.

For his trick work, I introduced putting toys in a basket.  I am hoping to train him to open the basket, put toys in, and close the basket.  For today I had him pick up a ball, and put it into the basket, which I was holding, and then go get the other one and do the same.  It was a challenge, but he seemed to enjoy it.

We also did a bit of distance work.

After Dean, it was Tessa's turn.

I got the platform out for her because I want to try using the platform to teach her clearer position.  Last year when I did platform work with her, I could not do the exercise where she stood on the platform and I moved from heel to side to front because my movement toward her spooked her.  Now she is really ready, and she did well with the exercise.  Last year she was suspicious and ready to bail off the platform if I moved into her space.  This year she had bright eyes, a waggling tail, and she seemed very amused by the whole proceeding.

After we had done that, I did the same exercise with her that I had done with Speedy and Dean, but Tessa is working with a food lure because she is just starting to learn to drive strongly in position.  I'm not sure if this approach is going to get me the results that I want, but I'm willing to give it a shot.  It certainly won't hurt.

For her trick work, we worked on backing.  This will also serve us in Freestyle.  She is starting to get the hang of it when I move with her, but I want her to learn to back away from me independently.  So, I set up two chairs and lured her in between them in front of me.  Then I gave her "back" cue (which she seems to understand), and she did take two steps back!  I clicked and tossed a treat behind her.  We did this about 5 times, and each time she took a step or two back.

After we stopped that, I put a hula hoop on the floor and clicked and tossed treats when she put her paws into the middle of it.  The sound of the beans inside the hoop still bothers the heck out of her, and I remedied that after the training sessions were over!

Sammie was last.  I played the hoop game with him, too, and I had him unroll the mat for treats, as Speedy had.  Sammie loves these trick training sessions!  He may not become fluent in any of them, but he loves the games we play to teach them!

After I was finished, I decided to drill a hole in my two hula hoops to take the beans out.  Yes, I could desensitize Tessa to the sound, but it's not something I want to make an issue of, so out the beans went.  There was a heck of a lot more of the stuff inside each hoop than I expected!  It took a while to get most of it out.  After I did that, I let Speedy hop through them!  He gets a kick out of that.

I'm hoping to follow up on this session at least two more times this week.  It's time to get more focused about training!!

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