Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition: February 2011

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hodgepodge of Training

Wally's had to endure a wide variety of training recently. The most interesting is the introduction of Treibball, a dog sport I was recently made aware of. We're just getting the foundation going of course, and the first thing was getting him to push the ball (not paw it, which he loves to do: paw things). That was an exercise in and of itself, but he did grasp it. He seems eager to touch the ball and I've caught him pushing the ball on his own.

Beyond that, there was just a lot of other training going on. We reviewed the directions again, mentioning them as we turned on walks and calling them out and having him turn with me.

Then there was reviewing backing up (walking backwards) to help his rear-end awareness. To put a twist on it, I did this as well with him standing on just his back paws. That, of course, will make him use just those back paws to understand the movement and the new twist added one more thing for him to think about. Also went back to pivot training. He put his front paws on a book and he had to turn using just his back legs to maneuver. This was a challenge for him and it's been a while since we did this, so it was a bit of starting from the beginning again.

And of course the standard basics are always in effect. While probably no challenge, it's still using that brain of his.

He slept pretty deeply tonight and for most of the week. Did a lot of dreaming, so at the very least, it burned off a lot of his energy! :D

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Heel, Turn, Focus. Heel, Turn, Focus...

Tonight, it was working on heeling and turning as that's something he's struggled with lately (and in general). It's also a way to get the directions in during practical usage.

I'd call out the turn and then do it while having him walking at a normal pace in heel position. This seemed to go pretty well and he was enjoying it, but I noticed he turns left much worse than right.

Noted. So now that's one thing we can work on more.

The heeling itself went pretty well. No cue for it (don't really have a heel cue - just want it to be his default walking behavior) but just clicking and treating in position. I tried to click him with some frequency to keep him engaged and reinforced for the position. A couple times he messed up because he got so freaking excited and happy that he started walking too fast! So I just stopped and when he came back to position, we started up again and got a click and treat soon after if he stayed in position.

His excitement is a lot of his problem with heeling, but he loves training so much (and especially getting those bread balls!)

The turns weren't bad, aside from the aforementioned left turning troubles. I think that will come around with work.

The last thing we worked on is something else that's a problem for him - keeping focus/eye contact. He so nosy...er...I mean observant and curious that he just wants to look at what's going on around him. This is probably something I will want to devote a whole walk to, or perhaps no walk, just let him do his business and then just focus, focus, focus. One time, he did it really well, didn't even take eyes off of me. He got very rapid clicks and treats for that!

It's getting there. I just have to make myself work him more on it in the midst of the other things we are working on.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Carrying: Making Progress

Wally's getting a better idea of carrying objects and getting more willing/able to take an object in his mouth. Some objects are still too difficult for him, perhaps they are too big or too awkward for his mouth to physically hold after all. His rope bone is no problem for him. That's what we worked with tonight and he took it and carried with no problem.

He even stepped on something that surprised him and made him drop the bone, but he went back on his own to pick it up and bring it back. He's really getting it now if he's doing that - the idea that the object must be in his mouth.

Going to have to keep building it up. It might not be a natural thing for him. He's not a retriever after all, so for him it's an actual exercise in learning instead of using a more instinctive type drive/desire/mouthiness.

One thing that's still needing work is the idea that he has to hold it until I signal for him to give or drop the item. Sometimes he will run around (which is fine since we're just playing) and just drop it without getting it in my hand, or he'll come back and just drop it. I have to make myself not pick it up and make him put it in my hand. Make that a rule of the game. I started doing it myself and holding my hands down as he's coming back to try to give him a "basket" of sorts to put it in (it'll be our hand signal as well). When he gets close, I cue "give" to help him make the connection with the hands.