Storms, Ball Pushing and Training Schedules | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Storms, Ball Pushing and Training Schedules

With the storm threatening to hail and rain and tornado us at any moment, our training was confined to the indoors, and of course, I had to deal with a wet Wally when we had to go out for him to do his business. Let me tell you, it's great he doesn't really care about storms (even when he was really fearful, storms were NOT one of things that would set him off), but sometimes it can be something of a curse to have a dog that will happily sniff all day between vigorous shakes.

Wet Wally equals tons of energy, zoomies (and flying water) galore, and a dog staring at me like he's trying to tell me "hey, I'm all wound up, what do I do about it?".

So we decided to revisit something else I've gotten away from: pushing the soccer ball. We had started this before with the big blue exercise ball, and have since moved to his soccer ball since it's less tempting for him to use his paws as I want him to use his nose only. It's also easier for me to make sure he keep his paws off, as well as not trying to pick the ball up.

As usual, I started with some warming up, trying to see how much he remembers. No problem here as Wally went right up to the ball and poked it with his nose. Great, that's what we want. However, the bounding energy quickly reared it's head and Wally immediately picked the ball up and "threw" it. Oh boy, this is going to get interesting. Looks like I was too slow getting things going, so he took it to be like a "oh I can do whatever with the ball!" game.

I picked the ball up and waited for him to settle down. He sat down in rapid speed (he does everything three times as fast when wet) and then I put the ball down. He poked it again, and I quickly marked and rewarded the nose touch. This got him to push the ball again quickly, and again - each time barely giving me time to get my hand back in my pocket for another treat.

This, of course, gets him even more roused up. I added the cue we put on before, "push", and he poked the ball. I kept doing it, trying to keep up with how fast he was going, then held out. This really got on his nerves and he kinda "gruffed" at me and started rapid fire poking the ball! This was actually closer to what I want him to work on, keep pushing the ball when I say "push" until I gave another direction.

We did start getting that kind of thing going, getting two or three pushes, but the next thing I really need to do is truly emphasizing "pushing" instead of "poking". I think that's where I'm letting things down. Of course, this gives me another excuse to find a Spanish word! Yay...er...right, he'll learn it faster like with every other time I did this.

It was also time to try to put some kind of point to this, such as pushing the ball to a certain place. I had him push the ball down the hallway, giving him the mark and reward only when the goal was reached (but encouraging him along the way to keep him going and not thinking he was doing it wrong), and then did it once more before calling it done for this session.

 Also on the list for things I need to do is come up with a training schedule of sorts. This will probably help me keep things from falling by the wayside for too long and risk being forgotten or getting rusty. On the other hand, what if there's lots of things going that you want to work on? Should a day be devoted to a task? Should "review" tasks be crammed in one day? Anyone have any kind of schedules you use to organize the things you're teaching your dogs?