Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pre-Class Update (Now we're live)

Well, Jonah has been doing great and we’re ready to go back to class.
Our homework for this week was:  1. Heeling;  2. Stretching;  3. Charging the clicker;  4. Spins;  5. Stays;  6. Weave between legs;  7. Targeting;  8. Shaping with a board

I’ve been doing the heeling work off leash and he’s been very good.  Sometimes he will not check in with me for a few seconds, and when we run sometimes he gets a step ahead of me, but overall he’s obedient on both sides of me as I walk, jog, run, speed up, slow down and change direction.

The stretching is probably what we’re weakest at.  Dave’s comment after last week’s class was, “Why should a dog do static stretching if humans shouldn’t?”  Good point, probably, but it’s also probably best to get to the point where we can breeze through it in class so it doesn’t take up much time and we can get on to fun stuff.  Anyway, he can do all the stretches but he’s not super sharp at them.

As for charging the clicker, stays and targeting, we’re really just keeping up with what we’ve been doing.  Not much new, except sometimes instead of calling him out of a stay with a come we walk back to him and reward him.  With the target, we now put the cookie on the target rather than feeding on the ground or out of our hands.

Spins and leg-weaving are funny, because he was too scared to do them at class last week but as soon as we got home that night he was good at them.  Now he’s quicker and sharper with them, and will weave pretty continuously as long as cookies are nearby.

Finally, the shaping the board is good.  He actually is better when it’s elevated as then it makes sense to him to get up on it.  He’s good enough for this week’s homework, but here’s what we’ve been trying on top of that:

So I know that they usually combine the targeting with the contact obstacles, but when I tried to put the target just off the board he would always jump off the board and turn around for the target.  My book says use a partner to avoid this, but I haven’t had a partner for lots of our sessions, so I’ve taken a different twist.  It seems to me that the target is not exactly what the goal is (having two feet on the board and two feet off), so I’ve been trying to teach that separately.  I just ask him to wait on the board and then tell him to “step step” off of it with just his front two feet.  I stand in front of him to keep him from just running off.  It seems to work pretty well.  He definitely seems to understand that he gets clicked-and-treated when two feet are on and two feet are off.  We will see how that helps/hinders contact training down the road, but so far it seems hopeful to me.

So, as we get ready for class, I am once again very excited.  I actually feel like I’ve run out of homework and am ready for something new.  We’re going to try to get there early and try to play with Jonah in the room a little so he sees it’s not so scary.  That’s the big wild card:  will he be so scared he shuts down again?  If so, who knows what to expect.  If not, I think he will be super.  We’ll let you know how it goes!

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