Archive for Training

Ah, the joys of shaping

I’ve been doing a lot of foundation type work with Chipotle lately. One of the big things I’ve been targeting is his complete and total lack of rear end awareness. Chip didn’t seem to have the slightest clue that his back legs were there, so we’ve been doing a lot of work stepping into baskets, circling with front paws on a book, ball work and just all sorts of random exercises.

Last night while I was at work my husband was hanging around in the office. The laundry basket must have been in there from one of our earlier sessions. Apparently at one point he became aware that Chip was standing in the basket staring at him. He looked over at Chip who proceeded to begin ‘helicoptering’, the term we use for wagging his tail so fast and hard that it is just going in crazy circles. I guess he was just so proud of himself that he had to show daddy.

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Training, training, training!

Ok, really it’s more like work a lot, sleep a little, train whenever I can squeeze it in, repeat…..but you get the point. I’ve been taking time off of trialing this winter to go back to the basics. I’ve been working through the Foundation Fundamentals dvd by Mary Ellen Barry (love it!) with Chipotle and have recently started going through Develping Jumping Skills with him as well.

My sweet boy is loving agility training and I am having a blast just working through some very basic stuff with him. It is so much fun watching baby dogs learn. I almost cried the other day over a simple sit-stay outdoors with distractions that was just so brilliant on his part. It’s just like something clicked in his head and he suddenly understood exactly what I was asking for. Very cool to watch…

Bella has been getting a total break from ‘real’ agility stuff and I’ve been doing some foundation fundamentals and DJS work with her too. Pretty soon I’m going to start training her dogwalk again and working on some things from Linda M’s new book. She will be moving down to performance in USDAA and I think only jumping at 12″ for awhile will make a big difference in her confidence level. (based on what I saw when we only competed in AKC for a few months)

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::sigh:: Retraining a running dogwalk to a 2o2o

I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I need to bite the bullet and retrain Bella’s dogwalk.  The running dogwalk just isn’t working for us for a number of reasons:

~She doesn’t always hit her contacts.  (obviously a pretty important reason)  It wasn’t so much a problem in AKC (because let’s face it, the contact zone is huge), but I find myself preferring USDAA more and more which happens to have a much smaller dogwalk contact. 

~The running contact behavior is a pain in the butt as far as achieving tight turns off the dogwalk….and if there’s a 180 turn to a tunnel under the dogwalk?  Forget about it.  We lose so much time in situations like this.

~It’s not turning out to be a super-fast behavior for Bella.  While I am concerned about retraining leading to tenative contacts, at this point I’m thinking a good 2o2o might actually be faster. 

The key will be training in a way that doesn’t slow her down too much or cause her to worry.  What I’ve found with Bella though is she is amazingly resilient with regards to my faults as a handler.  She doesn’t get ‘worried’ easily about agility behaviors (which is pretty much why we survived as a team through my training as a very novice handler) and she isn’t afraid to try something new/make a mistake.  A lot of this is due to our foundation of clicker training and shaping behaviors, but there is also something inherent in Bella that gives her the confidence to work through agility problems.   I really couldn’t have asked for a better first agility dog. 

I’m going to start some nose-touch target work away from agility equipment and then maybe start actual plank work after the showcase.  Cross your fingers for us please.  This could be very good or very………no, very good is the only option I’m allowing!

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Offered behaviors never cease to surprise me

Since agility was cancelled yet again due to the snow, I decided to do a little perch work with Bella in the spare room.  After one of our mini sessions I turned around to find this:

Apparently she thinks clinging to a tiny perch in a down position with her rump hanging off the back end deserves a treat. (yes, I did cave in and give her one!)

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