Weekend training update.

We took the pups to PBH yesterday to work on some training.  I’ve been admittedly slack lately with the shorter days and colder weather, so I felt it was due time to put in some more effort for their sakes. 

It’s been two years and Miles still won’t go on a teeter in public.  Well, that’s not true….I got him to the point of using a very quiet teeter during class until it broke.  With him on it.  Sigh.  It’s been an uphill battle to say the least.  Not only did we get off to a rocky start with this obstacle, but Miles has some underlying sound sensitivity as well.  Not to mention that I never started him out on a buja or tippy board.  Anyway, it is my goal to get this dog confident and comfortable enough that he’ll be able to perform the teeter away from home as well as he does at home before the end of the year.  So that was the first thing we practiced yesterday.

Here is Miles tentatively doing the bang game at first.  This was how I started retraining him at home.  He’s using the least scary teeter at the club (aside from the one that broke which is still broken).  I am not giving him any commands, but am shaping him to play with the end of the teeter and eventually to jump on and bang it down.  I realized after I started that I should have made it easier to begin with so I lowered it.  As soon as I did that his confidence blossomed.

Here he is just a short time after starting.  I’ve raised the drop of the teeter and he’s running and jumping on the end of it.  I will gradually lower the propped up end until he’s jumping on it with it parallel to the ground.  Then I will add a table to prop it up and start him from the table, then gradually lower the table until he’s running the full length.  Then I’ll do it over again with the scarier and louder teeter.

Lastly, I played a different game with the scary loud teeter working on him enjoying movement that is not in his control.  The first game teaches him to enjoy movement that he controls.  Again, nothing is forced, but he is rewarded for offering to get on the down end of the teeter and to stay on while I move it under his feet.  He only gets a cookie if he stays on the board, but he’s allowed to jump off if he feels uncomfortable.  I adjust how high I move it and I also “force” him off the end when I want to.  This does two things: it relieves the pressure by me making him get off, and builds his drive to start the game again for more cookies.  Here’s how it looks:

Next up, and along those same lines, I took Miss Rue into the arena to work on the buja board.  We have one at home that she’s been playing on for months.  This was our first time using a different board and “taking it on the road”.  As I did with Miles, the first session was low pressure and we started out from the beginning like we did at home (barely any tip).  I’m just shaping her to get on with all four feet.  Here’s the first session:

Quickly the game became this:

And finally this:

Notice in the last video I’m using a tug toy for reward.  I will tug with her for as long as she stays on the board.  As soon as her feet come off, the game ends.  Soon the dog realizes that they have to get on the board to start the game and they fight to stay on it as long as they can.  This teaches a dog to LOVE movement!

Next up, weave poles.  I’ve been working on weave poles for about the same duration as the teeter.  They are probably the most difficult to teach of all the obstacles.  I was first taught to lure him through a set of six straight poles.  This worked, but it did not teach any obstacle independence.  I had to be right next to the poles for him to commit to taking them.  Plus I had a hard time if the entry wasn’t straight ahead or if he wasn’t on my left.  Not exactly effective for higher levels of competition.  It was then suggested that I retrain using channel weaves with a target at the end.  Again it worked, but I still wasn’t getting very far.  So I tried Susan Garrett’s 2X2 Weave Pole method, which had an amazing effect on Miles’ understanding.  It uses shaping to teach the dog how to find the correct entry on a 2-pole set.  Eventually it builds to a series of 2-pole entries and gradually to a full set of 12 straight poles.  That was groundbreaking for us and then I found this system by Joe Canova.  I haven’t looked back since.  We’re now to the level of proofing the weaves against things like distance and distraction.  Here are some clips:

A warm up.

Adding distance and a layer jump at the end.

A warm up sequence.

Sequence with a rear cross before the poles and a layer jump.  He pops out at pole 10 in the video, but he got it right the next time through.

Finally Miss Rue got to work on flat work and handling with cones.  I did some restrained recalls with Doug holding her to warm her up and then some stays with recalls.  With the cone work, I started by shaping her to go around a cone in both directions.  Once she was offering that behavior I started adding the cue of my hand closest to her extend towards the cone to indicate clockwise or counterclockwise turning.  Then I worked on getting some more distance from the cone and finally sequencing to multiple cones.  Yesterday we worked with 3 cones and integrated front-crosses, sends, shoulder pulls, and I tried a rear-cross or two.  She did awesome!  In retrospect, I think I pushed her a little too far and should have stopped earlier than I did because I started to lose speed towards the end.  I always need to remember that she’s a tiny puppy with a short attention span 🙂

Cone work: