I was inspired after my weekend of training in Minnesota, though I did take yesterday off for physical therapy and recovery! Plus, I am coming down with a cold. ick. So, with those excuses behind me, I headed up to my training building to get to work this afternoon.
First, I worked with Cooper. He was so excited to go to work! Since we've had quite a lay-off since my surgery, I was cautious not to over-work him and to keep it dynamic and brief, leaving him wanting more. We worked on his heeling and head position, ala Knut Fuchs, between the legs and then moving into spins, into the front position... positions....I even had him climb on up an end table and practice his positions! He is such a good boy. I often call him a good LITTLE boy, but he is not that any longer.
Next came Ridley. Poor Ridley has not had much work in her formative months so far. It is evident that I need to feed her by hand and make her a little more hungry. She loves the food and actually does work well for it, but would then tear off, making her own play with the long line. If she has a toy in her mouth she prefers to possess it rather than driving back in to me, so that is another thing to work on. I started feeding her in the position between my legs and working on head position and she did pretty well at that. Spins are good but she falls out of my hand and wants to dart in instead of maintaining hand contact. We worked a little bit on the object guard, as well. For her, that means simply teaching her to be on the object. She does not currently have sustained attention to problem solve in that manner. She has an awesome search, but the guard wasn't clear to her and she doesn't know how to experiment yet so far as figuring out what I am asking, and would romp away with her line in her mouth instead. We ended with tug play, where I would make play chase with the tug toy and then work the grip. She holds it calmly and will adjust and fill her mouth if she isn't holding it properly and I ask her to "packen". She doesn't yet want to bring it back to me to play, but that will come. All in all, though, she had fun being with me which is good.
Last on the afternoon agenda was the Quinnster. He is just sooo enthusiastic to come out and work at any time, and his favorite thing is to race away, then turn and fly back at him and pummel me with both his front feet. And then do it again! I made sure to tell him what a good boy he was and keep things very positive as he practiced his skills. I put him on the same end table as I had done with Cooper, and practiced his positions. We practiced the whistle back. I would leave him on a sit or down and then move to different positions and whistle, at which time he would be released for a bite on the bite pillow. It isn't the same thing as whistling him off another grip, but since he had never even heard a whistle prior to this weekend I wanted to take a step backwards and make it a positive event. If he knows what is being asked of him, it will be less likely to have to use force to create the behavior. He likes to punch through between the legs and I wanted to practice him him go through and turn back into the transport position, but I wasn't able to do it properly by myself. What he picked up easily was the "contact" exercise, where he has to make contact with my leg as I move. This will come in handy in the protection exercises. I used a ball reward on that and he was moving and pressing himself against my leg without force, after I guided him there a couple times and rewarded him. It does make me wonder why decoys such as Dennis that we worked with this weekend, would use force to teach everything. As I wrote in an earlier post, the way he did some things would not have been my preference to introduce it but Quinn was so amped by the biting that it didn't diminish him. Still, I wanted to go back this week and reinforce things positively. Quinn is an enthusiastic learner so it isn't difficult to teach the behaviors. He loves food or toy and so I have many tools to reward him. I did a couple send aways, at an angle and also practiced having him hold and retrieve an empty soda bottle to work on his "munching". Since I can hear it when he crunches, I can mark it.
The afternoon's work left me very happy with my furry kidlets. They all did well and it was so much fun to get back to the business of training. What I have to do yet is to list the behaviors I need to teach so I can measure my progress. I am so looking forward to this season!
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