Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jimmy runs blinds

Jimmy is a Boxer whose owner came to me because Jimmy needed more obedience and control.  Jimmy is a pet, who lives in a household with several other dogs and he also needs to interact with nieces and nephews.  His exuberance and prey drive were getting him into trouble with the kids.  Jimmy is a young male, so he brings that teen-aged enthusiasm.

Since beginning private lessons, Jimmy has learned many of the things we teach our sport dogs.  It teaches him control while finding an outlet for his energy.  His owner, Jay, also enjoys challenging Jimmy with new things to learn.  Recently we taught Jimmy to run blinds.  Actually we taught him first to go around simple obstacles such as chairs and garbage cans, learning the concept that he can "go around" anything Jay designates.  Jimmy won't be entering any schutzhund trials but this is a simple behavior that can be used to exercise Jimmy mentally and physically without having to purchase fancy or expensive equipment. I'm all about using common (cheap) items for training!

Today being a lovely day to be outside, I set up the schutzhund blinds.  I'm sharing these videos because I have seen people struggle with teaching blinds, and use long lines and prong collars to force dogs around them.  Here is a pet dog with minimal training, who learned in several lessons to run two blinds for a food reward.  

In this next video, Jay is giving direction from the center position, without moving as much to help Jimmy.  You can see that Jimmy gets stuck for a moment at the second blind, and then makes a good decision to go around.  He is then rewarded with his jackpot reward,  a soccer ball.

 I did not show the beginning steps of teaching the exercise, which were taught using food and clicker or verbal markers.  While it may not have the precision or speed of the final product we expect for competition, and I am particular with my own dogs on how they circle the blind, the point is to demonstrate that it is a fun exercise that can be easily taught to any dog who will work for reward, whether food or toy. Jimmy can do it--- how about YOU?