Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tonight was fun :-) and Turn The Lights Out

Schutzhund training tonight was fun. :-) No dirty bites! and no attempts, even. She'd tried that one more time, last Saturday, and apparently realized that it just wasn't going to pay off and wasn't worth the time.

Tonight, though, she was on fire! I don't know the reason, but she was just several notches higher tonight; all day, really. So our first repetition of usual revier-bite-slip the sleeve-sit-hold was more of a revier-bite-slip the sleeve- No! I don't wanna sit, I wanna play! I caught this! It's mine! I can take him again, yes I can, watch me! And it devolved into a minor wrestling match in which my usual cradling became more of a restraint. And then all was good, and she played by the rules, even if she was a lot more vocal about having to do it my way. :-)

And there are moments of intelligence and focus appearing occasionally. Before bitework, we'd run in to do a little play together (playing together segues nicely into obedience work). There was a cat crated in one corner of the barn, yowling, and Laev was tempted by it at first, but then she focused on me and the exciting toy and ignored the cat. Huzzah! And when she won the toy and looked toward the cat again, I simply prompted her verbally and she brought the toy back for another game. Huzzah!

That was nearly as pleasing as this afternoon, when I let the foster dog outside for an emergency potty break (quick! before she pees!) and Laev, already outside, came barreling toward us. I was sure they'd start playbowing to one another and sniffing, but Laev romped right past the foster to me. "Hi, Mom!" Then she seemed to recall that she'd passsed a dog and turned to sniff noses. I called her name, and she left immediately and came inside with me.

I've never kept her from other dogs, as some suggested, but I've just tried to limit her time and make our own time more rewarding. We're a long way from the finish line, but it's not a total loss yet.

Back to tonight's practice. So then it was time for Laev's second round of bitework. She did a nice revier into the blind (something we just started Saturday, and she's doing well at it) and then I cradled her while she grumbled about having to pause. She spat the sleeve during a small tantrum (she absolutely cannot hear the helper tell me to have her "out") and I had just carefully removed that sleeve in preparation for another repetition when suddenly the barn went black. Electrical failure! And since it was 10:30 or so, it was pretty dark.

"At least we're stuck in here with a nice, safe dog," Carol said.

"Randy, we can't see where you are," I quipped. "Would you crack your whip for us?"

"I'll happily do that if you give her the bite," Randy answered.

Curtis went outside for a flashlight in his car, and he then lit the way for Laev and me to exit. Laev was quite put out that we quit after only one bite, but that just means that much more energy for next time. Um, and she was already revved tonight. Whee!

About that audible "out" -- Laev has a wonderfully reliable out while playing with me, but of course it's not the same on a live sleeve. That's when instinct and desire ("I want it!") run smack into training and reason ("If I let go, I can get it again"). She's conflicted when I cue the out myself, but she's a smart pupper and hears every word around her. If the helper uses the word "out," in any phrasing, the conflict erupts into tantrum status and she begins thrashing the sleeve and screaming. This is a bad habit for training and for my knees. ;-)

The first time it happened, he simply said, "Go ahead and out her," in the same tone and cadence as we'd been discussing her bite and her sit and everything else, and she exploded in a screaming, thrashing fit.

"I think she heard you," I said.

He just sighed and shook his head. "Dobermans...."


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to comment Laura, lest you think no one reads your blog. I check it every day or so and really enjoy your posts! Keep it up! All the Best,
Nancy sagemaya@aol.com

Laura said...

Thank you! It is nice to know that people see it, though I occasionally get emails from people who don't use the comment form. It's always fun to hear from people.

And if even I didn't have an audience, the blog helps to keep me on tast. I get to feel a little guilt when I haven't posted lately, prompting me to get busy so I have something to write about, and I have to pay attention and analyze so I can post something coherent.

It's fun! what can I say. I only hope that no one thinks this is remotely instructional. ;-)