Thursday, August 31, 2006

Energy!

Yesterday I was driving home from a private lesson, just trashed. Tired. Fighting a cold. I really, really wanted a nap. But when I pulled in, I saw Laev in her kennel, bored out of her mind because I'd been gone.

Guilt.

So I pushed back the nap and took Laev and a toy out to the agility field. We tugged, she ran, we played with a tunnel and a jump. I went back to the teeter she hasn't seen in a few months and re-taught it, using only a tug toy as reinforcer (no click, just a verbal marker, and no food). We played some more.

I never got my nap before my next class, but she shared some of her energy with me and I did okay. :-)

Tonight's dinner was funny. I was prepping the dogs' buckets and asked them to lie down. Two complied, but for some reason Laev didn't want to lie down in the kitchen, but kept circling around the island. I asked nicely twice; no response. So I fed the older dogs right there in the kitchen. (Inky made a mess of the floor, but that's a small price to pay for training.)

Laev panicked. "They're eating without me! Where's my food?" She rushed into the kitchen, looked at the other dogs, circled, and finally looked at me. I cued a down. She did, staring worriedly at the disappearing food, and then back at me. I rewarded by cuing, "Kennel!" and she ran to get in her crate for dinner.

Silly dog will down more quickly next time. :-)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Squirrel. Jeep. Bad.

So I walked out this morning and noticed something hanging from beneath the front end of my car....

It wouldn't need a Prince Humperdinck to track what had happened. Apparently a squirrel or similar prey had tried to take refuge within the underbelly of my Jeep. Laev (or theoretically one of the other dogs, on their turns out in the yard, but I strongly suspect Laev) had attempted to remove it by ripping out the mud shield from beneath the Jeep. At least two pieces had been shredded completely off, and the main shield was half-removed from the car.

In addition, the entire hood and the lower windshield was liberally smeared with pawprints and scrapes, where a dog had checked for an entrance from above.

I crawled under the car and replaced the remaining mud shield, and I suspect the paw prints will wash off easily, and I'm hoping there aren't any really serious scratches in the paint. If there are, well, I already own a bit of touch-up paint. I didn't see any squirrel bits, so apparently it went out the other side. Sheesh!

Friday, August 25, 2006

update

Well, I've been slacking in posting for a while, but we're still working!

Laev was getting over the top on her blind searches and getting dirty in the blind, so we've dropped back to clean hold and barks, increasing distance again so that we'll be able to combine that with the searches. Right now the protocol is that when she cheats or attempts to cheat, I remove her from the blind (she's on a long line) and start completely over again. No "corrections" which then allow her to continue toward the end reinforcement; all that does is teach her to take a few collar hits and go on without thinking.

She's also getting a bit better at calm holds and cleaner (but far from perfect) outs on the field. She's much better at holding nicely after a good hard fight than a quick slip of the sleeve, so we're making sure to make her work to win it!

In other news, she's having a hard time with the moving sit. Moving down? No sweat! She's great at that. But the moving sit is really tough; we keep getting either a stand or a down. I need to find a way to break that down into a smaller learning piece, but it's not working yet.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hand to Forehead -- With Vigor

Well, today was another Schutzhund workshop day, and we were out at the training field for about 8 hours. (The club is meeting again tonight, but I have a birthday celebration to attend.) Laev is getting dirty in the blind, and attempts to fix it today were not totally successful; she has a very strong opposition reflex and collar pressure sends her forward, so collar pops produced a messy solution at best.

And then on the way home, I had the classic forehead-slap moment.

Laev's entire training has been based on, "get it right and be marked/reinforced for correct behavior; get it wrong and try again." The very fact that she was allowed to continue the behavior (the hold and bark) after the dirty attempts indicated to her that she was correct -- and indeed, the bite at the end of the hold and bark reinforced the entire CHAIN of dirty snap and then clean hold and bark.

I'm so stupid. This is what comes of trying to make decisions on the fly rather than planning in advance. I of course can't see from across the field that she's being dirty in the blind, so when others did and offered to take the line to keep her clean, I went with it. I didn't take time to think through a training plan.

I do need to teach her that she can work forward while wearing the prong; that confused her during the blind search today. But I'll also be trying to interrupt and restart dirty holds, and we'll see how that goes. I'll bet it's a significant improvement.