Today was a very good training day.
After tracking, we went for club bitework practice. Laev did two sessions today, and the first was some of the most fun ever. Our helper wanted to do some "stress work," which is presenting the dog with new and unusual distractions, obstacles, etc. and let the dog work through them. I asked for a few seconds to let Laev know that she was allowed to climb onto the two tables we'd use, and then the helper put on the sleeve and the game was on.
Laev was sent to perform a hold and bark with the helper on an oversized pause table. (She has to jump up there with him.) She was sent over a jump to him. She was sent over a jump and onto a table. She was sent over a jump, onto a table, and to hold while he inched around the table, making her rotate, with him both on the table and on the ground. She was sent through an agility tunnel. She was sent to the helper behind a metal folding chair, where we required her to balance herself carefully on the chair seat as she held herself for the bad guy. The chair tipped unless she hit it just right, so I braced my knee against it from the side and sent her to it, where she then had to deal with the chair and my proximity to the helper.
It was phenomenal fun, watching her work through the situations and figure out how to fit on a crowded table or on the small, slippery chair. And here's the best part -- in all the situations we threw at her, NOT ONCE did Laev get dirty. She performed a clean hold and bark each and every time. Awesome! So very proud of her....
While it was very tempting to do that again for our second session, I knew we really needed to work on obedience for the bite, so we did some of that.
- I take Laev's 2" padded leather collar
- I ask for eye contact on *me*, not the helper
- I reward by telling Laev to alert on the helper, who moves and agitates
- I lift Laev by the leather collar and call, "Sit!" as I drop her
- Laev lands, bounces, struggles, gets into a sit instead of charging for the helper (I have a leash on in case she doesn't make it)
- my assistant clicks for a complete, honest sit (I have trouble seeing if she's sitting or crouching from my angle) and Laev is rewarded by being sent to the helper
We started with a latency of four seconds from my cue to land in a sit, and she was taking the slack from the leash a lot before she hit the sit. By the end of the session (10 min?), she was sitting in under two seconds without hitting the end of the leash. I think it's finally coming together! And only once did she not sit within the four seconds, requiring a reset. We'll train again on Monday, where I expect she'll be sitting very quickly.
Then we'll make it harder, varying the cues given and making her concentrate harder while in hyperdrive. Fortunately, Laev likes a challenge. ;-)