9 Weeks 1 Day- Shaping to Dog Bed

Sep 10, 2004 | Stitch's Story

I sit down on the indoor couch with her breakfast. The plan is to start some serious shaping – aiming at getting her to go 10′ from the couch to the dog bed in the corner, and eventually get on it. As I recall this took Scuba about 3 sessions. Start with a leaping/yapping tantrum as she tries again to get the dish off the couch. With no response whatsoever after about 30 seconds she tries Sit and eye contact. We do 30 of those to get her In The Game and then I ignore her again. She starts turning her head in the wrong direction, which I also ignore. After 5 of those, she begins looking around the room and swings her head in the right direction. c/t. OH! Click for that X20. Then wait for something else. She reverts to staring at me. That Sit/stare is very strong.

OK, I’ll do a bit of luring to get her off her duff. Wait for another head swing to the right, click and toss the treat over toward the dog bed. Have to toss four before I land one close enough to her that she knows it’s there. Didn’t I used to be good at tossing treats? Well, from there we’re on our way. She stares at the dog bed, walks toward the dog bed, walks around the dog bed, backs up so her butt’s on the dog bed, runs toward the dog bed. Every time I wait for her to get on the dog bed, she skirts it to one side or the other. I’m almost out of treats (and thinking about getting a smaller, lower dog bed for tomorrow) when, with a mighty leap, she throws herself into the middle of the dog bed. I don’t really believe in jackpots, but I’m so surprised I throw the entire second-last handful of food at her. When she’s cleaned that up, she turns around and climbs back into the bed, so I give her the last little bit and finish the session. Wow, good session, smart pup!

Amazing to think that three days ago I was in love with the twerp, but not really connected. Suddenly we’re a team. In the olden days I said that I liked puppies, then didn’t like them until they were in Open obedience, when I started feeling like we were communicating. Since I switched to clicker training, I’ve noticed that the communication feeling was brought on, not by age, but by retrieving.

Stitch and I and half a wiener go out to our training room and start working on the dumbell again. Every initial touch is a tentative open mouth, and by the tenth repetition she’s grabbing and holding the dumbell. I’m thrilled. A play retrieve is a good thing, but it is, in no way, a trained retrieve. To think we used to wait until a dog was 6 months old to start training, then until it was through Novice before starting the retrieve. I’m so excited.

Ron gives them a long piece of cotton rope. With very little encouragement, Scuba gets one end of it and Stitch the other and they’re off. Later Stitch gets to jump on Scuba’s head and pull on her tail without consequences. Scuba’s deciding the twerp can stay.

As expected, she goes nicely into her crate by my bed, gives 15 seconds of whining after eating her goodnight cookie, then sleeps until 6:30. *I* am deciding she can stay. Dear little Tat.