4 Months 5 Days- Passes Level 2

Nov 2, 2004 | Stitch's Story

EE HAH! We finish off Level Two this morning! I put her on the floor, sit down in my grooming-table chair, and ask her to Watch. She gives me Paws Up and Sit, but her eyes never waver, and she does it on one cue.

Upward and onward! We start on Down from Sit at 10′ – she can probably do this right now with a Stay, but that’s pretty complicated, so I stand on the opposite side of a baby gate and we work very quickly up to 6′, then add Sit from Stand. X20.

Vet’s coming this afternoon to give her another shot, we’ll try the stranger hand Zen then.

We try Scent. Argh. I take 4 kibbles, show them to her, then “hide” them under a tiny plastic cup. Duh. She wouldn’t THINK of knocking over a plastic cup just because there was food in it. At least not in the middle of working for her breakfast. I show her again, rest the lip on the kibble – nothing works. Finally I put kibble in one hand, cage it loosely with my fingers up, and show her that hand and an empty one. OK, she knows where the kibble is, but she still doesn’t want to dig for it. Zen at its finest! I’m always amused by people who say they can’t teach obedience because it will interfere with conformation. EVERYTHING we teach or ask for is compromised by something else. Down interferes with Sit. Zen interferes with Touch. And, as I find out in a minute, Nose Target interferes with Paw Target…

So for today, Scent is a bust. We move on to target. She’s got a pretty good handle on Nose Target, and I made an error with Song and Scuba that I want to avoid with Stitch – I didn’t differentiate between face targets and paw targets. I just pointed the dog at something and let her figure out what to hit it with. That’s a problem for door-opening buttons and agility contacts, among other things. I was working gobacks with Song once, sending her back to whack a ring standard with her paw. My mind was drifting. Suddenly I realized that we’d veered several feet to the right and she was heading straight for the ring ROPE between the standards. My vision of her whacking the rope, bringing the entire ring down on her head, and never doing gobacks again interfered with my mouth, so I could only watch in horror as as she pulled back that huge paw – hesitated a moment, then reached out and BIT the rope. At any rate, Stitch is going to have a separate cue for paw and nose.

If I can figure out how to teach her paw target. I have a little pink plastic lid. I put her on the table and show her the lid. She gets no click for nosing it, biting it, bunting it. She loses interest in it. Put the lid in front of her and cue Down. Sure enough, she touches it with her paw on the way down. I put it on her right and cue Princess. She touches it again. I cue Sit and hold it where her Sore Paw will hit it. Great. Unfortunately she has no clue that the clicks are for touching the lid. In fact she seems convinced that I’m deliberately making her behaviours more difficult and she starts actively avoiding the lid. Argh.

The art of training is being able to break things down into tiny segments and explain them to the dog. English doesn’t work (I’ve tried).

As we’re on our way to the parlour to try again, I think of Go To Mat – a behaviour which requires her to put her paws on something. Now, I’m the Rubbermaid Queen. I have a billion and a half plastic containers of 8000 different sizes, and they all have lids.

We start with a tub lid. Perfect. The plastic makes a nice contrast to the carpet, the lid is big enough that she doesn’t try to pick it up (more than once), and the next thing she thinks of is Go To Mat. It takes her 10 to realize that I don’t need her entire body on the lid. Now she’s giving me a two-front-feet lid stomp. Good.

I pick up the first lid and put down a slightly smaller one. She has to sniff each one before she can stomp it, but after that we get good solid stomping immediately. There are 6 steps in between the tub lid and the tiny pink lid, and there she draws the line. She’s going to retrieve the pink lid. Argh.

Another brainwave. I back up to the previous lid and she stomps it with no problem. Then I put the pink lid ON the previous lid, and we finish the meal brilliantly. Training is so much fun!

We’re a bit big for our britches at lunch. She passes the stranger-Zen from Level 3, then I test her on a bunch of other things. She cheerfully fails the Down and Sit cues from 10′ away, the Distance work, the Down Stay and Sit Stay, and the Stand from Sit. By the time we’re done, she’s offering me Down no matter what I ask for. Whee. She does eliminate on cue, but even I have to admit the test for this is more a test of the observational skills of the trainer than it is of the dog. Still, she knew why she was there and she DID the behaviour.

Then we go back to the foot target. She tries to retrieve the next-to-smallest lid, we work X20 to get the paw stomp again. Then X50 to solidify it, then I add the pink lid on top of the other one. She tries to retrieve the pink one. Fortunately she puts her paws on it before she tries to pick it up (it looks a bit like a 3 Stooges routine), so I’ve got lots of time to click her before her mouth hits. By the time we’ve used up lunch, she’s working 70% paw targeting the little pink lid no matter where I put it in the room, though if I get it more than 10′ away, she’d rather hit it on her way to lying down on it. Good session.