18 Weeks 6 Days- She’s a Moving Dog

Nov 17, 2004 | Stitch's Story

We’ve been sidetracked by the vertical paw-target and tricks and sore gums. As I’ve got little time to train this week, we’re going to concentrate on Levels skills. We’re done Level 2.

We start with standing Eye Contact and move quickly to alternately turning to the left and to the right. She’s very good to the left, following me all the way around. A bit more trouble to the right. She starts out watching me as we turn, looks down for a step or two, back up, down again. I’m going slowly and clicking when she’s looking at me. This isn’t the way I usually teach it. Usually I just turn and click for finding me again, and let the dog figure out that it’s easier to hold on than to keep losing me. I wonder why I’m doing it this way? Maybe tomorrow we’ll try it the old way. At any rate, nice job. I’d pass the turn to the left, and ask for a bit more work if I were judging the right turn.

We work the Front Ray diagram – no problem, by the third click she’s finding the exact centre and holding it. Several times, while I was waiting to make sure she’d decided on that position (I don’t want to click for finding it in the middle of her bopping madly around, I made that mistake with Scuba and it took me several weeks to get her to hold a Front, she sat, in what I would consider a half-point-off Front for being a snitch too far out.

I put a stool upside down and ask her to go around it. It takes X10 for her to figure out what the heck I’m talking about, then I get back to about 5′ away while she goes around it. I’m using Get By and Away as cues. I always guess correctly that she’s going to go around, but not always correctly as to the direction she’s going to go.

OK, I lied about not doing duration behaviours. She’s working brilliantly, so we move over to a dogbed and see if we can get some duration, working toward the 1-minute stay. Yowzah! She’s glued to the dogbed! I count to 10, she stays on the bed and I toss her a handful. I count to 20, same result. And 30, and 40, and 50, and 60. That’s pretty darn good!

I get her a little pink paw target and put it on the rug. She’s got that right away from 4′ away. X30 – the only mistake she makes is that once she picks it up instead of whomping it. Another 20 with me tossing the reward over THERE and moving the target to HERE while she’s snarfing the treat. Very funny the first time – she turns back, whomps the carpet where the target used to be, then starts backing up thinking she can’t see it because she’s standing over it. Then she starts swinging her head back and forth trying to find it. Finally she spots a speck that might be a treat (it isn’t) and runs over to it. While she’s there, she finally sees the target. She stares at it for a second – wait, wasn’t I looking for something pink? – then startles and runs over and dives on it. Can’t fool her after that!

And that’s her breakfast, and we’re done.

Apparently just saying I don’t have time to work makes me want to work. I train three llamas, make a costume, and get two puppy sessions in. I’m pooped!

I spend a few minutes working Stitch on Go To Mat, getting her up to 60 seconds again with no trouble. Then I invite Scuba to come over and start working them both. I ask Scuba to Sit, click her, toss one to Stitch. Ask Scuba to Down, click her, toss one to Stitch. X10, then I ask Scuba for 2 behaviours and toss one to Stitch. We work up to 10 for Scuba, 1 for Stitch. I thought this would be a tough thing to explain, but somewhere in there the “duration” lecture seems to have sunk in. Stitch totally understands that the way to get treats is to stay on the mat, and that what’s happening with Scuba really doesn’t have anything to do with her. Some of the treats I toss at her bounce off and land on the floor, and she won’t even get off to get them. Scuba, on the other hand, is really sharp, especially when she realizes that Stitch gets an extra every time Scuba misses a cue! I call this the Default Dog method – Stitch gets every single treat – except the ones that Scuba earns. Worked a charm for Scuba with Song, but I thought it would be another couple of weeks, if not months, before Stitch would be able to play it.

Had a brilliant day with the llamas, too.