21 Weeks 5 Days- Retrieving Again

Dec 7, 2004 | Stitch's Story

This morning Scuba’s breakfast involves repolishing her Watch while Stitch does Go To Mat. i spend X10 getting Stitch comfortable – I’ve rearranged the living room furniture (computer didn’t work, hard drive didn’t work, car didn’t work, dog clippers didn’t work, I was forced to play housewife!) and moved the mat. Then three kibbles for Scuba, and if Stitch is lying down on her mat, one for her. Four for Scuba, one for Stitch. Five for Scuba, one for Stitch. Takes her half the meal to figure out that putting her TAIL on the mat doesn’t count, but once she gets that sorted out she’s pretty good. Has one brief flurry of yapping to tell me how unfair it is that Scuba gets to work and she has to lie on the stupid mat, but 15-16-17 for Scuba and she gets back on the mat and shuts up. I reset the count and toss her a kibble when I get to 8.

When Scuba’s breakfast is gone, Stitch and I work on retrieving again. X10 I hand her the dumbbell, take my hand off it, hold it again, and finally YES. Then I put it on the floor and click her for looking at it, walking toward it, leaning toward it, putting her mouth on it, picking it up. This is as far as we got before we stopped weeks ago. I really want her to know that we are talking about the dumbbell, so I click for picking it up X30. Then I don’t click it. Of course she drops it. We both look at it. She puts her paw on it. I pry it out from under her paw, start again, and work X30 for picking it up. Then I don’t click. She drops it. We both look at it, and she reaches down and picks it up again, and holds it while I move my hand over to it and take it. EE HAH. I put it down on the floor and click X5 for picking it up, then reach for it instead of clicking again. She drops it, picks it up, and holds it until I take it. Then I put it on the floor, X5 for picking it up, then don’t click, reach for it, AND SHE HOLDS ON TO IT WHILE I HOLD IT. I count to 5, YES, and give her a handful of kibble. From then on it’s X3 for picking it up, then one for picking it up, handing it to me, and holding it with me. That chain X 10, and we’re done.

She plays fetch with her toys, but this is the first time she’s actually held onto a training object long enough for me to take it from her without dropping it. She really appears to have made the connection – the hand-mouth-holding and the go-and-pick-up have joined in the middle. Now we just need to get her MOVING while this is happening… I’m very happy about this. Once a dog can reliably retrieve, entire universes of behaviours open up.

We also do a bit of work on Sit For Examination. Once she realizes my hand is going to pet her and not deliver goodies, she does fine. We’ll test this back in class in a couple of days. While I’m thinking about it, I ask her to Stand a few times and give her a Stay verbal and hand cue – something I’ve never done in this context before. And she stays! We play with this X10, with me stepping back up to about 4′ away, and she holds the stand very nicely. If I click before I get back to her, she comes forward to meet me and get the kibble, but if I hold the click until I’m with her, she stays standing until she hears it. Good puppy!

We’re on a roll now. We’re so close to finishing Level Three that I look at Level Four and check off a few of the things she can do already – Come 40′ through milling dogs, Swing with handler pivoting left, allowing handling of her muzzle and teeth, floor Zen for 30 seconds with her less than a foot away. And with no food, Down from standing on one cue and Sit from down on one cue.

Starting a new level is like New Year’s day – an exciting new start.

I can tell I’m excited about her retrieving because I go to buy groceries and – what’s this in my cart? Cheez Whiz! Why on earth am I buying Cheez Whiz? Oh, yeah, SCENT DISCRIMINATION!

So I dig out four metal scent articles and we get started. I scent one and put some CW on it, lure her over to it. and amazing! She finds the CW and licks it off! Wow! Never mind a dead turtle could do this much, it’s cool anyway. The fourth time, she’s running to the article

Oh great, she just realized she can climb from half-way up the stairs onto the back of the couch.

Ahem. She’s running to the article and starting to pick it up when she’s finished licking it. I click picking it up X10, then send her away so I can re-Cheez it, CW for finding it and then 10 kibble for picking it up. We run that X5, then I add a second, unscented article. No trouble with that. X20 and I add a second unscented one. At this point, she tries picking up the new one. I ignore it. Who would have thought she could sit for so long holding a metal dumbell? Eventually she spits it out. Then she turns and goes back to the spot I’ve been asking her to lie down in while I re-Cheez them! I call her back, she comes and picks up the right one. We start again, Cheez X 10, one no Cheez. Pretty soon we’re up to 4 articles. She finds the CW, then sniffs all of them and picks up the right one. This is so cool.