Had a lovely session this afternoon.
We went in the parlour to work on retrieving. He’s always up and ready anytime I look like I might be heading for the parlour. So we sat down and I started handing him the dumbbell. He doesn’t have a solid hold yet, he thinks if I haven’t clicked yet he must have to rearrange it in his mouth, and he really thinks he should be getting it out of my hand, but he’s eager to grab it. It’s getting better.
As he was grabbing, I decided to teach him to rest his chin on my palm. That took about 5 reps to get because Giants have very heavy heads and kind of know it’s good to have places to rest them. Then I had his chin in my hand and handed him the dumbbell with the other hand, which slowed down the grabbing and yanking a bit.
Then I put it on the floor to do some shaping to go to it, but he short-circuited that by going right to it and picking it up. Sometimes I can grab it before he drops it, sometimes I can’t. I’m not in any way pretending he’s understanding the getting-it-to-me part (which is the part I’m teaching him in hand), but he has no hesitation in picking it up, even picking it up and turning toward me before he drops it. Excellent.
And then, in the middle of the session, Ron started doing something in the kitchen and BoBo thought about the lesson and then went to stand at the door and whine.
OK. Know what? Syn hasn’t had a training session in a month. I let him into the kitchen while calling Syn through into the parlour. That gave him pause, but… oh well, I’m in the kitchen!!
Until he heard the first click. THAT did not go over well. He could hear the clicks, hear the cues, and hear her crunching. He whined. He paced. He called out in agony.
Eventually I went and let him in too, but I put him on a leash and made him lie down on the couch. And stay lying down on the couch. And made him lie down on the couch.
Then I did a dozen in-hand holds with Syn, liberally rewarding each one and obviously having both of us hold it together. And made him lie down on the couch.
And then I through the dumbbell across the room a dozen times with Syn retrieving, putting it in my hand, and holding it with me each time. Then another half dozen in-hand holding, and I put her up on a chair and brought Spy back out.
I just about fell off my chair.
I held my hand out, he put his chin in it, I handed him the dumbbell, and he held it. Without moving. Making eye contact, chin in my hand, he sat there holding the dumbbell. I really don’t like jackpots but I was so excited I opened my hand and dropped the whole handful of kibble on his feet.
And then he did it again.
And then I threw the dumbbell five feet away and he went over, picked it up, brought it back, and gave it to me.
The next time, of course, he picked it up, dropped it, and came back wanting a treat. The time after that he kicked it around the room a bit and came back wanting a treat. So I did a bit more with Syn and stopped.
Fabulous session. Not only made huge progress on the retrieve (no, I don’t think he’s got it because he did it once), but did a successful watch-the-other-dog learning session AND got to show him what happens when he wanders off to do something else in the middle of a session. Excellent.