I recently read one of Sarah Stremming’s blog posts over at the Cognitive Canine. I will give you a second to go read that …
I keep telling myself that this is what I have done with removing myself from almost every sport and all classes for the past year. The exception of course has been disc, which provides a consistent set of locations and people, an inherently fun game for him, and as low pressure an activity as I can find where I am still involved (I want to do things so badly that my desperation oozes off of me despite every effort to remain chill and that pressure doesn’t help Sei one bit). We have made progress there, glacially slow, but progress all the same.
Sei just can’t function in class or sport environments. Hell, he can’t take food in most places away from home or walk around the block most days. I’ve spent most of the past year beating myself up for quitting and not trying hard enough. But I’m going to dread going somewhere all week, stress Sei out, both of us have a bad time, and come home crying, is that really helpful for either of us? The answer is obviously no! But then, the problem is my attitude: if I could just have a happier outlook, be more empathetic, be a better trainer, then it wouldn’t be like that. Or so my brain tells me.
So at what point does getting out of the pool equal quitting? When should I try to get back in? When will I know when Sei is ready? Actually, that one is fairly easy, he tells me pretty clearly when I have a mind to listen. When will I be ready to do what Sei is ready for, rather than what I want to do?
40 days straight! Phew, I think I am ready for a little break!
Today Sei had a day off and Perrin and I toyed around with something new. While we could certainly use a lot more practice, Perrin doesn’t have a general conceptual issue with precision in heeling. Energy, however, can be a challenge. He is a pretty energy efficient guy by nature (he takes after his Bernese side on energy rather than his Golden side!), and high energy moments come in rare, extremely short spurts. Today we doodled around and experimented with adding energy to heeling. I was flying by the seat of my pants, but we both enjoyed it. I the baby beginnings of his prance!
Not really a TEAM specific exercise, but I figured it counted because it was heeling. One day I will stop avoiding doing a TEAM1 run though 😂
A very brief, early morning session of position changes with Perrin and perch shaping with Sei. Perrin and I have been alternating the position changes in heel on and off the platform. He doesn’t love doing downs on the platform, but he is ultra crooked without it. It looks like we are getting somewhere with it!
This morning Sei and I did our engagement homework for that class, and did some bits for the pivot. Perrin and I tried some fronts and find heels with a pivot platform rather than the full one.
Doing the find fronts and find heels on the pivot platform was a poor exercise choice because of Perrin’s cone. It really messed up his muscle memory for how close to be and his path into heel. He was a good sport though, and did well considering that impediment.
With Sei I tried an exercise that I hoped would help develop some stillness during stationary moments on the pivot perch. I used the reverse luring/hand zen thing (still not really sure where this technique belongs, but it has come in handy for me in the past) to get some stillness on the perch. He is obviously not magnetized to the perch well enough yet either, but I find when I just work on that I get all sorts of dancing/prancing/extraneous movement and I am not fast enough to click the bit of stillness when he gets on. So I am hoping by trying to alternate between these two exercises, it might help that.
First day of the October FDSA term! Sei and I are in Engagement at gold, so there will be quite a lot of that for the next 6 weeks. Today Sei and I did engagement for our class (his pivot pot was actually being used for bread baking, so I had to chose something else!).
Perrin and I worked on go arounds…with a toy! My toy dismissing puffin worked for a ball! Enthusiastically! He is adorable ❤
More pivots! Today I tried to slow the pivots down for each dog. Perrin had no problems. Sei had no idea what was going on. It really showed me what parts Sei really does understand, and which parts he doesn’t.
He gets the part about moving his back feet.
He had a hard time standing still on the perch, there was a lot of dancing.
Need to do some duration building on the perch in heel (he has no problem with still duration in heel off the perch). Yes Virginia, standing still is a payable behaviour!
He also anticipates the pivot before I move, which explains the large amount of over rotation we have been getting.
See above, I think that understanding will solve this one
No ‘magnetization’ to the perch, needs to be encouraged to get on it
Go back and shape just getting on it. Would actually be the first step to building duration.
We also worked on the cone wrap. The last few times I tried, we had cone thievery, so that was what I expected to work on. Sei didn’t have that problem though. He did seem to have some sort of understanding issue with it. Part of it was that I had cookies in my ‘pointing’ hand, but I never did nail down the entirety of what it was.
Perrin did his cone wraps perfectly, so I didn’t want to keep drilling it. I decided to try a vertical target, but set the target up before I set him up. This to test the theory that me going and setting up the target is his actual cue for this behaviour. I think I confirmed that. He wrapped the cone the first rep, and when I set it up for the second, he did a perfect vertical target. (I didn’t set him up quite right for this one because of space constraints, I do know this isn’t a ‘TEAM worthy’ set up.)
I had to wait until the evening to edit our morning video, but I got it done! Today we worked on heeling bits.
Perrin and I just worked on some one step doodles in the backyard.
Sei and I continued to explore pivots. We need to slow them down a lot! Sei really doesn’t understand them yet, and I haven’t split them down well enough. Sei tends to throw himself around a lot, which our current platform is not very forgiving of. So I tried a pot. It was better because it didn’t fly around when Sei started dancing, and it is a bit higher, which makes it easier for Sei to stay on the target. I think we will work in it for a while until Sei’s understanding gets a bit better. Tomorrow I will work on marking just first step, the movement from the sit into the stand/step when I start moving.
Today was a lot of bad training, and experimenting without a pre-formed plan. I know I had fun though, and I think my dogs did too. This week has gone pear shaped at every turn, and I was out of mental energy to work on precision behaviours, or things that I really care a lot about. So we just played around with some random bits and pieces.
Perrin is in such good spirits, despite his cone and ear. I’m so happy that he is feeling as good as possible under the circumstances. If he wants to play, then we will!
Sei and I dabbled with mimicry to add a send to platform over a jump, and then some position changes with me in unusual positions.