Perrin’s day off yesterday seemed to have refreshed him. He had been having difficulty with the transition from Back Up to the Vertical Target, so that was what we planned on working on. But he nailed it! So I just kept going. And we made it to the end! COLD! No pre-practice or prior attempts. Some mistakes on the human end (putting the cone in the wrong place, switching between two differently sized dogs is hard for my poor brain), but Perrin definitely understood each exercise. I guess we truly are at the point of just trying to put it all together now!
I tried using Sei’s original platform today. We have been using Perrin’s and it is really too big for Sei. He had some difficulty finding Front in the beginning, but he is starting to figure it out. I am having some difficulty figuring out where to put the platform for each exercise so that the camera angle is right, so Sei and I experimented with the first 5 exercises to try and get that sorted out.
I was going to wait until this afternoon to do our TEAM, given that it is a weekend and all, but Sei had different plans in mind. He came over to my desk all cute, set his chin on my knee, and WHINED.
With both dogs I tried to see if we could do some platform work with toys. It was a bit of a gong show! (But Perrin working for toys is always adorable). We moved on to the indoors to test some skills, and at that point Perrin indicated that he would rather go cuddle with my husband. So Sei and I continued on.
We did some practice reps of go touch (so enthusiastic! Even when I was using the wrong word..oops!) and circle, then tried a few run throughs of exercises 6-10. I think we did okay! The nosework would probably be a NY because at that camera angle you can’t see his nose hold. We are also making some really good progress on Sei’s set ups.
I tried stringing nosework in with the other exercises. It went alright, considering it is a first try! I will have to get my time way down before we are ready to put it in with the rest of the behaviours. That should be helped by not having to run treats over to the whiney one 😉
Sei was super full of beans this morning! Set ups were killing him (and me when he kept jumping at my face), I tried to channel that enthusiasm into his go arounds. We got some pretty nice ones! (And also some cone chewing) We did try the other two exercises. His nosework was great, but the camera angle was bad, so I will have to put some more thought into that.
Nosework success! Unlike yesterday. I used the bricks idea (putting the scent inside the hole in a brick, no food pairing) and we are definitely back on track! Sei even made some really nice progress now that it was clearer what I wanted him to do.
I really gained a lot from Denise’s FB live last week about just getting out to train and try things when you get paralyzed in planning. I enjoy troubleshooting and trying ‘out of the box’ approaches when I am not agonizing over using the ‘right’ approach. We usually get where we were trying to go eventually when I just go out and try stuff!
A nosework session so bad, that I can’t even bring myself to post it here. We did nosework yesterday in an ‘interiors’ type context, and both dogs rocked it! So it seems they understand the scent part. Containers are our nemesis. I know this, so I tried to make it easier by putting food in the container. The result? A container retrieving, box destroying extravaganza! 3/3 containers broken, and no indication that either dog knows the goal of the exercise. Gah! I definitely need to work with some non-retrievable, non-smashable containers that are no fun to put in their mouths and chew on, bricks with holes in them would work! I am also seriously considering teaching HD with canning lids to start everything clean from the beginning. NW is by far our weakest TEAM exercise.
To end on a good note (for the human, this handler needs a high ROR), we tried some Find Heel without a platform. Baby dog had never tried this, and he did really well! Better than could even be hoped for considering we have only done ~5 sessions of find heel with a platform and ~3 of pivots. Lots to clean up, but I am happy that this is our starting point. I love the enthusiasm from both of them! (Even if it means getting repeatedly shoulder checked by Perrin )
I often get flustered when mistakes happen. I am happy with my problem solving here. I helped Sei where he needed it, preserved his enthusiasm, and got where we wanted to go!
We got a nice backup today! Another one in the files for submission.
Sei rocked this creativity exercise! (Is his wagging tail throwing off his balance? ❤ )
And the through!
A good, usable 4-on for something.
I could use this one for the metal, narrow, or slippery categories for Perrin’s 4-on specialty.
We did use this obstacle yesterday, but I didn’t like my hand motions, so we re-took it. This one is perfect. It could be used for metal,
Another useable 4 on for either the specialty or his intermediate.
More muzzle and nosework stuff! Nosework went fine. I need to get my act together before we work on it though, the process is not right at all! Chance got a sniff of wintergreen and ate some hot dogs though, so that is a step in the right direction!
The muzzle work has stalled out lately, so I tried something new. Because we have done so much work with having the cookies down, either on my legs or on the floor, Chance keeps smushing his face down looking for cookies with the muzzle on. I can’t lure his face up, and then he soon finds the muzzle uncomfortable because he is forcing his face into the floor. Today we tried a chin rest and just stuffed cookies into his face. Then did some ‘airplane cookies’ to try to keep his attention up. We will see if this gets us out of the rut we are in.
Dex is kind of the highlight of my day! We have kind of settled into a routine of playing everyday. Today we did personal play, with hand touches and lured spins. It is nice to just play with no worries about goals, training plans, or video.
No video for today. I needed a break! Taking, editing, and uploading the video for 4 dogs on rural internet takes hours, and I would rather be training or playing with the dogs. We didn’t do much training time-wise. It was super hot out, so all the dogs spent way more time playing with me in the pond.
Nosework and more tunnels! I started curving the tunnel for the first time, and the very early testings of whether Sei is catching the verbal ‘tunnel’ yet. I did that by setting him up in positions other than ‘middle’, facing away from the tunnel, or off at different distances. The nosework went well, he is making slow, steady improvement despite my ad-hock approach to training it. I will be honest, I really don’t like doing nosework. So I can’t get too hung up in the clean training of it or it gets so not-fun that I will never do it. If we just bumble around, it is more fun for me and the dogs don’t seem to mind as long as they are paid appropriately and I don’t let them get frustrated.
I tested Perrin’s new platform for fronts and heel position, and did some more nosework in preparation for the scent discrimination exercise. Perrin will need some remedial work on getting his back feet onto the platform. He has no problem with his front feet, but the platform is just a touch narrower than his natural rear foot stance, so he has to think about it. He also wants to be quite far away from me on the fronts, so we will have to work on that too. His scent work is also coming along slowly but surely.
A tiny bit of nosework and some disc. He is a dog who uses his sniffer a lot, and so I figured he wouldn’t have too much trouble picking up on nosework, and that is definitely the case!
Dex and I just played today. A little tug, a little ball. His happiness is contagious.
Today there was nosework for everyone! I picked up some wintergreen and some new containers. I also built Perrin a platform for our TEAM stuff, but haven’t tried it yet.
Sei is pretty much were we we left off with this. Often choosing the right one, but not consistently. Both him and Perrin do super well sniffing a single container out in a room, but less well picking the right container from many.
I have had several surprises on behaviours I thought were broken, but they weren’t. I was sure Perrin was solid on this but he wasn’t!I tried this once before the session I took video of, and Perrin looked at me like I was bat shit crazy. It seems that he has lost everything on this exercise, so we are starting from the beginning.
Chance did some nosework and some muzzle work. He did pretty well at both!
Working with the beginning steps of nosework with Dex and Chance is interesting. The initial step using this approach is for the dog to choose the scent in one hand rather than the cookies in the other. Neither of them have done any sort of IYC/Zen work, where they have learned to understand that moving away from the cookies is the gateway to the cookies. Chance did pretty well with this exercise regardless, but Dex struggled a lot. He was really obsessed with the cookies. The other approach to nosework is to start the dog searching immediately with food, then pairing scent with the food, then moving to just the scent. This is the approach I think I would take with Dex if I were really interested in doing nosework with him.
I was away with Sei for the weekend, so he didn’t get much training other than basic life skills. Perrin worked on nosework with Jake this weekend while they were home together.
On Sunday, Sei and I went to disc, and he absolutely rocked it! Even after being in the car most of the weekend and not sleeping most of the night before. He nailed all the tricks he knows just like we were at home, made some really great catches on long throws despite my inability to throw, and was just an all round sunshiny ray of enthusiasm. Once we got home, Perrin and Sei did a few rounds of nosework each.
Today, I worked on toy skills with Perrin: adding basic work into play for the first time. Mainly sits/stays/release to tug. He worked really nicely, and was still enthusiastically interested in the tug after 5 or so minutes of playing that game. We are definitely making progress there!
Sei and I worked some more jumping through the hoop, but I used a tug this time instead of a thrown toy. The change in how reinforcement was delivered definitely seemed to change the picture a bit for Sei. He was more focused on the game we were playing rather than racing around with the toy. I am starting to get more comfortable on how to use toys to reinforce work, but I am a long way off from proficiency yet!
I also noticed how differently Sei and Perrin need me to play tug with them. Perrin doesn’t get into tug much until I really start pulling back actively on the tug, especially if I am facing him head on. If I played that way with Sei, he would let go and run off. Sei prefers to win more, to ‘drag’ me backwards by the toy and to get to keep it.
My canine fitness equipment arrived today, so I was able to get the basement set up. It will be a week or so until I can get the inflatables filled up to their proper sizes (the pump that has the appropriate fitting is not very powerful, so they need to rest between fillings before I can add more air). Then I can start getting Perrin and Sei’s (and my last!) case studies started.
The last two days have been all about backstalls and nosework!
With the backstalls, the tricky part was figuring out how to reward in position with only one person! I started with cookies, but trying to reward over my head was unwieldy and I was ending up with Sei jumping onto my back and then immediately jumping off to get his reward. Then I got out the syringe of peanut butter, and that worked awesome! I started with me on my hands and knees to provide a more stable platform, a lower jump height and more margin of error. Today we started on me standing, but we need a lot of work there. Sei and I both need more core strength to do this! With me standing, I was trying to lower myself down so that Sei had a much lower height to be jumping off of, but our timing didn’t always work. Things progressed quickly from there.
Here are the highlights:
Nosework has continued for both dogs, with more of locating the hot box in a room. Perrin has the better search, while Sei has a stronger alert, but both dogs are doing really well! We will soon move on to the beginning of the container search.