Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Whoo-hoo! We have a Whistle Sit!

Today on our morning walk, I asked for a lot of whistle Sits. They would go like this; Whistle Sit cue, Luna'd turn and start towards me (intending to Sit in Front), I'd immediately follow with the Hand Signal Sit, and she'd stop and Sit where she was. I consistently repeated this when she was a good way out in front of me.

At about 3/4 of our walk, I saw that she was beginning to anticipate the Hand Signal after the Whistle. So, I took a chance; 'Can you Sit where you are on the Whistle alone?' YES, she could! Whoo-hoo! Big party!

I repeated that two more times, for a total of 3 Sits in place on the Whistle cue alone, and each one got better and faster! C/T for me remembering to stop after the 3rd successful trial. ;-)

Obviously we'll be practicing this a lot more, and when she's nice and solid on the Whistle Sit, I'll start mixing it up with the Whistle Recall, so that she learns to really listen and discriminate between the two sounds. I'm confident she'll nail it, and then we're all set for the Gundog training week in January!

I use the same whistle, an Acme 211,5 for both cues; Sit is 'Piew!' and Come is 'Fuuut-Fuuut!'

Luna, you rock!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Training Log for Dec 18

Been a while! But we’re back now. I realized yesterday that it is only three weeks before our trip to Ameland, and there were some things I wanted to practice with Luna before that time. Today, we got started.

First I explained to her the ‘Sit’ whistle, or rather a ‘Place’ whistle because I’ll accept a Down too. So long as at least her butt’s on the ground, that’s good. And I know, if she’s really into it, she’ll Down. So, fine! Installing the whistle up close was a breeze, now we’re just working on getting her to respond immediately at a distance without coming toward me or needing a hand signal as a back-up. Besides that though, she did a good job!

Next, we moved on to retrieves. I decided to try some double retrieves, with two dummies relatively close to each other so that she would have to go back to the same spot to get the 2nd dummy. This was hard. She needed me to walk with her toward the general location, and I had to toss the 2nd dummy again twice. I don’t think her motivation was the issue though, which is a good sign, but rather the fact that the dummies got swallowed by 7 inches of snow. And sniffing them out seems to be quite a task. So, although we LOVE the snow, I do hope it’ll melt before our due date, or we won’t be able to practice retrieves! Oh well... At least by then we will have a Come- and a Sit whistle! Yay!

Other than that, we had a blast running through the snow, playing with a ball - see above image - and enjoying the outdoors.

On the food front; she’s been on the pre-ground raw mix now for two weeks and she’s doing great on it! Also, I bought a little less than 2 pounds of cheese as treats, and the thing isn’t even half used yet, so that means it actually lasts way longer than I thought it would. Nice!

I haven’t weighed her since, but I will do that in the next few days.

What else? Um.... well, we’ve been playing ball on the days I don’t have to walk our old Westie as well, and she’s very happy about that. I no longer have her Stay until the ball lays still, but I will not throw the ball until she stops and looks at me to see where it will go. This way, she doesn’t make weird moves trying to catch the ball in mid-flight, she slows down nicely before picking it up off the ground. Good girl!

I’ve also been letting her carry the ball when we encounter other dogs, as this has, in the past, helped very well in keeping her calm rather than throwing a fit at the other dog. When holding the ball, she’ll just high-step trot right past the dog and stop on the other side; ‘Will you kick my ball mom?’ I’ve noticed that I do have to insist she hold on to it, because if she lays down and releases the ball, the next step is that she’ll run up to the other dog, screams in its face and then runs back to get her ball and move on. It’s funny, in a way, but not good.

And I’ve decided to do some Bar Open - Bar Closed with other dogs as well; continuous feeding when we see another approaching dog, and then the feeding stops when the other dog is far enough away. That’s gonna cost me more cheese, but all the better if that means eventually she can Sit and be calm as a default, when other dogs show up. I’d like to get her to the point where she doesn’t need a ball in her mouth - which is really just management - but just go; ‘oh, a dog, look ma, I’m Sitting and looking at you!’ That would be nice.

Anyone has other ideas?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Training Log for Dec 3

Last night, on our last walk of the day, we had a fun training session. We worked on Heeling, Fronts, Finishes, and Down, Sit and Stand in motion, in that order. Her heeling - short stretches, 20-30 paces, some right about turns - was beautiful; tail wagging, looking up at me, her shoulder nicely lined up with my leg, and smiling happily. What a wonderful little lady.

Her Finishes often included a jump into position and a ‘Look at me go!’ face.

We did a Down in motion twice, then a Sit in motion twice - the first with an extra hand signal to remind her that Sit goes up, not down, she Downed anyway, I stopped and waited. ‘Oh, Sit!’ C/T! - and then I decided to see what she would do if I asked for a Stand in motion. Heeling, heeling, ‘Stand!’ and she Downed. I stopped a couple of paces away from her, intending to let her figure it out. Down didn’t get her the click. Sit didn’t get her the click. Down with her chin on the ground did not get her the click. Down on her side did not get her the click. Then, she said, ‘I don’t know!’ and she came to me and Sat. OK, let me help you! Heeling, heeling, heeling, ‘Stand!’ and my index finger lightly under her belly. She stood and remained standing as I walked on, Click & chase the ball! Repeated that another time, and then without reminding her of her back end. Heeling, heeling, ‘Stand!’ and I kept walking. She took 5 more steps & there was the Stand. YAY! Good girly! Get your ball!

Again. Heeling, heeling, heeling, ‘Stand!’ and I kept walking. She took 3 more steps and Stood. Whoohoo!

Again. Heeling, heeling, ‘Stand!’ and I kept walking. She took 1, maybe 2 more steps before standing. Eeh haw! Luna is the best dog in the world!

Wow. I was amazed. And SO proud. She was smiling and happy the whole time, even when I let her figure out the Stand on her own that first time. Such a difference from the sulking, hunched, insecure dog she was four years ago, in our traditional obedience classes. We ended the session with a little more ball play, and then I let her keep the ball as we continued on home.

I am super duper happy right now. What a fantastically smart dog!

Oh, by the way, the picture shows Luna at 4 years old, with the same happy face she had going all through last night’s session. I call it her ‘Wheehee!’ face. ;-)