Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Good Dog/Bad Dog...

After a rough start to Agility practice last night (think tasmanian devil), Pico had a fantastic Agility lesson this morning!
Jessica helped us work on our Rear Crosses on the Flat and then we worked a 13 obstacle Jumpers course in preparation for our first trial this weekend.

{demon dog}

Except for some handling issues (of course), Pico was quite willing to run fast and perform the obstacles that I did cue correctly without treats! At this point, he seems to find running a course very reinforcing which is fantastic and fun for me as well.
I talked to Jessica about how to 'jackpot' a dog who is just starting to trial since no treats are allowed in or near the ring. Jessica recommended stashing a jar of baby food near the exit and I think that's a great idea. Jarred chicken baby food, unlike traditional dog treats, is safe from other pups who are in the area and is a high-value reward. Always good to have a plan!

I am excited about finally busting onto the trial scene! I'm slightly concerned about memorizing the course and slightly concerned about my handling... now I am hugely concerned about Pico's inner devil rearing its ugly head! It seems there's always something we're working on...

{Blowing Bubbles!}

Since Gilda is no longer involved in Dog School Day, I took her for a nice, long pond swim today (without the spotted satan) and she was thrilled!
Swimming is extremely reinforcing to Gilda and I tried to use that to my advantage in working on some impulse control with her.
On hot days, Mike lets Gilda swim during walks as a way to keep her cool. He reports that lately she is refusing to come out to continue the walk. We theorized that each time he calls her out, her swim time ends and since she'd much rather swim than walk at heel, she stays swimming and ignores his request. After all, dogs do nothing out of spite. They do everything out of what works best for them!
To help with this, I insisted that she walk at heel to the pond. Please note that this was neither fast nor fun for either of us!!! Once at the pond, Gilda had to sit before being released to 'go swim'. (She will not take treats when near the pond so I use 'go swim' as her reward).
Frequently, I'd call her out of the pond and to me (not easy) and then reward her by letting her swim. Sometimes I'd call her to me and hold her collar before releasing her. Other times I'd hook her leash on before releasing her, and sometimes I'd hook her leash on, take a few steps toward the car and then release her to swim.
The more we work on this, the more she'll be willing to come to us I'm hoping. This is the closest we've come to the Premack Principle with Gilda as nothing else is quite so valuable to her.
The pond is where I was able to teach Gilda that she must bring the ball to us (okay, near us) in order to fetch it again. Her 'drop' was non-existent before this!
When we got home from swimming, the UPS guy arrived instantly reminding me that there truly is always something to work on with dogs! IF only UPS delivered to the pond...

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