Friday, September 15, 2006

And Some Training Notes

SUMMARY: Why don't I ever work on the things I really need to work on?

Taking Tika for a walk with the other dogs is a mighty struggle. I hate it. It has really cut down on how often and how long I walk, more and more over the last four years. If I leave her behind, she shrieks to high heaven and I can hear her up to a couple of blocks away. I hate it.

So, this morning, stymied again by wanting to take dogs for a walk but not doing each one separately or cutting my walk short with Jake, I decided to try fixing Tika's screeching problem. I grabbed the leashes and shuffled the other 2 dogs quickly out the front door (can have Jake & boost off leash; not Tika), gave tika a goodie for not going through, and closed the door. (Note that when I give goodie or treat, it's always praise-treat, but Tika's definitely the food-motivated kind.) Waited 5 seconds, opened door, treated, closed door. Called Boost back who was wandering down the sidewalk, opened door, treated, closed door.

Waited 8 seconds, opened door, treated, closed door. Put other dogs into a sit, put on their leashes, opened door, treated, closed door. Waited 10 seconds, opened door, treated, closed door. Trotted noisily down steps with other dogs, waited, Tika made a bit of a yip; I waited--9 seconds and she yelped again. Waited--9 seconds and yelp. Waited--9 seconds a slight whimper and then I waited a few more seconds, ran back up, opened door, treated.

OK, you get the idea. Gradually increasing the amount of time; noisily leaving the front door but then quietly sneaking back to treat her if she wasn't shrieking.

This also meant putting the other dogs into sits or downs while I snuck back. Jake was good but Boost wasn't comfortable with me doing it quietly and surreptitiously, apparently, because she's usually good but this time got up often. So between Tika treats, I worked on leaving Boost in a sit or down next to Jake, just out of sight. She got better with appropriate praise and attention.

And Boost, Jake, and I finally managed a walk all the way down to the end of the court (one house), across the street, to the end of the block (2 houses), back to the court, all the way around the court (4 houses) and to the front door without hearing a single shriek out of Tika! I hadn't expected it to be that easy. It was SO hard with Remington years ago. Maybe I'm better at it now. Maybe Tika's an experienced, "operant" dog who understands more about BEING trained.

I'm sure we'll have to repeat the whole thing again multiple times, but now I'm wondering why I never tried this before? Or did I? I don't remember...

Worked on Boost's call from a tunnel to a perpendicular jump as in the beginning of a serpentine (the thing we had so much trouble with in class yesterday). Not great, but gradually more consistent.

And, since Tika's been better at doing gambles since I've found ways to practice gambles in my back yard, it occurs to me to wonder why I'm not practicing snooker-type maneuvers in my back yard--and why I haven't been creative enough to find ways to do it. So today, I did. The trick is to get her really excited and revved and covering long distances going around obstacles. Managed to do it, although indeed going around obstacles is hard for her. But she was trying hard to understand what I wanted and didn't give up on me, which she sometimes does when the stress level is high in training. (In competition, that would be biting my feet.) So I feel like we made progress.

Jake... well...

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