Monday, October 3, 2016

Day 13: A Big Leap Forward

Margaret seems to have jumped ahead in her understanding of the training process - almost overnight. She woke up extra eager to work this morning, in fine form both physically and mentally.

Thankfully she didn't notice who was in the meadow when we got up!
  Today we went over all her basics at Breakfast School, including practicing her Leave It on the Paw trick.

Then we started to apply the basics to some real life situations, as I went about some house cleaning chores.

Her Stay is progressing very well, so I decided to put it to the test a little bit. For example, when I was sweeping the floor, Margaret wanted to play catch the broom.

So I put her in a Down Stay and kept on sweeping. The reward for holding the Stay was to be able to sniff and play with the broom briefly.

She also stole a boot so we used that as an opportunity to Practice Drop It and Fetch.

We played a shaping game, in which I am teaching her to pick up a rubber dumbbell (which she otherwise has no interest in) using only a clicker and treats.  This is going slowly but she is gradually getting the point. It is very good mental exercise and builds cooperation between her and her trainer.

Next we went into town and Margaret waited in the car while I went to the Post Office. As usual, Margaret was quiet and waited patiently for me in her crate.

When we got home we played some Chuck It in the meadow to let off steam, and then did more training inside. When Debbie arrived, we practiced polite manners at the door again. Margaret was noticeably better behaved today, calmer and needed fewer repetitions before being allowed to greet, and her 4 paws stayed on the floor the whole time. She also did the whole exercise off-leash.

 Next we went outside and Margaret and The Moose played together, lots of chasing to wear her out!

After that we put Margaret through some more training paces, particularly Sit Stay and Down Stay, with The Moose as a potential distraction.

 We also played Leave it in a new place -- she hadn't done this outside before. I put a piece of butteed toast on her paw and she was able to resist!  
Leave It!
Amazing girl, you can have it!

 Upstairs we repeated the sequence of Sit Down Stay. Margaret is now lying down immediately with one word "Down," and no hand signal.

Happy to oblige

I wanted to anyway, really!
 Next - a river hike, and lots of swimming. Margaret is an amazing swimmer!

 She and The Moose had a very happy time chasing after sticks and each other.

  Margaret sometimes has trouble settling down if she  is bored, and feels like being more active. So for example, just now she was restless and started to chew the rug. I interrupted that with a sharp handclap and uh uh! Then I put something over the rug to reinforce my point, as she sneakily tried one more time to do it, verrrrry quietly. I kept my ears open, but allowed her to wander round the room a bit looking for something to get into trouble with. She didn't find anything and eventually lay down with a huff and went to sleep in her frog-dog position. This is important training too - teaching her to reign in her natural instincts and rest quietly even if she feels like doing something else.

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