2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 8

Tempest is now 16 weeks old.  In another week he’ll be four months old and I’ll be dropping the “weeks” designation, hopefully.

In a week he’ll also go onto a good quality adult dog food and off of puppy food. I’ve been feeding him Wellness puppy food and have been very pleased with his response to it, and his general good health.

Tempest had his last puppy vet visit last Tuesday, getting his last booster shot for Parvo, etc., and his first Rabies shot. So he’s good-to-go as far as getting around other dogs at shows, etc.

He’s accompanying me to Dayton next weekend for obedience trialing, along with my entourage which includes:  1) Dash, my obedience dog,   2) my Mom who may come along for the sheer pleasure of sitting all weekend at an obedience trial and watching her grand-dogs,  3) my dear friend Gwenn who lost her beloved Poochie this year and who enjoys watching the dogs and dreaming of her next pup.

I’ve been doing doggie activities on a regular basis since 1995.  My siblings like dogs, but none of them immersed themselves as I have.

Upon retiring from 35 years as a 5th grade teacher, my sister has joined agility classes for the summer. She works my veteran Dash in intermediate agility. He likes the cheese, but wears out prematurely halfway through the 2-hour workshop.  I think agility training may have found its way onto my sister’s “bucket list.”

It’s fascinating to me that Janice not only enjoys agility with Dash, the activity and the training, but is quite a good student. When faced with a sequence she asks all the right questions and has a basic knowledge of the learning process. Probably a result of all those years in grade school. <g>

But what she enjoys most is the sense of community and comraderie in the advanced class that follows hers. She stays and watches, contributes to and draws from the potluck offerings, and chats with students. Perhaps I’ll get her to travel to shows with me sometime.

Janice, my sister, is Tempest’s second mother, and takes a special interest in him. She keeps hoping he’ll turn into a “dud” so she can take him. That’s probably not going to happen, but it’s funny watching her try to spoil him for dog agility.

Last week I stepped up Tempest’s training on several fronts.

A.  Movement was added, both mine and Tempest’s.  Instead of a stationery 2-on-2-off for meals, or a small drive down the dogwalk plank, I started him on the ascent of the a-frame (he quickly learned that he needed to drive up the center of the a-frame to find the descent plank of the dogwalk on his contact trainer), and allowed him to drive all the way down the descent without having his food bowl on the floor as a lure.

Additionally, I was moving, and would assume any casual position as he was working. I don’t want my movement to be part of his performance, so it becomes a variable instead of a constant. I want him to really focus on what he should do, not on what I’m doing.

Additionally, Tempest ran with Renee Clark last Thursday night and showed a propensity for biting and barking as he ran.  I resolved to begin my protocol called “My Dog Bites Me” as soon as possible. This protocol shows the dog that running silently, and without putting teeth on flesh, is a good thing. Bud’s Kory runs silently, mostly because that’s who he is — Bud didn’t teach that behavior. But he said, “I really don’t mind the dog barking while he runs,” to which I replied, “Well, I hope to do gamblers and other games, so I DO mind if he barks while he runs.”  LOL

Barking while running, though sometimes an outward sign of inward joy, rattles my brain and disqualifies a dog in rally or obedience, so it has no place in my canine partner. Work is best done silently — he needs to be listening to me, not contributing to the noise level of the venue.

So yesterday I worked at sending Tempest to a tunnel (which, for some strange reason, he loves!) and letting him see me running as he exited. The first few times he caught sight of me running and came after me barking and nipping. My response was to go completely deadpan (for barking) and to down him (for actually biting me — this only happened twice before he realized it wasn’t nearly as much fun to bite me as one might assume).

Within 5 tries he was working silently, exiting the tunnel and running to whichever lead hand indicated the treat. My next step, this week, will be to add the stuffed toy and allow him to do the tunnel, come to my lead hand, and drive forward for the tossed toy.

B.  Tempest was introduced to weave entries last week, using my clicker for a proper entry and a treat thrown on the floor ahead of him. I’d like to transition this month to toy training, but first have to teach him to …..

C.  Retrieve!  Tempest has had 2 short lessons in the inducive retrieve using clicker and food. He’s gone from being totally focused on the food to touching the toy, to putting teeth on the toy, to lifting the toy, to tossing the toy, to bringing the toy toward me, to fetching and lifting the toy toward me. He’s about 25% of the way to a formal retrieve with his first prop — his stuffed hawk.  When he’s retrieving it nicely he’ll get to play with it on the agility equipment.

Bud’s Kory learned a terrific play retrieve. Since Tempest will be doing formal retrieves he needs a little more foundation training which encourages the pup to drive directly to the item, pick it up without mouthing, return directly to me, and sit-in-front to present the toy to me.

D. Tempest got to spend an hour doing agility with the beginner class yesterday. The class goes 2 hours but I didn’t want him to peter out during class, so I withdrew him mid-way. It was 90+ degrees, so the heat was another factor in my decision to quit early.

In class, Tempest got to do the table (getting on, hearing his attention word, turning to me and getting his treat) about 6 times, the trainer teeter a dozen or so times, the trainer dogwalk a few times, and — most importantly — beginner sequencing!!  Table-dogwalk-tunnel was his big sequence, and he shows a ton of drive when I’m moving and he’s working.

Things are getting exciting !!!

On a domestic note …. our house is very quiet without Wizard alerting us to movement outdoors. Students note that they miss his barking as they drive past the house.

I’ve put dog beds and the ottoman next to where I commonly hang out, and Tempest has decided that right-next-to-mom-on-the-cushy-thing is the best place in the whole world.

Dash is going to attempt to get his CD and his first 2 legs towards his RAE this coming weekend.

Kory is just a few weeks from his AKC Novice debut — in Dayton, Ohio, inside their training building, on rubber mats.  There’s a possibility we can both go to the trial, and I’d love to get to watch my boys run for real, to be in charge of videotaping and cheerleading.

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