2-minute dog trainer, advanced puppy work

I’m so lucky to have a pup who loves to go out to the building to train, who loves both toys and food, who is always interested in interaction with me.

I’m also lucky to have a pup with an “off switch.”  When he’s in the house, Tempest is relatively calm and quiet. He takes wicked-deep naps, has what I can only assume are awesome dreams of barking and chasing, and is very nearly house-trained now.

He still has accidents on occasion, but he seems more capable of holding it until he gets outside.

This week I’ve started advanced puppy work, including:

1) heeling … I pour Tempest’s food into his bowl, set it up on a table, and walk about 10 feet away with my clicker and my puppy … we turn and face the food bowl … I put Tempest in heel position in a sit … I position my hand as it would be for heeling (at my waist) … we heel forward about 2 feet and halt (with a click and sit) … another 2 feet and halt … I ask for 2 or 3 tiny heeling events … then make a big deal about putting his food bowl down.  YAY !!

In the past I’ve experienced dogs who had issues with delayed reward.  I want Tempest to realize from day one that there are going to be times when he’ll be expected to behave in a particular way even without food immediately available.  Perhaps this is the “working dog” benefit, but it seems to be working for us.

So he doesn’t get food with every heeling movement, with every sit. It’s more of a jackpot for being biddable for that entire 30-second period of time.

2)  contacts … we go out to the big-boy dogwalk a couple times a day … with our tug toy in my off-side hand … ask for a “walk it — lie down” and play tug for a completed 2-0-2-o contact performance … I try to not insert physical cues, to not handle Tempest, to let him choose to get into position … then lots of tugging and play!

The “lie down” cue is sort of a universal “look-at-me-and-freeze” command.  Since Bud will be running Tempest some, and I’ll be running Kory some, we’ve chosen to establish the same criteria, teach the same skills, and have the same verbal cues.

3) bang-it! … Bud’s teeter cue used to be “walk it!” and mine was “teeter!” … Kory demonstrated some confusion over the teeter last weekend so we decided “bang it!” might be a good meeting place for both our dogs … Tempest and I go to the baby teeter and he runs from end to end … “Bang it!” has him running to the end, riding the teeter down, and assuming his 2-o-2-o position … he really stretches forward with his front feet, waiting for …. the tug toy!

4) self-control … with a line of jumps in front of him, Tempest is able to sit and stay while I walk around the first jump … he gets his tug toy for staying … then back to his sit stay and gets to take a jump … he gets his tug toy for staying … I don’t want to always release him to the jump … sometimes I’ll release him in another direction.

Tempest shows amazing self-control, but it’s not surprising — he’s been taught self-control since he was 8 weeks old. I believe I’m seeing the benefit of all my “sit for attention, sit to exit your pen, sit to exit your crate, sit to exit the house, sit to make the babygate open,” etc.

I’m using toys and tugging for Tempest’s agility training, and food and clicker for Tempest’s obedience training. Lucky for me he LOVES BOTH !!

Bud leaves for a 4-day trial and seminar trip tomorrow, so Tempest and I will have plenty of time to ourselves.  We’ll continue our advanced puppy work with jump work and some beginner weave-work (2 poles, no twisting).

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