These days I’m doing Tempest’s 2-minute dog training protocols with breakfast, and Bud often takes on the dinner-time training.
My focus has been on two foundation skills: 1) heeling and loose-leash walking, and 2) two-on-two-off contact training. Our contact trainer is located in the basement, just 15 feet from where the other dogs are gobbling their meal, so Tempest is eager to perform in order to get his meal.
I’m working on new criteria for Tempest’s contacts. My idea is that Tempest should be so conditioned to the behavior that no verbal cue need be given. The contact performance I’m looking for should be the ONLY behavior Tempest associates with contact equipment.
I want him to love the 2-on-2-off position so much that he races to get into that position. His breakfast is fed, in its entirety, for being in that position.
In the meantime, when I get the time, we go to the training building and work on contact performances with his toys.
His favorite toy is a huge red, shaggy ball with a rope handle. It looks like a raggedy-ann doll head, without the face. He gets to tug with this toy for individual obstacles, as well as sequencing.
Bud has taken over Tempest’s distance training. This is very pleasing to me, since Bud “wrote the book” on distance training and has very structured training protocols in place to build a confident distance-working dog.
For example, I spent 20 minutes with Tempest last Sunday, doing initial jump training. With my clicker and string cheese, Tempest was uninspired. I faced the jump, pointed for Tempest, got him over the jump, clicked, and treated. He was distracted, sniffed the floor, just didn’t seem to be enjoying the training.
When I switched to his tug toy he got a lot more excited. But the toy drew his focus into me, rather than putting the focus on the jump. Though he was more inspired by the toy, he was not making the connection between jumping and his reward. He was dropping 8″ bars, dragging his feet, not thinking about the task at hand.
Part of the downside of my new job is that I return home after a long, stressful, day and then don’t sleep very well. After several days of work, and less sleep than I need, I get exhausted easily.
On Sunday, with clicker/cheese proving to be unmotivating for Tempest, and tug-toy proving too much stimulation for him to maintain focus, I stopped training. I figured part of the problem was that Tempest is 6 months old (and is acting, sometimes, like a jouvenile delinquent), and part of the problem was my training attitude (exhausted, uninspired).
When I returned home from work Monday night Bud had not only got Tempest jumping, but had incorporated the jump training into a distance training exercise. He was sending Tempest over 2 jumps and into a tunnel, then practicing front crossing skills on the 2 jumps coming back from the exit of the tunnel.
Rather than teaching jumps as a separate job (a training lesson I’ll pick up later with my breakfast 2-minute training protocols), Bud put jumping into a distance exercise, with the end target of a tunnel.
Tempest was doing the jumps without thinking about it, and doing jumps well. Nice focus, nice height over the 12″ jumps, driving straight down the line of jumps into the tunnel.
It was lovely, and I appreciated Bud spending the time it took to create this performance. It made my day.