During this period of TDAA upheaval and anxiety, with a small number of teacup enthusiasts finding pleasure in jabbing at Bud and I with a combination of untruths and malice, I find comfort in training my puppy and seeing his progress with my own eyes. He’s a real treasure to me right now.
In the meantime, I want to get Tempest prepared for participation in our classes and workshops this winter. In order for him to be ready he needs to get away from herding me (stopping, facing me, staring at me) and start running with me or moving through obstacles on his own.
“HOOP — GO ON” — I first set up three hoops in a very tight pinwheel. The inner uprights of the hoops were touching, in fact.
The lesson is that, once I’ve said “hoop,” Tempest is to go through the first hoop and then “go on” and do the rest of the pinwheel.
Over the course of a week the pinwheel enlarged until the inner uprights were approximately 15 feet apart (making the entire pinwheel about 30′ x 18′).
During the second week of “hoop — go on” training, the pinwheel began to flatten. Instead of remaining a pinwheel it became a 3-hoop crescent shape.
Next week the 3-hoop crescent shape will become as close to a straight line as we can get.
“TOUCH” — I want an equal amount of attention to the opposite skills. The opposite of distance skills are tight, technical skills.
I began by teaching a simple “touch” command to my hands. I quickly moved from a standard “touch” presentation, with Tempest facing me and moving to my hand at my side, to a random presentation. Sometimes he’s asked to come to my left hand, sometimes my right hand, sometimes with me facing him, sometimes with me facing away, sometimes with me moving away.
“HOOP — GO ON — TOUCH — HOOP — GO ON” — when I felt Tempest was ready (when he was 80% consistent on behaviors) I began to combine the two.
I set him up at hoop one and cued “hoop,” then “go on” to hoops two and three, then “touch” followed by “hoop” and “go on” in another direction.
The order in which I do the hoops doesn’t really matter at this point. I want him to understand that distance and close-up are equally relevant and equally rewarding.
This training has taken place, for the most part, in 2-minute increments during breakfast and dinner.
Tempest does hoops 1-2-3-touch-into-a-front-cross-then-hoop 1 again …. eats half his breakfast. Tempest does hoops 3-2-1-touch-into-a-front-cross-then-hoop 3 again … eats the rest of his breakfast.
Soon I’ll start switching from sending him to 3 hoops to sending to just 2 hoops and crossing before he has a chance to go on to hoop 3.
Agility delivers an ever-changing picture to the dog and I want Tempest to understand that I hold the key to the puzzle.