Training Changes

After the Denise Fenzi Seminar I have managed to make a few changes in my daily training.  Mainly making the dumbbell and scent articles more fun!  And with the changes I have actually practiced scent articles almost daily with the corgi as compared to my usual x2 a week in a good week.  Click for me!

I've been breaking out of the traditional article set up and have been putting the articles in odd places.  On top of the couch, under the coffee table, and in the bath tub.  Recently I have even started to hide the entire pile from him.  And Denise was right, Lance stopped stressing if he had the right article and instead focused on how to get to the pile or finding it all together!  Zero freezing over the pile and his selection time is becoming faster and faster.  He is having a blast and that is reinforcing me to do them more often.

With Vito I've been focusing on hiding his dumbbell.  I've done it a few times without any external rewards but now I'm starting to do it with dinner as he is more likely to eat when doing this game.  I can tell that he is liking his dumbbell more and I know that if I try a bit harder I can turn the db into a valued toy.

I've also been working on changing Vito's go out behavior from a paw touch to a nose touch.  Not directly related to her seminar, but a change I've actually committed to because of it.  Vito's always been hesitant about pawing the ring gates and had been skipping the touch altogether to just push his butt up against the wall.  I was ok with that behavior but I realized that by letting him switch back and forth at will I'm not having the clear criteria I need.  Hopefully a nose touch will make Vito happier.

Loretta Mueller was also kind enough to see my boys last weekend and lending me support in my running contacts endeavor.  I had stopped training Vito on turns after the dog walk almost 2 months ago since I wasn't getting anywhere and was confusing the crap out of my poor dog.

I'm now going to start requiring Vito to look where he's going before releasing him as his focus on me instead of the jump is likely contributing to his issues.  I'm making it a new rule on the start line as well.  And we're just going to move the jump very gradually, no rushing things.  Patience :)

The corgi is just messed up!  I think I've worked up to 90% full height about 4 times now, always starting from almost scratch each time as he starts stressing.  This last time it was going great rewarding every attempt with the manners minder and extra good treats for the times he actually ran through.  But then it all came crashing down again when Lance started stressing over the behavior and started to refuse to eat the treat from the MM when he didn't hear me praise, started slowly walking down the plank, or even offering going up the board to restart but refusing to come down.  While I try to remain upbeat I know he feels my frustration.

Since I've done the same plan 4 times and have failed 4 times, Loretta has suggested we try something new :)  Back to kindergarten in just building value for being on DW, especially the end.  Lance's tension at getting to the end of the plank is obvious and he purposefully flies over the lava contact zone even when walking down it.  So getting him to eat from the MM again (that didn't take long!), putting it close to the end, letting him offer going down.  I've done a few shaping sessions where Lance gets to choose when to go up and when to turn around and come back down.  I'm also working on being quiet the entire time, just letting the beep be the marker and letting him think.  My praise puts too much pressure on the corgi.

Who knows where this will lead us but at least he's happy being on the DW again.  Right now the MM is 3ft out and Lance is doing great walking down or at a trot.  He still can't run it without stressing over the end and jumping it.  I'm hoping that confidence will bring speed.  Not exactly Silvia Trkman's philosophy but I've clearly screwed up her method enough anyway.

His aframe is still a nightmare but I can't expect much out without practicing it!

Kathie R  – ( July 24, 2011 at 7:02 PM )  

I like your idea about hiding the dumbbell and putting the articles in unusual places. That sounds like making it more of a game resulting in more fun for the dogs. Jackson really gets excited when I hide treats and then send him to find them so I'm trying to find a way to carry that excitement over to the articles. Maybe hiding the articles will help get him more excited. I'll need to find a way to incorporate treats in the game though to keep him interested : )

Kathy  – ( July 25, 2011 at 10:02 AM )  

hahahah, ah the challenges of contacts. sounds like ya got some good plans going on!

Dawn  – ( July 27, 2011 at 7:50 AM )  

Laura, your an incredible trainer and I am sure you will figure out the perfect solutions for any issue. I wish(dream, covet, desire) that my dogs worked as well as yours! If you did screw up one thing, I am pretty sure you will get it fixed.

achieve1dream  – ( July 28, 2011 at 8:03 PM )  

That's really sweet of Loretta to help you. :)

I'm glad the new methods are working for everything and I'm sure you'll figure it all out soon. Keep up the great work and try not to get frustrated/discouraged.

Marie  – ( August 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM )  

After reading the posts that on your blog and on Reactive Champion's, I would just love to be able to get to a seminar of Denise Fenzi's. I've been watching her videos on youtube and she looks amazing. I think it sounds like you're on the right track to make articles and the dumbbell more fun.

I am really struggling to figure out how to make heeling more fun for Dare.

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