Booot Camp for Stays

The corgi has been practicing lots of sit stays since the trial three weeks ago.  My plan of attack was to replicate minor amounts of stress in hopes that knowing he could work through it would transfer to trials.

Here's what I found:
1. Lance really does not like food behind him, a fact that I discovered about 2yrs ago in my attempt to have a "security blanket" behind him so he didn't feel completely abandoned.  I didn't do it again until now.  Lance has always been that good dog who will actively take a wide berth around food, toys, or even fuzz on the floor; something I've occasionally tried hard to fix on go outs and recalls.  This means conflict for stays.  So far he hasn't broken a single stay with food behind him but he sure looks sad.  I've recently started releasing him to the food behind him vs picking it up off the floor to give him and this makes Lance a bit happier.

2. Random distance sits continue to produce stress.  This is where I'm sitting on the couch and tell him to sit and stay while he's 10ft away from me just hanging out.  Sometimes I then continue to ignore him on the couch, sometimes I go out of sight.  Mostly he holds the sit very well.  On 3 occasions I got him to break after I ignored him, then left for awhile, and then came back to sit on the couch again.  I guess Lance figured I forgot about him, or maybe just doubted that I ever gave the command in the first place.

3. Stays in places other than home actually have the least amount of stress as long as food isn't behind him.  It's like he's in more of a training mode and better understands that I might want him to sit awhile.

4.  I've apparently taught him to love chairs.  I'm not sure when I started occasionally asking Lance to hop on a chair, but I've done more of them these last two weeks and Lance is obsessed with it.  I've never asked for it at home (although I guess that's a good idea, I'll try a sit on the couch!) but at dog classes Lance is constantly offering to hop on a chair if there's one near by.  Zero stress; I guess he like being up high!  It would be awesome if I could just bring a little chair to the lineup with me in a trial, can't you picture the corgi on his chair sitting next to a Great Dane :)

5. Some issues are starting to pop up with the release word.  There are times where Lance will not move on my first OK.  This is not the case if I release him to food behind him of course :)  I know that he does know the release well, and truly knows a verbal only.  In agility practice I release him without any movement on my part.  And while I can sometimes fool him once by leading out, pausing to face him, then sprinting away without releasing  I can never fool him a second time.

6.  I haven't really been worried about focusing on other distractions.  Inevitably we end up practicing some anyway as when other people see Lance sitting in the kitchen at work, or on a chair at class and ask what we're doing almost everyone starts helping on their own.  The corgi can add successfully resisting recalls by his favorite people with momma out of sight to his checklist.

Ximena  – ( March 23, 2013 at 12:52 PM )  

Hmm. Has anyone recommended a platform to you? This helped enormously with Elli's stays. Like, clear criteria: Stay means Sit on the platform, if you step off (which is a noticeable change for her), then no reward. I haven't yet faded the platform entirely, but so far, so good.

I love the idea of chairs for obedience. Elli'd relax so much if that were the case...

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( March 23, 2013 at 3:32 PM )  

Thanks for the suggestion, Ximena. I really like platform work as it is very clear to the dog on what is expected. I need to do more of it for our fronts and finishes! I just don't think Lance would benefit from platform work on his stays as I truly believe he knows what his job is; he just stresses in a trial. He has maybe broken 1 stay a year in practice over the past 4yrs and even in my attempts at producing stress these past few weeks he has only broke (lied down) less than 5 times.

Last night I put him in a sit in the hallway while I got ready for bed and even turned off the lights and crawled under the covers!

Muttsandaklutz  – ( March 23, 2013 at 7:49 PM )  

Well no one can say you aren't working it! Very creative, all the various contexts you're coming up with.

Ximena  – ( March 23, 2013 at 10:48 PM )  

I definitely agree with you -- He probably does know he job. Sit means sit. Unless there's stress. Then he forgets his job. At least, that's how I'm understanding your predicament.

So, I guess my true suggestion would be to introduce a platform specifically to help him understand the criteria *still exists* when there is stress. Does that make sense?

Ximena  – ( March 23, 2013 at 10:48 PM )  
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Kim  – ( March 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM )  

Stay...that's something my new one knows nothing about. Thanks for the great reminder on all the contexts I need to teach it...when I actually start teaching her something!

achieve1dream  – ( March 27, 2013 at 1:34 PM )  

Yay!!! I finally figured out how to comment!! What the heck is up with your comment form? LOL!

I've been reading and enjoying your blog, but haven't been able to comment in a while. I'm glad everyone is doing well and that Stay Boot Camp is going so well hehe. :)

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