Choosing his Reward

Another obedience post since Vito was too cute to not show the world!  


If it's nice out and I'm actually home in the evening instead of teaching classes, I take the dog's dinner outside and do some obedience practice.  Vito is very used to this and ranges from being super excited to train for his meal to being moderately excited.  Overall excitement is much higher at meal time than at any other time so I try and take advantage of it.  I usually just train in the fenced yard but for some reason I wanted to do Vito's session in the larger field.  We've occasionally trained obedience out there so it wasn't completely new to him.  Lucky for me, I had planned on video taping it to evaluate our heeling progress.  For an unknown reason I also decided to video tape exiting through the gate.  I think it was because he usually is so eager to work with me coming out of the gate that I wanted it recorded so I could compile it for part of our year-end video.  I guess I knew there was a ball around the corner but it didn't cross my mind at all that he would abandon his dinner for it.  Our session quickly went in a completely different direction than what I planned on working on!
Cutie:

Vito already had a trained swallow this cookie behavior.  I know, very odd.  But it's come in handy so many times to lower his arousal level and to get his brain thinking instead of just reacting.  After a few courtesy swallows he started to think enough that I could leave his ball on the ground and do some heeling- a behavior he also knows.  And then with some more courtesy swallows his brain started to focus 75% on me and his dinner and only 25% on his ball.  

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

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