Broken Training Sessions

Yesterday Zumi had a horrible training session.  A session in which I attempted to go back to basics in order to try and fix a problem that's cropped up with her go out training.  But it didn't go as planned.  I attempted to make it even easier and it still didn't go as planned.  Finally, I scrapped it so I could step aside and really look at what might be some of the root issues.  I left the session feeling frustrated.  A good sign that I should have stopped even earlier than I did.  And a huge blinking neon sign that I need to break things down even further.

There will always be sessions where the unexpected happens.  Times where you feel like you're spinning your wheels.  But they

So I sat down and really looked at the problems I've been having with Zumi's obedience training.  Mainly it's in 2 areas.
1) Retrieves
2) Go outs

Both are "sends" away from me.  Both have similar symptoms of vulturing and vocalizing as soon as she is released.  And both have gotten worse.
I have mainly been focusing on the retrieve portion and have written about how I wanted to tackle her arousal levels though adding eye contact as a criteria to be sent, paying attention to her foot moving as a precursor to vulturing and scootching, working on calm duration before the send,  and when she vocalizes going into calming mode before the next rep with cookie scatters, duration hand touch, and/or a down stay with frequent slow cookie deliveries. 

But while progress seemed to be going well, it has lately gotten worse.  And since the go out has similar symptoms (and causes) it has effected it even though I have not been focusing on it.

If I had to guess where I went wrong I would point to focusing too much on her foot movement.  I don't think Zumi is consciously aware of moving her foot out and thus resetting her for a moved foot added too much stress and uncertainty. I should have noted the foot movement as a symptom of her arousal levels and made things easier the next rep, but not focus on it itself.

So the retrieve started to break with now actually moving her whole body on some short tosses as her frustration level rose.  Her eye contact criteria actually still remained pretty strong though!  I did find that stepping out of heel position seemed to help Zumi relax a bit more, less muddied waters compared to heel!

And then it makes sense that Zumi's go out mark started to get worse with the emphasis I've been putting on eye contact with her retrieve.  And with the stress of the  mark starting to creep in this led to more vocalizing on her sends even though she was still fairly straight and her nose touch still strong

When I attempted to just work on the mark portion yesterday I got this awfulness:


And sadly that wasn't the only rep I did.

Today I broke it back down more and went back to marking her cookie bowl.  That was pretty solid.  However I also saw that she's not completely confident on the duration portion.  Zumi moved that front foot and sometimes did her squeal on the release even with the short 5ft send.  We will stay with marking her a food bowl or a toy for awhile longer.  And maybe even add in a platform.

Wish us luck.

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Nala- Pivoting in Front

Nala, the service dog trainee, has been here longer than initially expected.  She passed her eval with me with flying colors and volunteered to keep her with us until another dog needed an eval.  She's my practice dog for Netta learning how to pet dogs nicely ;)

Since Nala is just turning 11 months old she's still very puppyish and even going through another crazy teenage stage right now.  A bit more testing on the rules at home than she was earlier!

We've been doing some training with her here of course.  Admittedly not a ton.  At least with Yummy I had more pressure since she was "in for final training" with me. Nala is just a pup still.

She has pretty good pivots to my left and right side now.  And I've mostly gotten rid of Nala's habit of wanting to come out in front of me to get her reward.  The dogs always have such a strong history of everyone always feeding them in front and hardly ever at the side!

So this week I started working on pivoting in front.  While Nala started out her pivot training in front of me, as I moved to pivoting at my side I always find the skill disappears.  The dogs get so excited about trying to pivot into heel that they aren't able to remain still in front even if I manage to get them there!

This was Nala's 2nd session with being re introduced to front position.  I am mostly trying to "catch" her with my treats to remain somewhat centered and prevent her from trying to get to my side.  Since Nala mostly gets rewarded on my left in heel position I try to focus my efforts on moving clockwise to have an easier time balancing out her movement.


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

Email: lkwaudby (at) gmail.com

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