Thursday, August 27, 2009

and then, this morning

She was completely cool with the new commands again. Maybe it was just a morning grumpy thing.

One of the things they required in the class was a pouch or apron to put the treats in. It works pretty well, but I'm beginning to wonder if the dog would associate context that she only has to listen when you're wearing the pouch. Similar I guess to not having food in your hand. It's like a catch-22. How to reward without having a a reward on you.

Also, I cooked the chicken, so that will be ready for next week.

Finally, I'm pretty sure she ate some squash from the compost that I dumped there after it went bad. I guess I'm either hoping it was a raccoon, or going on the premise that it didn't actually look really bad yet - I just knew how long it had been in there. She seems to be suffering no ill effects.

Maybe I should try summer squash as treats...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

first day of class

Class was a mixed bag.

We started out all sorts of wrong, with Kumi running and pulling like never before all around the yard. The actual class was in a soft dirt arena, and she completely has better traction than me in there. For a moment, I was all but waterskiing behind her.

But, she did calm down, and was pretty impressive for most of the training. We worked on look at me, and touch my hand, and she was very quick to pick them both up. Model pupil level of quick.

Then it got long and boring, and she wanted to look at the other dogs, or, you know, somewhere other than me. We tried walking it off out in the yard again, but that just triggered the same crazies as when we arrived. Never really got focus back after than.

Also, she completely got sick of the treats. Sniff it on my finger and walk away sick of them. We were going to cook up an extra chicken breast and cut that up for treats, but dinner plans changed and so all we had was cheese and hot dogs. Honestly, it seemed like her stomach was a little off in general - she was much more hesitant with her dinner when we got home than usual. I've already saved some hamburger for next week, and we should have chicken too.

Then, this morning, it was like she'd never heard of this 'touch' thing before. 'why the heck is your hand in front of my face'. At the time, I figured it was just because it wasn't part of the morning routine and she was grouchy about having to come in from the yard. Thinking about it now, it might have helped to do a few rounds of the charging thing before asking her to work for it, since that's how we started the class. Make my hands smell like cheese and all. She did manage to do sits and downs, which is what we'd previously been asking for when she gets fed, so maybe it is the routine thing after all.

So, there's that. I'm hoping we do some work on leash manners sooner rather than later, because she's embarrassing in their yard, and I'm not sure how to stop it. She gets completely uninterested in treats. She'll sometimes check back in with me a little (flicking her ears, or sometimes glancing back) when I ask, but I don't know how to reinforce it. Even if I toss a treat up to her, she almost never looks down and eats it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

brushing as a training strategy

I may have mentioned that Kumi is a somewhat fluffy dog. Thankfully, she tolerates brushing, because it would need to get done one way or another, but it is not her most favorite thing by any stretch. I recently came up with a way to make some lemonade out of the situation.

One of the things we are trying to teach her is to sit and wait until told to go through a door. This was proving a bit hard, as all our doors have windows, and she was quite content to stand there and look out the window for a *long* time. Going through the door was a good reward when you got to it, but looking out the window was fun enough that she didn't see any need to do what you said in the meantime. She could just wait.

So we put a brush by the door. She has the choice between standing there looking out the window and *being brushed*, or doing as told and getting to go outside. This is speeding the learning process significantly. She now offers a sit as soon as you walk up next to her, and is getting better on the stay.

I want to reiterate that this isn't retributive brushing, or anything intentionally uncomfortable. It's just getting the tangles out, which would have to be done at some point anyway. We just timed it strategically.

Other training issues are she seems to have learned 'sit' as 'come over next to you and sit' I'm not sure how to re-generalize it to 'sit wherever you are' but for now there are other fish to fry.

We've gotten lazy about the leash walks since we got the fence, preferring games of catch and chase. Her leash manners are regressing. Particularly on the regular collar. It sucks.

On the positive side, well, the door manners are good, but she's also got a pretty good grasp on down now. She knows it a lot better from M than from me, and mostly only knows it in the kitchen (and not, for instance, when she's standing in front of the tv), but still, good progress from 'I have no idea what that means'.

Also, we have our first (no dogs) session of training class this evening. I am inordinately nervous.