Monday, May 23, 2011

Seminar Day 2: Ball launcher, more work

In the morning, we introduced dogs to a specific ball launching product.... this one specifically, "The Cannonball." The presenters use it a lot.... not just for working and sport dogs, but also with pet dog clients! The actual product is fabulous, durable, high quality, the timing of the remote is great. Anything tennisball size works (chuck its!).

With several of the dogs, we used it for go outs. For the dogs working on the go part, we did a bit of introduction training and as soon as they would readily watch the box, we would set it up facing away from the dog, 50+ feet out... the dog would run to it, and before the dog slows down, the ball would pop out, away, and the dog would run faster to go get it. For dogs working on the behavior at the end of the go out (sit), we would have the dogs go to their target, sit, and then the ball would be launched back to the handler.

One of THE most interesting things was working with a dog where we did the above. It was decided that more reinforcement earlier on could be even more beneficial, so the Cannonball was set up by the sit plate, facing the wall...the ball would come out, hit the wall and bounce off. The dog really wanted to help himself to it.....

So we took the dog and launcher to the center of the room....and waited for the dog to look at it so we could launch the ball. The dog. would. not. look. We did NOT get a lot of reps. The handler tried using her visual mark she uses to signal go outs. She tried turning the dogs head, she tried tapping at the unit. The dog saw it as a training/proofing set up and refused to look, despite really wanting the toy. But at the wall? The dog tried to get it out. What ws the difference? The go out being less proofed (still in the early training stages)? Handler proximity? Unintentional cues?

It did make me realize it's good I've taught my dog to look away at things in the environment, on cue, and that I need to work on getting that behavior stronger and on better stimulus control.

The afternoon was spent working dogs, everyone getting another turn or two. Mostly it was more bite work. Two dogs on the self control and working while quiet (returning to a crate as soon as they make a noise). I definitely appreciate working on that skill as soon as it develops! It was fun to see the participants get more settled in, more comfortable with where they are and the set up and what we're doing. Some of the group is heading home, some are staying a few more days, and some are going to be staying the whole week. We have a few new dogs joining in today for the week of clinics (or part of the week). I can't wait to work Griffin tomorrow!

Two more points of interest:
- An emphasis on the right dog.... making it easier, more likely to succeed. Not that people should be replacing their pets or shouldn't work with the dog they have, even with less suitability.... but that putting in that early effort of the right dog, for those who are very very serious.... is just as worthwhile as putting in all the training time later. There was also talk about how hard this can be! Many of the people attending ended up having conversations at some point about how it's hard because the R+ crew won't just be replacing dogs, for most of us, these are (rightfully so,) our pets...but its all the harder in competitive circles --because-- we don't have as many dogs to work with.
- How great everyone is.... everyone is SO nice to each other and helping and all teamwork like and it's just great. A lot of the dogs need extra space and only one dog is working at a time, everyone is careful about this and polite and extra cautious and taking turns to run dogs in the back potty yard or when working inside. It's great!
- And despite a whole day of seminar...... teaching classes last night was still great. A bit hard because there were people watching, and some with video cameras... but I was able to focus and teach and the dogs did VERY well.
- Motivation: I'm waking up before my alarm and wanting to get up sooner (yet recognizing I really should sleep more). It's so great to be tired and sleep well and want to get up to train. It's dumb that this morning, when I have an extra's pouring rain and storming. We've done some work inside but I want to go OUT.... I was hoping to swim dogs so they would be tired all day! Being around people who are competing at high levels and taking their training very seriously is very good. I need to find more experiences like this.

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