Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Competition Obedience, Class # 1

On Monday I started a new class at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin, Competition Obedience: Novice with Esther Zimmerman. I am super excited about this class for a couple of reasons.

  1. I have heard great things about Esther from another Silvermist Schnauzer owner (Peg Walcott, owner of Otto and Willie) and from Katrin Andberg of Maplewood Animal Care & Training (my agility instructor).

  2. I think this will be really fun for both me and Ike! Seriously.

When I was dealing with Ike's fear reactivity I kept a really sloppy journal - more or less tracking good and bad days so I could see if we made any progress. After Monday's class I feel like it would benefit me to keep a training journal in some format, and since I enjoy Cat's blog so much I though I would copy her idea and create my own blog.

I think this class is going to require a lot of work from both me and Ike, and that's okay. I think I am going to come away with some improved training skills. Yippee! First class and I already have 3 new (to me) fun games that can be played with dogs or puppies and a new way to try and teach Ike to touch with his nose, not just his feet. Sigh....Touch. Currently the bane of Ike's existence!

So, my new class is a mix of two new to comp. obedience people (me and a girl with an Aus. Kelpie)and 4 people who are experienced obedience people but working with new-to-them dogs (Dalmatian, 4.5 mo Husky, Keeshond, and a Portuguese Water Dog).

The first exercises we did centered around name recognition (and I can not wait to talk to Denise and maybe use these at the shelter).

Exercise # 1: Drop a cookie, as the dog grabs it say his name. When he makes eye contact hand him a cookie and drop another. Repeat. Don't drop the cookie in the same spot; vary it. Very fun, but we are hindered by Ike's slow eating ( I am hoping the chiropractor will help this too!).

Exercise # 2: Dog is off leash, show him a cookie and toss it to the right of you. Dog scampers to grab cookie - when he has it in his mouth say his name. When he makes eye contact toss a cookie to your left. Dog races to get cookie, when he gets it say his name and toss a cookie to the right. You could feed your dog his dinner in the manner! Esther had a couple of good points. One is that this game can't be played that well in the grass. Two is that you need to make sure the color of your treat is different than the ground you are dropping it on. I think you could play this game well with a ball for a ball-motivated dog.

Then we moved on to Touch. Argh. Ike and I have tried so hard and have yet to master Touch. Ike is incredibly reticent to touch with his nose (and in general). For goodness sake, I just finally taught him to jump up on me!

So Esther had some useful recommendations. One of which, is just the way she teaches Touch versus the way I have taught it and tried to teach it with Ike.

Esther recommends starting the entire process by placing your hand about an inch away from/on the side of the dog's nose. Hmmm...I have always held my hand out in front. Having your hand that close and to the side makes it more likely that the dog will accidentally Touch your hand (and be reinforced). Alas, no go with Mister Ike.

I explained to her that Ike will go touch a plate, but still not with his nose. He does a play bow to it! She recommended purchasing some squirt cheese and whip cream. Placing a wee bit on the plate so that he has to lick it off. Next place the plate on top of my hand - same thing. Have him lick it off. Slowly make the plate smaller and smaller until he is licking it off my hand. Esther didn't explain how I will eventually transfer this to you all will have to wait with me! I can see where he begins to get more comfortable having physical contact with me he might then poke me if I didn't have his treat ready? We will see.

The other thing I will have to do is be more innovative with my treats. I only brought Natural Balance Turkey roll. Ike loves it and he only gets Charlie Bears at home so it is a real treat for him, but Esther feels like I should have some more exciting treats. We used SOOO many treats in class; I couldn't believe it. Ike is going to gain 10 pounds! I have gotten used to agility where I really don't use many treats. So next class I will be prepared with variety!

No comments: