Carmen and I had ABC class last night. She is really coming along. Her whining during class has decreased. I think this is because the past two weeks we spent more time working on eye contact which is *somewhat* inactive on the part of the handler. I think she had more opportunity to scan, sniff, and be over stimulated. I also think the more work she does and the more she gets out and about the less freaked out she is.
This week in class we worked quite a bit on space, backing up, moving stays, and of course eye contact. Class runs between an hour and an hour and a half; last night both of our brains were toast by 8 pm (class started at 7pm).
Some explanations for those who read this and have never taken the ABC class.
What is the space game? The space game is understanding that space is a 50/50 proposition. Essentially our dogs have only ever been rewarded for coming INTO our space. Typically the only reward that we give them for moving out of our space is they don’t get stomped on or yelled at. So, in my mind I see the space game as a dance between handler and dog. It increases both creatures’ understanding of where their bodies are and what it means when they are in a certain positions, OR the message the body position might give. So, you reward the dog for coming into your space with a treat. You walk into *their* space and they move out – reward. As the dog gets the hang of the game, you change the criteria – now they need to back up in a straight line, etc.
The Space Game is great. It has multiple applications – agility, of course, but also loose leash walking, reactivity, dealing with distractions, pretty much any way you want to use it, it can be used. It is a basic skill that has LOTS of creative uses.
We also work a lot on backing up in the ABC class to increase a dog’s rear-end awareness. Often a dog doesn’t even consciously know they can use their rear. This knowledge is helpful with jumping. I remember when I took this class with Ike – all of a sudden he was easily hopping up on my bed, which is at least 2.5’ off the ground if not higher!
Moving Stays, ah….always something to confuse the students. It is a variation of the space game. You are going along with your dog beside you and you turn into your dog asking them for a moving stay, my cue is Wait. By turning into your dog you have closed the space – blocking their forward path with your body language. Katrin is going to post a YouTube video about this. When she does maybe I can link to it.
Considering Carmen has only had two days of practice between classes (that's all I could balance with Jazz here) she is doing smashingly! I can't express how different she is from Ike. Wild.
Last night when we were practicing moving stays under the watchful eye of Katrin, once Carmen *really* understood what I was asking for she was so obviously HAPPY! Eh, she’s a cool dog - a bit crazy, but cool!
I have also been bringing my car crate into the barn, so she is crated while we are setting up and breaking down equipment. I want Carmen to get used to being in a crate with things going on around her. I will probably bring her to a couple of the local trials in April to up the ante. My plan, at the moment, is to have her come with me in the morning and leave with John around noon (JPP schedule permitting). Last season, at the local trials John was kind enough to come and help me set up. He would stay and volunteer a little as ring crew in the a.m. and then leave around lunch. That could be the perfect amount of time to NOT cause Carmen to melt down!
At the end of class we went over creating a motivating toy. I have a jackpot toy of Ike’s and I have a rabbit fur jackpot tug. (A jackpot toy is a toy you can put treats into.) Unlike Ike, Carmen likes to tug! I am going to see if I can turn her into a toy motivated dog this week, well at least start to turn her into one!
Our homework is to continue working on eye contact, the space game, backing up, moving stays, and creating a motivating toy. That’s a lot of homework. The good thing is I do it with Ike as well! It has been a great refresher for him and he enjoys the one-on-one “play” after his Jazz-filled month.
4 days ago