Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beyond Basics #3

I haven’t been feeling 100% this week and as a result have been slow on the blogging front. Tuesday night Bug had his 3rd Beyond Basics class.

We worked on stays with distractions, loose leash walking with distractions, recalls with distractions, and leave it.

Joyce combined the stay with distraction and loose leash walking in an interesting way. She picked three handlers and their dogs and asked them to stand evenly spaced (not too close together) in the center of the room. She asked the handlers to put their dogs in a stay of their choice (down or sit). Then she had one handle/dog team at time come up and walk in between the handler and dog teams who were practicing stays.

Bug and I were in the first set of three and I was really pleased with how Bug did. He was definitely distracted and broke his stay twice. However, I felt good that I was able to see when he was going to break his stay most of the time and was able to help him out.

Bug did better than I expected with the loose leash walking. He actually stayed right with me and I rewarded intermittently. Given one of the dogs that he had to walk around is a cute Lab puppy he likes I was very impressed! On walks, if I say “Good boy” to Ike, Bug immediately drops into heel position and starts making eye contact. Ike’s “good boys” are frequently followed by a piece of cheese and Bug has obviously learned this well! I really need to put a different word (an actual cue) on it for Bug and use it – it is a lovely behavior he is offering.

In the next exercise Joyce put some delectable treats in a stainless steel bowl. Bug and a couple of the other dogs could NOT take their eyes off Joyce and the bowl. Joyce put the bowl in the center of the room and then told us we would be doing a restrained recall with the bowl of treats out there as a distraction. Gulp! Given that Bug is very food motivated to begin with, followed by the fact that he is on a diet, I didn’t have high hopes.

Joyce asked us to think carefully of how we would like to manage this exercise in order to set our dogs up for success. She said the only rules were that we could not stand on top of the bowl, we could not body slam our dog, and we could not yank on their leash to prevent them from reaching the bowl.

Beth restrained Bug and I choose to stand about 5’ away from the bowl – more or less in line with it, perhaps a little bit after it. I called Bug and he came flying to me. Surprise, surprise!!

Most of the dogs were not successful with this exercise – the bowl of treats was much too tempting. Joyce said if we were practicing at home she would recommend standing slightly in front of the bowl to begin with. I will have to ask John to restrain Bug and practice this at home. Recalls are something I worry about because we don’t have an opportunity to practice them a lot; or we do not make time to practice them!

The final exercise of the night consisted of loose leash walking while Joyce tossed a packet of treats on the ground. You used your “leave it” cue to hopefully continue on. I was really nervous about this exercise because I haven’t really worked on “leave it” with Bug and he needs a “leave it” cue badly!

The first time the packet was to tossed our side and Bug literally pretended he did not see any stinkin’ packet. On the way back he was more interested, I told him “leave it” and we had a moment of tight leash but not too bad. The second go round Joyce tossed the packet practically right in front of us. Bug was much more interested, but did “leave it” when asked.

We have a former puppy mill dog in our class and for that dog Joyce just left the packet on the ground. She wisely did not want to risk tossing something at a dog who isn’t 100% about people. I like and appreciate how aware she is of each dog’s history and personality.

I then brought a very tired and happy corgi home. He is really enjoying this class!


Diana said...

congrats on a nice job at class. I hope you feel better soon. Diana

Sara said...

That sounds like a really great class. Looks like Bug was a star pupil.

There is a an article abour rally-o in this month's whole dog journal. I'm looking forward to reading it, after your posts about Ike's classes.

Jules said...

Oh, I will have to look for the article. Rally is a lot of fun. You should check it out.

Blue said...

That sounds like an awesome class!