Friday, August 13, 2010

Control Unleashed, Week #3

Last night Bug and I had our 3rd Control Unleashed class. To begin class we worked on some body work on our mat. Bug definitely does not view his mat as a place to relax yet. He thinks “Target mat, what’s next!?”

After everyone settled in we practiced Whiplash Turns. As S suggested I am incorporating eye contact and Bug really seems to get the game. What he appreciates about almost all the games is how quickly he’s released to chase a treat or be rewarded in some other manner.

Then we took Whiplash Turns on the road. As with most classes people tend to sit in the same spot every week. S had us move counter clockwise to our neighbor’s location, practice reorienting and then play some more Whiplash Turn. Bug had a difficult time reorienting at first because there was another dog’s mat to smell. What a great training opportunity!

After Bug finally reoriented, we played Whiplash Turns before we moved once more and worked on our default behaviors. S suggested practicing more than one default behavior. I thought we were only supposed to work on one, so I will have to clarify that with her. Bug and I worked on downs and sits. Bug’s sit has improved so much – I am really pleased.

The next exercise had one dog go into the box in the center of the room and practice default behaviors. The dogs outside the box did a variety of things depending upon how over threshold they were. I think most of the dogs practiced whiplash turns. When Bug was in the box he was a bit slow to down. I think he was distracted by the other dogs. At one point I asked him for a “down” and he sat. I asked him for a down again and S suggested I just move away and ask for the behavior again. Funny, I will have to think about whether that is a habit of mine or not. I can’t say if it is something I do regularly or not. If it is I should work on changing it!

When Bug was outside of the box we worked on heeling by the box, and rewarding for attention. I really think I should take a Rally or Obedience class with Bug. I think he would enjoy it.

Next S introduced the Off-Switch Game and Bug got to be the demo dog! I think this is because we were already familiar with the game, we remembered to bring our own toy and, perhaps most importantly for demo purposes, he is happy to tug in front of people. The Off-Switch Game is when you play tug with your dog, ask them to release the toy, and then follow that with a behavior. As soon as your dog performs the behavior you go right back to playing.

S asked us to do this in the box and Bug was excellent. Bug stayed in the box while the other students worked on Look at That. A dog playing can be very stimulating! When other dogs were in the box S had us keep playing the Off-Switch Game. I could tell Bug was getting tired and I wanted to stop before he became completely disinterested so I asked S if we could do something else. She had Bug practice Look at That while the hyper Golden was in the box. Very good choice!

We ended the class working on Parallel Walking. S and her assistant set up obedience ring down the center of the room. The goal was to walk side by side with another handler and dog team alongside the gating (gating divided the two pairs) and then turn and walk the other direction. Bug gave me such amazing attention! He is such a corgi – he knew I had food and was rewarding for attention. S asked me if I would mind walking Bug with the other students. I said no problem. Bug seems to be the dog that is really working way below threshold so I am happy to help.

S mentioned that we should think about taking this on the road. For example, if we have a neighbor who has a dog who barks as you walk by, actively work on maintaining attention, don’t be lazy. I had the perfect opportunity to practice this on our morning walk. A young male Cairn Terrier lives in a house on one of our walks. The last few times we have walked by his house he barks out the window like mad. Ike whines and Bug kind of bounces while staring at the house – totally not paying any attention to me. Today I worked very hard at maintaining Bug’s attention and he was as good as he is in class once he figured out we were working. Very cool!

I will probably practice attention with him by walking down to the house where the reactive Wheaten Terrier lives (on an invisible fence). She has dive bombed us so many times that Bug gets juiced just walking that direction! I will not walk that route in the afternoon (when she is typically out unattended). However, since he has been conditioned to be on high alert to his surroundings and not the momma when walking that direction it is a great chance to work on these attention exercises. I won’t do it when Lily is out though (that’s the WT).

Overall it was a better class than last week. We spent much less time stuck behind a barrier and while Bug does seem to be operating way-way below threshold, it is firming up the skills for when he is thrust into a situation that is closer to his threshold.


Kathy said...

wow, that sounds like a much better class, sounds like Bug is really doing well.

Kathy said...
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Blue said...

I'm glad that this class was better than last week's. Do you think the reason dogs are spending so much time behind barriers is because Sue has been running the class and not Emma? Or are the other dogs in class all fairly reactive?

When I took the class with Iris, there was one reactive BC who spent a lot of time behind a barrier but none of the other dogs ever did. But we had a fairly even split - two reactive dogs (Iris and the BC) and three non-reactive dogs.

Nat said...

I wish we had a CU class around here!! Sounds like a really good class!