This week has been a quiet one on the training front with another spate of extreme heat in Perth. Tuesday and Wednesday were so bad I didn’t even bother going to training. So instead of our usual routine I decided to work on some distraction work at home when the sun had gone down enough to take the sting out of the day. Weavers were my obstacle of choice but rather than work on a full set of twelve poles we worked on six. Most of the distraction work revolved around me throwing or dropping toys while Sonic was weaving as well as having some of his favourite toys all over the ground. He did so well with those distractions that I added in a flexi tunnel right in front on Wednesday night. Sonic skipped off into the tunnel a few times before realising that he just had to weave to earn his toy. I think we’ll do that one again next week though to reinforce the behaviour being that dogs are often drawn out of weavers by upcoming tunnels in a trial situation. Then we finished up with some really hard angles from the tunnel into a near side weaver entry. Sonic did fairly well but it is a work in progress.
Thursday brought some relief with a wonderful cool change so I headed off with the dogs down to training to try get a bit more done than what I can do in the backyard. I started out with a simple sequence that involved quite a challenging weaver entry. By changing your handling you could have made it easier but that kind of defeats the purpose of what I’m trying to achieve so I ran it with a rear cross into a 90 degree entry just to challenge him a little bit more. I’m please to say that he hit the weaver entry like a Masters dog. Then we followed up with a really tricky sequence that required some very tight handling. That was much harder and really challenged a lot of us who tried to run it. I broke most of it down and just rewarded his handling through the hardest bits. Sonics contacts were pretty good. He skyed the A-Frame in his enthusiasm which was great but I wasn’t quite so happy with his dog walk. Mainly being that he was getting to just above the 2o2o position and stopping. To work through this I increased my rate of reinforcement when he got into position to help remind him of where he needs to be. I think what I really need to do is get onto some proofing of the behaviour. It’s been pretty solid so far but I’ve never really challenged him on it. Certainly nothing like the way I have been proofing his weavers. And let’s face it, it’s just as important. So I shall set up my piece of dog walk at home and work on building it back up again. Otherwise the behaviour will hold up for about five seconds in the ring.
On another front my big fluffy boy Riot has another upcoming commercial to do for Better Pets and Gardens. I’ve got a list of behaviours to train which shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Riot is such a funny boy. If I ask him to hold a toy or lead in his mouth, he will do it but it’s under sufferance. He will generally spit it out as soon as he can. However if I put the object that I want him to interact with in front of him and wait for him to offer me the behaviour I can have him picking up and carrying it around the house within a couple of minutes. Perhaps that’s why he doesn’t really like agility, because I didn’t give him a choice! I guess I’ll never really know but he really enjoys trick training and it’s nice to be able to do something with him that he can have fun with. The latest trick is him going to his bed and pulling a blanket up over him. It took me three sessions to get him doing it really well. He’s so enthusiastic about it he charges onto his bed, reaches around grabs the blanket and then yanks it over onto himself. All you can see is a blanket with a set of legs sticking out. It absolutely cracks me up. I still have another five weeks before filming but the way he’s going all the new behaviours should be pretty solid.