Go-outs. This week, Lacy did a few go-outs in the crating area at an agility trial. We were crated in a corner, and had a very protected aisle, with a wall on one side and friends' crates on the other. I placed a treat on the ground and sent her. Taking exercises the dog knows to different locations is an important part of obedience training. And since we were somewhere new anyway, it was a perfect time to practice go-outs!
New this week:
"Choose to heel" targeting. We took a private lesson from Julie Degen, one of Dawn Jec's assistants, and worked on some of the wonderful techniques Dawn advocates. The method is too complex to describe here, but I am ordering Dawn's book and hope to continue with this technique on my own, because, unfortunately, Julie is moving from our area. This technique puts the responsibility on the dog to find heel. When she does, she is rewarded.
"Come" and "get it." This is another of Dawn Jecs' techniques. Start with the dog on leash, preferably with the leash attached to you so that your hands are free. Toss a small treat a couple of feet away and tell the dog, "get it." The treat must be small so the dog can eat it quickly. As the dog eats the treat, take another treat and put it directly in front of the dog's nose, luring her around to her right, and say "come." With just a few million repetitions of this, I'm sure Lacy will understand the recall command!
Moving stand. This method requires two small treats -- one in each hand. I lured Lacy with the treat in my left hand, saying "let's go." We took a few steps and then I brought my right hand in front of her face, in the same position I will use on the Utility stand exercise. I told her "stand" as I fed her the treat. This is a neat way to teach a stand, because it is totally motivational and stress-free.
Go to table. I like to send my dogs to the table from wherever I might be standing, and have them do a quick sit or down. So this week, I worked on telling Lacy "table, sit" or "table, down" and making it a game to see how quickly she could get to the table and do either a sit or a down, in order to get a treat. At this point, I am not yet putting food on the table. I will do that later, after I am sending her through jump uprights, or through a tunnel before she does the table. We're not at the sequencing stage for the table yet.
Stretch. Lacy naturally stretches when she comes out of her crate. I am making the most of this by marking that behavior and telling her "good stretch." I always have my dogs stretch before running agility or doing obedience. It is helpful if they know the "stretch" command. I also ask them to weave between my legs, making sure that they stretch from both sides. I also do a little T-Touch massage before going in the ring.
Leadership. Lacy is a very independent puppy. While I am pleased that she has enough self-confidence to be independent, I want her to recognize me as leader. She likes to take toys and go off and play with them by herself. So I am limiting her access to toys. She has a chewie, a kong and a Buster cube in her exercise pen when I'm not home. When I'm home, access to her favorite toys -- like the flippy flyer and a stuffed skunk she adores, will only be available if she plays with me. I am the leader and I control the toys.
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