Just back from our third week of class. Treasure must have recognized the training room because she promptly situated herself between my feet under the chair and laid down. I've been rewarding her for lying quietly during lecture time, and she laid down right away and was sniffing the air for her treat. She stayed lying down until it was time to start working with our dogs with only a few treats here and there. It's important to place the treats on the floor between the dog's front feet, so they stay lying down. If you feed the treats from up high, the dog will tend to get up. By keeping their focus on the floor, they will learn to stay down and wait longer and longer periods of time for their treat. Because Treasure can't see me putting the treat on the floor, I lightly tap her front toes as I place the treat on the floor. She learned very quickly to sniff the floor between her feet when she feels the tap on her toes.
The other people in class worked on things that require sight, so we practiced sit, down, all done, come and walking next to my left leg. Her downs are great and she will do them from a sit position with my touch signal. I am starting to introduce her to lying down from a stand. Sometimes she does it easily and other times she can't seem to understand. Her sits get better all the time. Because of her spinal issues, I think sitting was not comfortable for her, but as she gets more limber, she seems to sit quicker and quicker with my touch signal. I noticed that she seems to sit quicker in some positions around me than others ... interesting since she can't really see me. But I think perhaps the touch signals feel a bit different depending upon which direction I reach to touch her from.
With any dog, it's important to teach the same exercises in many different circumstances and positions. A dog can very easily learn to only sit when it is in the kitchen and its person has food, and no place else! So I don't know why I expected it to be any different with a b/d dog! Silly me! So this week I will focus on asking Treasure to sit on my right, my left, in front of me facing me, and facing away from me, with me sitting on the floor and with me standing up, or even on my knees.
Treasure is doing great with turning towards the direction I blow on her from. We just started introducing directions last week and she will walk several steps towards me from whichever direction I blow on her from ... to get her treat, of course! She loves to eat! I can now take several steps with Treasure staying next to my left leg with barely a wiggle of the leash. She is starting to cue off my leg more and the leash less. I am still treating after each step mostly, but I am just beginning to do two steps in a row for one treat. This week I will add some slight turns and maybe even a sit by my leg if her sits are going well otherwise.
The class started a wait cue to tell the dog not to proceed through an opening, like a door, or not to rush out of their crate. I will have to ponder how to proceed with this. I don't want to be too quick to say that I can't teach Treasure something or that I don't need to teach her it. I think this will be one of those situational cues, where I can teach her to wait at home in areas where I know I don't want her to go without permission. So I will give this some thought and try some things out this week. I enjoy having a training challenge to think about.
Other things like chasing a tossed treat for attention games and hand targeting are probably not things that I will teach to Treasure. Yes, she can target my hand very well, but it's just because it smells like roast beef! Then she gets confused as to why she can smell the food but it's not there. Not a very fair trick to teach her. Speaking of tricks, I have started to teach her a couple different ones for graduation. We have just started each of them, so I will see how they progress and then we will pick which one we will focus on to show off with.
I'm very pleased with how quickly Treasure is learning new things and with how eager she is to stay engaged with me during training sessions. I only wish I had more time to work with her! I wonder just how quickly she would progress then! Oh, I bragged about a naughty thing she did this past week. The rest of the class didn't understand why I thought it was funny, since they all want their dogs to STOP stealing food! But while I was eating my hoagie the other night, she came up and started pulling the paper wrapping off my lap! At first I grabbed the paper, thinking it was just slipping off my lap (I was eating it on the couch), but then I saw that she had the corner of it in her teeth and she was slowly pulling it off my lap. It smelled like food and by golly, she was going to get it! Funny to me, because Treasure has not really played with toys or other objects yet. It was funny to see her starting to experiment with problem solving and how to get something she wanted. It's fun to see her personality starting to show through as she feels more and more comfortable here in her new home.