Thursday, 24 October 2013

Day 9

Day 9 was yesterday, seems I'm getting in a habit of posting a day (or two) late. But I'm still hoping to stick to it and not miss any days!! *fingers crossed*

Last night was Bennett's first puppy class. We had a class last week,  but it was just for owners. The class is held at the local vet clinic (bonuses: it is VERY close to my house, and Bennett gets to learn that she can have fun at the vet clinic!), and the trainer was recommended to me by a lady I met at a recent obedience trial. She is very pro-clicker, shaping, reward based, so that is good for me! The class is quite basic, however, and much of the time is spent chatting and doing ground level stuff that I have already covered with Bennett in the past week or so (loading the clicker, name recognition, offering behaviors, learning to relax, etc.). But that is fine, the instructor seems quite accepting of me working a little on my own when the other students are catching up.

Last night was a lot of chat about the basics, while the other students rewarded for their puppy offering downs on a mat. Bennett and I worked on some shaping of a "head down" trick during this time. We did do a "find my face" exercises, which really just highlighted how well all of our heel position work has been sticking! The idea is to turn your back on the puppy and click-reward for them moving toward your front. Little steps at a time, until the puppy is eventually coming around to sit in front and look at your face. Bennett kept getting stuck at heel position, sitting and looking at me there. It took some more effort to get her to step toward the front. In all honesty, though, I'm not going to force the issue that much. The goal of the exercise was to encourage the puppy to offer you focus and attention. I don't particularly want Bennett creeping forward out of heel position, and am quite happy if she wants to stop there and offer focus instead. I plan to train a "front" position separately, and focus is clearly not a problem for this puppy so far!! I think we are going to follow up on the "find my face" game next week, so my goal is to teach Bennett the "front" position by next Wednesday so that we have something to show for ourselves. Not exactly the game the instructor wants, but getting the same behavior and more conducive to my long term goals.

Bennett rocked the class during the puppy handling exercises. Touching the feet, ears, face, belly, giving kisses and checking teeth. She lapped it all up! Surely because of the plentitude of kisses she received as a wee baby!

The recall exercise was fun, and it really highlighted my background in flyball! While all the other owners used food and puppy voices for their recalls, I had Bennett's plush tug and yelled for her. Racing recall and LOTS of tug drive!!! Growly crazy tuggy praise = crazy fast puppy recalls! She was moderately distracted her first attempt by the very cute GSD puppy in the class. He had just finished his recall, and she thought him to be quite handsome as he walked past. They showed their mutual attraction during play time, where Bennett and Max the GSD had a rowdy and loud bout of puppy zoomies and chase time! New best friends, I think!

Needless to say, there was a VERY tired Sheltie in the house last night, and I didn't hear a peep from her all evening until potty time in the morning.

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