Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Days 7 & 8

No time for writing last night, so I'll squish yesterday and today into a single post.

On Monday nights I teach a Bridge Obedience class for Breakaway Action Dogs in Frederick, MD. I normally take Romeo with me to demo the different skills we are working on. Last night I took Romeo as usual, but also left a bit early and took Bennett as well. I worked Bennett in the lobby area of the training building while the classes before us were going on. I didn't teach anything new, rather just focused on polishing previous skills in the new location. The building is purely a dog training building, so lots of fantastic smells! A puppy class was on at the time, so about 10 bouncy puppies as well. Bennett did really well with her sits, downs and "get in"s. She met some of the other trainers and students, and wasn't hesitant or shy at all! At this point of the game, because she can have a tendency to be hand-shy, I'm letting her approach whoever she wants (within reason), and even put paws up on them, so long as she is polite about it (ie. not pushy, scratching, or noise-making). Her "sit" is nice and solid, and she offers it readily, so once the confidence with other people is solidified, we'll work on sitting nicely.

A couple of surprises during the evening: 1) Bennett is not too thrilled about hanging out in dark corners. Okay, so that maybe isn't so surprising, but it came up randomly when a slightly reactive dog came in and we moved to give her space. We spent some time hanging out in the dark corner, exploring, and working on heel position. 2) Trains are super interesting, but not scary. This is good, not noise phobic at all! But very noise curious. She had to sit and listen to every train that went past. 3) Her sit-stays are really coming along, and it appears as if other dogs won't be much of a distraction! She held a sit-stay when a young Lab from the puppy class escaped and came for a visit. Good girl!

Tonight, Bennett had her first shaping session. We worked on laying down on her mat. It was straight shaping, with no verbal or body cues. It took a while for her to get started, but after a couple of minutes she figured out that the mat was the focus and was quickly moving to down on it repeatedly. She's picking up the idea of the clicker really nicely!

I have to say that Bennett's working style is not really what I am used to!! She is a crazy, loud, energetic, and bratty puppy. But when she is working she is very intense and focused. I'm used to kamikaze and skirting the edge of sanity. Bennett is methodical, but not slow. Very careful and thoughtful, but not to the point where she is reluctant or hesitant. For the down on her mat, I was clicking for a down, and then tossing the treat away to the side to get her to stand up and leave the mat. She would do a weird little Border Collie stalk away to her treat and back to the mat again. I could almost smell the gears turning, and every movement on her part was very precise. While it is certainly not a problem now, I will have to keep an eye on her to make sure that she doesn't start thinking "too much" and getting slow. At this point, it is lovely! But I can see pickiness on my part resulting in hesitancy on her part. Just something for me to keep in mind as we move forward. That said, there is some fantastic potential for really sharp work from her! She pays much more attention to detail than either Gio or Romeo do.

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