Posted by: allstaragility | March 11, 2012

My Muddy Monkey has some skills!

Oh, how I wish I would have had the camera with me yesterday!  It was such a beautiful afternoon that I loaded all 5 in the car and took them for a long romp at the Pet Ranch’s private dog park.  It was fun to see several of the dogs who have been taking my agility classes and they all had fun running amok.

Many people hate off-leash dog parks and I am certainly not a fan unless I know the other dogs there aren’t going to be a problem, especially with a puppy.  Once I knew that none of them would be too rough, C-ya was allowed to join in the fun.   I like structured play by using all the distractions to practice recalls, impulse control exercises and basic obedience skills with all the dogs.  C-ya did a great job recalling from play and working some other skills amidst the excitement.

The park has a ditch/stream running through the middle of it that right now happens to have some water in it; really just enough to make it muddy.  Somebody showed C-ya the joy of running the full length of it splashing the muck all over the place.  She was one muddy little monkey dog!  The ranch has an enclosed pond adjacent to the park and the guys have done a wonderful job making it user-friendly for the dogs.  They have lined the edges with large rock so the dogs have a step system in and out of the water and one corner has a sand/rock entry so the dogs (and owners) don’t get muddy.  It was such a nice enough afternoon that I decided to let the dogs have a little swim and see if I could get the baby cleaned off.

To my amazement, C-ya dove into the water right after Zoom and Solei and I think she was a little surprised that it was so much deeper than the ditch!  She swam, got out, and proceeded to go right back in.  I guess she is a water baby!   I am looking forward to using the pond more as the weather really warms up to exercise the dogs.

I am overdue for a training update!  I thought I would to try to “itemize” the skills I have been working on with C-ya, however that is quite a task since everything we do is training of some sort…  Here is the list I have compiled so far.  Some items are pretty solid, others are works in progress.

  • Name response: Turn and look at me when I say your name.  Working with lots of distractions.
  • Recalls: come to me for a reward.  Mostly, this entails coming into heel position on either side.
  • Hand targeting: while walking, from different positions, after tunnels.
  • Sit: from standing and down positions at front and also at side.
  • Down:  in front and at side.
  • Scooch: move backwards
  • Wait: Remain in position until released.
  • Release cues: OK, Go (into obstacle/reward focus), Here (release into handler focus).
  • Heeling: on both sides
  • Place: Start-line routine to set up between my legs.
  • In- moving hind end into heel position
  • Left and Right turns.
  • Impulse control exercises (tug-sit-tug, ready-steady-stay, etc).
  • Retrieving toys
  • Wrapping around cones
  • Nudging door/drawer closed with nose.
  • Mark- place front feet on a target
  • Feet- place hind feet on a target
  • Shake and wave.
  • Bow (or stretch).
  • Sit-up
  • Box (putting all 4 feet in an increasingly smaller box).
  • Mini-teeter bang games
  • Tunnels (more like working focus skills around tunnel and then sending to them as a reward).
  • Crate games
  • Going to lay down on her bed
  • Learning to get on and immediately down on a low table
  • Jungle-gym games with baby dogwak, planks, physioballs, BOSU ball, paw pods, skateboard, wobble board, etc.
  • Patience going through doorways- sitting and waiting to be released to follow me through.
  • Introduced to the Manners Minder remote treat dispenser.

I know I have to be missing some things, but this is a pretty accurate list of the main skills we have focused on in our training time.

It is fun to think how she compares to Solei at this age.  Overall I think C-ya is definitely more bold as she tackles everything head on while Solei was one to sit back and think about how she should approach a situation.  C is much less patient when she is in a hurry to complete a task.  We have worked on impulse control and she is very good at those exercises, but has no problem vocalizing that she wants something now!  I think Solei, at this age, retained things a little better, but I am pretty sure that is because C-ya is in a hurry to get it done and tends to just throw herself into it without processing it first.

C is a much more independent, free spirit. She has her cuddly moments, but she is way too busy to sit still very long.  While Solei could stay focused on a task for a long time and take more repetitions in our shaping sessions, C-ya gets bored with it after a while (especially if it doesn’t involve a lot of movement).   I have to mix more play time into rewards to keep her interest.   That said, if it is something she has her mind set on, she is very tenacious about it!  I have to watch her as she has a very little consideration of self-preservation (very different from Solei).  You have to be careful getting caught-up in comparing dogs, but I think it is important to recognize differences in how you approach training and appreciate what makes them so unique.

What a nicely put together puppy. I love her structure!

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