I’m getting a new puppy in mid-July and of course I want to be the best trainer I can be for the new puppy. With that in mind, I’ve been practicing mechanics and basic training with Dancer and Elly, for five or ten minutes every day. I’ve been working on walking and feeding in what Susan Garrett calls the “reinforcement zone” (the sweet spot by your side where your hand lands if you’re walking normally)–making sure I walk whichever dog it is on BOTH sides. I’ve been working on reinforcing basic waits. I’ve been insisting on attention from Elly before I take off her leash or let her out of her crate.
And I’ve been practicing my shaping skills with the clicker. Yesterday Debbie pointed out that working Elly on the Bosu ball would help her hip strength, and so we tried to have Elly put her back feet on the ball and her front on the ground. She would have none of it. Not interested. I got the clicker and got her to approach the ball, but really didn’t get anywhere other than some interest in the ball. I put her back in the crate and worked with Dancer, who is more open to trying things than Elly. It took a few minutes to shape Dancer to put her back feet on the ball. I quit there for yesterday.
Today I got several large handfuls of treats and got my Bosu out, and started working with Elly. It took fifteen minutes–a very long clicker session! longer than I’d do with Dancer, certainly–and suddenly she got the idea of putting her rear feet on the ball, and then was willing to stand up on her rear feet, holding on to my arm, to be fed treats. What that dog will do for food! The standing up was her idea, too. I gave her all the treats I had left when she did that.
Then I went on to Dancer. It only took a few tries and she was offering a nice two-on-two-off on the Bosu. The next goal was to get her to rotate around the Bosu, with her back legs on it, pivoting on her rear legs. It took a few more minutes to get there, but she did.
It’s interesting to me how much more persistent Elly is than Dancer. Elly will keep working and working and working–but trying the same thing over and over and over. Dancer will try something and quit pretty quick if it doesn’t earn her a treat.