Yesterday I spent a lot of time digging through my archives, filling up my new Favorite Posts page. I was reminded that I used to post a lot more specifically about what training we’re doing. I doubt that I’ll go back to the weekly routine from those early days, but here’s a snapshot for right now.
We have kind of a lot on our plates, because I got grabby hands with some of those awesome new online courses I mentioned. What can I say, Silas loves training, and I’m most motivated to work with him every day when there is someone, however distant, telling me what to do.
We’re working on three fairly new behaviors right now.
First, target. As in foot target, rather than nose target. I talked a little about this last week. It’s just a basic run over and stand on that spot kind of thing. I thought he had this one down. Then I realized that he doesn’t know the verbal. I was saying the verbal and instinctively pointing, and he was reading the point. I need to write this Sue Alisby quote over and over like “I will not chew gum in class.”:
When a good dressage rider goes through her routine with her horse, she appears to be doing nothing. Her hands barely move, her body barely moves, and any words she says are whispered. This is the ideal for dog trainers as well – quiet hands, quiet bodies, and quiet mouths. Concentrate on what your hands, body, and voice are saying to the dog. He’ll learn faster and easier when he’s not distracted by extraneous motion and noise.
Next is the classic sit pretty which Silas was never capable of doing. I couldn’t even get him to understand what I wanted. Then I tried again last week, and he’s doing great. Which is awesome, because sit pretty is a great core workout for dogs. (I wonder, in hindsight, if his musculature just wasn’t developed enough for it.) I had to use a lure to get him into position, and now I’m afraid I’ll never be able to fade it. Wish me luck.
Also bow, which is one we’ve played at learning several times before, We’ve never gotten the behavior completely fluent, in part because “Bow” and “Down” are such similar cues that Silas legitimately can’t tell them apart. We’re calling it stretch this go around and having better luck.
During playtime, we’re working casually on doing the cue I ask. Silas is an old pro at doing a behavior before I give him back a tug toy or the like, but if I use a cue he is obviously guessing. He’s old enough to know the difference between sit and down, even when he’s excited. So now if he does the wrong one, I keep the toy until he fixes it, or we reset and try again, depending on context.
So that’s what’s going on around here this week. I wouldn’t recommend teaching this many things at once if your dog doesn’t love it, but Silas is thrilled.
I forgot to snap relevant pictures, and Silas is sleeping like a baby. Instead, I’ll end with this random cuteness that you saw yesterday if you follow me on Instagram.
And yes, I trimmed his nails right after I took this. Yikes. That’s what you get if you never walk on pavement.