Saturday, May 30, 2009

Productive Training Session

I laid two tracks at roughly 7:45 pm, one for Dustin and one for a puppy. I didn’t decide which puppy until later – the one I could get to lie down on hand signal/command with less fuss, which was Bruce, pictured.

At 8:30 (the earliest I could expect to have track scent stronger than trail scent) I took Dustin out to work, and he happily found the starting article by the flag to lie down on it. Though he seemed to need to think about his reward a little (cheddar cheese) and decide whether he liked it, he went on willingly from there. The turn I’d made went straight into the wind by the time we ran it, and Dustin indicted with a high head that he could find all the articles easily enough from there. I reminded him that “Track” meant “Work the line on the ground” anyway, and he obliged. Released from work at the end, he danced off, gave himself a play reward, and discovered the end of the puppy track. He scooped up the cloth glove, showed it to me just to prove he’d found it, danced in a crazy circle, and dropped it on the track again.

I love that he can tell when we’re not working anymore, and that he has such a tidy mind.

I took Bruce to his track next. This was his second. The first had been a mess; he forgot his down, panicked because he didn’t know what I wanted, and his sister ran over to take the rest of the game away from him. The object of the game at present is only to get him to equate discovering an article and lying down on it with reward. Last night, he discovered the first article and puzzled over it, then dropped readily when I asked him to. He sniffed out the second article on his own, natural line-follower that he is, and flopped. I was impressed.

We did both miss the fourth article of the five. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but could tell the scent was concentrated in the right sort of way, and fell all over the place, down here and there and everywhere, and I had a lesson in not using brown leather articles at twilight near brown leaves of similar size while working an inexpert tracker. Still, I expect the next time will be at least as good and possibly better.

Next time I’ll put another out for Wanda, just to see what she makes of it. She had an obedience lesson for steak scraps in place of a track this time. She’s become less grabby at long last, and so I can now get the basic positions (stand, sit, and down) and a passable heel, front, and finish. Of course, getting those without a handful of scraps would be something else again, but the patterns can be obtained and labeled. She’s clever enough.

Both of them are nimble for their age, possibly an effect of their wild first eight weeks. I’d love to start them on the safer bits of agility, ramps and step-over jumps, and they’d enjoy it. First, of course, I have to build the ramps. At present, they make up their own courses around the yard and over sleeping adult dogs.

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