Monday, December 15, 2008

Rusty's first obedience class

Rusty had his first obedience class on Friday and he did great! The class is to prepare for his first novice obedience competition. When he earns three legs he gets his Companion Dog (CD) title. By the time we're done with that he should be old enough to start in agility (although we're already working on contacts). In obedience class, we're working on the following:

- formal retrieve
- recall
- heeling
- automatic sit
- stay
- distance work

He did wonderful on everything but heel and automatic sit. I've never taught him heel, only loose leash walking (LLW). I guess all our foundation training with the other skills paid off!

To teach him heel, I'm standing next to a wall and clicking when he sits at my left side. Then resetting and trying again. Once he knows to come back and sit at my left side for a treat, I will add the cue "heel," and I'll start moving first one step, click for returning to heel, then 2 steps, then 4 steps, etc., doubling the number of steps each time. The automatic sit should come naturally, as any time I stop he should return to sitting at my left side.

I'll be posting video as we progress.

on the formal retrieve, I taught him this using a modified "tug." I clicked him for sniffing the dumbbell, then nosing it, then biting it. Then I began clicking for any resistance to a light tug on the dumbbell while in his mouth. This took several sessions to get the grip that I wanted and to extinguish the chewing behavior. The next step was to take my hand off the dumbbell entirely and click the second I removed my hand before he had a chance to drop it. After he got the hang of this, I added the cue "hold" and we built duration by delaying the click until I got him up to 20 seconds of holding the dumbbell in his mouth. Next we tried getting him to pick the dumbbell off the floor, then from a few inches away, etc. until he could retrieve it from across a room. I put a cue with each part of this so I can use them as separate behaviors. Now we just have to make the entire thing one cue for the whole behavior chain. I'll be using "bring it." video of finished behavior coming soon. Here's a video from when we first started adding the cue:

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