Camp was in Albany Oregon this year. As usual, Sherry and Jacques and Chimera and I went together. The location was the Lynn County Fairgrounds, which I loved because our hotel was just a minute's walk from the labs. I crated Cai in the car on the first day, since that's where he would be most calm and comfortable. The rest of the weekend was hot so I switched to crating in the hotel room. As far as I could tell he was quiet there, too.
He was reactive toward other dogs if they came right toward him, but that was generally easy to manage. He was also still reactive to the sound of dog tags jingling, and that's still a pain in the ass. We did a little practice crating in the official crating area. He didn't seem to mind me moving away, but I had to stay pretty close so that I could quickly feed treats after he heard tags. If I can just get him past that issue, I think that he would be fine in a covered crate during future camps.
In good news, he stayed focused the entire weekend, other than our final lab, when he just couldn't muster the energy anymore.
Here are my biggest take aways and exercises I need to do with Cai.
Figure 8 (obedience) with Hannah Branigan
- Use a pivot platform to teach the dog to come into your side, and then use a pivot/side-stepping motion to train moving into you as you go around a cone. This will transfer to an inside turn with lots of rear end movement into you, and good attention on you.
- For the outside turn, teach a sequence of you look at the cone, then cue a jump to your left hand, and click and reward the jump. Looking at the cone will become a cue to "power up" as the dog heels.
- I want to do both of these exercises with Cai.
Ring Ready (obedience run through) with Denise Fenzi
- We did a novice run through. Cai did better than I expected!
- He doesn't have any automatic sits in heel or front since I trained a default stand for rally-free and freestyle. So I just skipped those rather than cuing them, which would have added pressure and stressed him out.
- We skipped the touching in the stand for exam - the judge just walked by him. He still became nervous and stepped toward me. I definitely want to work on that.
- Denise told me that I have a bad habit of slowing down during heeling (which I didn't realize I did!) and looking back at him too much (which I'm aware of but is hard for me to stop doing). It was especially bad on the outside turn of the figure 8, which is funny because I KNOW not to do that and I've told clients not to do it multiple times. But that doesn't mean that I can always follow my own advice! She told me to look where I'm going.
- For the first half of the run through, I was too stressed to remember to be playful with Cai in between exercises. I did reward with food jackpots. When I realized that I should also connect with him socially, we both felt better.
- During the off leash heeling pattern, he started to look around and stress down, so I stopped in the middle of the pattern and kneeled down next to him. I pet him as he looked around for a few seconds. then I had him put his paws on my legs and we did our little "paw at each other" game. He recovered completely and we finished the pattern with enthusiasm. Woohoo!! That was a big victory for us.
Getting Ahead (agility) with Loretta Mueller
- Sending ahead has always been a weak point for me and Cai, and it really showed in this lab. I need to get in successful repetitions of me doing a clear send and Cai taking the obstacle ahead.
- It's definitely better when I follow Loretta's instructions to connect with the dog as he finishes the previous obstacle (see dog's feet land), then look at the take off point for the next obstacle, then repeat. (Feet, feet, feet!) Our runs are much smoother when I get this right. Not only does Cai follow my intended instructions better, but it feels less hectic on my end.
- I have a problem with disconnecting with him when I look around to make sure I'm not running into an obstacle. I need to turn this into a super quick peek taken as Cai is committed and performing the previous obstacle, and be turned back in time to watch his feet land.
- I miss doing regular agility practice so much!!
Use It And Lose It (training aids) with Julie Flanery
- Do the initial platform shaping with the platform in front position - saves time and helps dog orient to front position when the platform leaves.
- Before you remove your prop, you must place it on cue.
- Using multiple props for the same behavior makes it easier to fade them because the behavior isn't dependent on any one prop. (I think this is where a lot of people go wrong.)
- Let the props do the work, not your food/lure/body etc.
- Make sure to build plenty of value in the position you want - do that first, before teaching the dog how to get into that position. (Stationary position before movement.)
- Keep the picture the same when you're fading props. Minimize how much you have to move around as you're physically removing props. For example, do your platform fading sessions next to a table so you can swiftly pick up the platform and place it out of sight without moving your feet.
Fabulous Fronts with Julie Flanery
(I was late to this)
- Use your final cue as soon as criteria is reliably being met - even if you're still using props to make dog meet criteria
- Use a chute from gates to create straight fronts. Feed in center of your body. Dog comes to food rather than the food going to the dog's mouth.
Heeling with Denise Fenzi
- I walked into the ring and Denise immediately asked, "Where are you going to look?" "Where I'm going!" "Good girl. Start heeling."
- Denise had me do a bunch of wide right circles to practice looking where I'm going, and reward Cai for staying nicely in position. Apparently he did great. I couldn't tell because I couldn't see him. It was SO HARD. She asked if I could "feel" him in position and I really can't.
- We also did a little trouble-shooting on right about turns. He stays fairly close but I'd like him closer. I should do a lot of turning, then drifting to the right to pull him into my left side. This will pattern train him to stay close on the right about turn.
Heeling with Hannah Branigan
(Can't get too much of heeling!)
- Hannah had me practice the right turn and jump to hand touch exercise from her earlier lab (which I'd audited).
- She noticed that Cai was only pivoting left when I did a big ol' shoulder turn, and I need to minimize that. She suggested I go back to my disc work and get my footwork to cue the pivot rather than my left shoulder. Then I need step forward with my left foot in front of my right, heel touching toe, angled left. Click for Cai pivoting toward me without any other help.
Private lesson with Hannah Branigan
- Since I had already gotten a lot of help with heeling, I asked about a different obedience exercise: positions out of motion, for example the drop on recall. Here were the steps we worked through:
1. Test the stimulus control of the target behavior. If you hold completely still and say the verbal cue, does the dog immediately respond with the correct behavior? If not, train that first. Cai passed this test.
2. March in place and say the cue. Reward the correct response, and repeat. March just a little at first, then go into full-on goose stepping. Cai hesitated at first, but then caught on.
3. Slowly back up and say the cue. Reward and repeat. Cai hesitated, then caught on.
4. Increase speed of your backing up. Cai was doing great at this point.
- If you want to do it while heeling forward, start with slow forward movement, then faster.
- For the drop on recall:
1. Pick a spot on the floor that you can see but is not salient to the dog (ie seam in the rubber mats, stripe on the rug, crack in the sidwalk).
2. Toss treat behind dog. Dog will eat it, then automatically start heading back toward you. Click as dog approaches spot, then toss treat behind him. Repeat until the dog starts to slow and later stop as he reaches the spot. Cai got this faster than I expected. We had a hiccup when a treat stuck to my finger and landed in front of where he had stopped - then he resumed trying to come all the way toward me and we had to quickly rebuild the behavior.
3. Cue the desired position as the dog reaches the spot and slows to a stop. Click and toss the treat backwards. Cai was getting it.
4. Repeat with various distances.
- To get those varied distances, start off by tossing treats to various distances, and cuing the behavior right as he's finishing eating, before he starts coming back toward you.
- I asked about teaching the dog to drop as he's moving away from you (just to be extra fancy), and she recommended having a cone or target to send the dog to, but otherwise repeating the steps above. (Click as dog approaches spot where you want to cue drop, treat to reset.)
Distance (agility) with Amanda Nelson
- You need trust and confidence in other to get distance.
- Always help the dog. Step forward, closer to the obstacle, if needed. Don't just stand there yelling "go" or "out!"
- Reward at distance via remote reward or tossed reward.
- Think of a rubber band - the greater the distance, the greater the pressure.
Private lesson with Shade Whitesel
- I was so excited to have gotten a private with Shade, but I'd already had two private lessons just on heeling, and one on changes in position, and I had trouble deciding what to ask for help with. I came up with three things that I could honestly use help with: sound sensitivity, fronts, and pace changes in heeling. Shade said to talk to Amy about sound sensitivity (that's fair), and she didn't want to work on fronts without the ray diagrams on the floor a la Sue Ailsby, so that left us with pace changes.
- We did well when we went out and just gave a demo of our current paces. I'd never actually trained Cai to respond to pace changes; he just picked it up along the way. But when we demoed a second time, you could see that Cai wasn't totally sure on what to do, and I wasn't sure on exactly what pace to use for our fast and slow.
- Shade said the most important thing for me to do is give him more warning, and I can do that by doing a half-step differently right before I actually change. I need to practice this more sans dog so that I'll be smooth. (Practice with a metronome would be great for this.)
- If he lags, I can keep going and then reward by tossing food/toys forward when he catches up. The fact pace should be a canter.
- I need to slow down more on the slow pace so that he clearly downshifts to a walk.
- His normal heeling pace is a (happy bouncy) trot.
Confidence Games with Amanda Nelson
- You can use known tricks as an emotional barometer. Is your dog responding quickly and with enthusiasm?
- Cup game (use 2 clear plastic cups):
1. Place a treat under a cup.
2. Tip the cup over or pick it up as the reward to shape the dog to interact with the cup. The goal is that the dog tips it over himself to eat the treat.
3. Add a second cup without a treat. Let the dog figure out that he can use sight and/or smell to find the right one.
- Middle (dog goes in between your legs, facing forward) - good place to wait for your turn, and helps many dogs feel secure.
- Go to mat
- Knocking over tupperware to get food
- Wait and go (I didn't write down what exactly this is, I think it's self control and then release to reward?)
Agility match with Loretta Mueller
- We ran the course as if it were a trial. Then Loretta fixed my timing and made sure I connected and watched his feet land and gave good cues. When I got those things right, Cai ran beautifully!! I really miss doing agility regularly.
Rally-FrEe match with Julie Flanery
- There were only a few people signed up for this, and so we went right after we finished our 10 minutes of agility practice. Cai was tired out. He was still trying but he couldn't recognize some of the cues I was giving. I just did easy stuff and helped him out and gave him rewards, and we were soon done.
I love dog sports and I love my little monster. Can't wait to do it again next year! We should probably actually do some training and trialing in the meantime (Fast CAT not withstanding).