Friday, June 7, 2013

Dang Smart Dog

Yep, I got me a dang smart dog!  Spice has a very good memory and I think I may have lit the fire yesterday.  Today we spent another 5 minutes on happy heeling and today she actually was bouncing on her front legs and wagging her tail!  Again it was only 3-6 steps at a time, but ya gotta start somewhere, right?
A couple of finishes thrown in and I think I know what my sticky point is on that.  When I am getting her into heel position I often us "get back" which she understands.  When I do the swing finish I've been using a "swing" command.  That is only about 50% effective without a hand signal.  Lightbulb moment!  I experimented using "get back" instead of "swing".  Updates on whether that ups our effectiveness in later posts.
I decided that putting off open training was just silly on my part.  This dog is not going to get confused and she gets as bored as I do with too much novice and repetition.  Today's sit,down,stand,down work was briefly reviewed and then I started giving her the down command from a distance.  Okay, so it was only three feet.  We tried it twice, she came into me on the second attempt and laid down.  No treats for that.  She did a slow down from three feet the next two times--PARTY!!  But of course I pushed and tried for one more.  Big mistake on my part!!!!  Collies do not like to repeat over and over the same exercises.  For reference see Bryce and his refusal to do jumpers with weaves or too many rally courses in a day.  Spice complied but I did nothing productive with that last one than confuse and piss off my dog. 
We took a short break and sat on the front stoop to see where her dumbbell retrieve is.  Again, I will admit that teaching the retrieve ranks right up there with heeling and the broad jump for me.  I have trouble focusing on it, why should Spice be any different?  Amazingly she totally remembered the clicker--what's not to like, click-treat-click-treat.  Spice gets it, I can see it on her face.  I hold the dumbbell. She poked the dumbbell right away and got a click-treat.  After a few of those I moved to waiting for her to mouth it.  She took a few seconds and then started putting her mouth on it. Click-treat.  Then I waited for her to actually take it in her mouth.  This took much longer.  I remember this part.  She mouths it, wags her tail, cocks her head and looks cute.  No click-treat for that Spice!  We got three really good take it in her mouth and we quit.  My hip started to hurt from sitting on the steps and I was almost out of hot dogs. 
I don't know what we will accomplish tomorrow.  Ben has a chess tourney and then we are going to the Germantown Charity Horse Show to see the big Grand Prix event in the evening. 
I would like to get out the jumps tho...

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