Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On training for obedience...

I've been training training and training some more. Pixel, Brit and Leo are all in various stages of training for the obedience ring. So I try to squeeze in at least one session a day.

I typically train them all in the same session- and it is often a bit of a challenge for me. Switching between their personalities and needs is a lot of work. But it certainly keeps me sharp!

Pixel can work for long periods of time for one larger reward. She is able to switch between exercises and such quite easily and likes a lot of physical grabbing and tugging as rewards. Cookies bring her a bit lower than a toy- which brings out the best amount of drive. Especially for heeling. I normally start with her weakest thing and end on the easiest.

Brit is a softie and I need to always be sure that I am being clear about what we are working on. She is easily overwhelmed by challenges and would like to quit if the pressure is high. We work on short, fast bits of exercises. Rarely putting them together. Her rate of reinforcement is high- but super variable. I need to keep her guessing or she is the type of dog who thinks she deserves the reward and can sulk about it. The toy brings out the best- but it's a challenge to use it with her for heeling. She is so literal in her thinking that placement of rewards is super important for her- the toy clouds that a bit. I also need to be careful not to overdo my enthusiasm as it weirds her out.

Leo can work for longer periods of time but on one or at most two different things. He does not switch gears very well and struggles to change to something different. He can be a frantic learner so when I am teaching him something specific or mechanical I use food and a clicker as it tends to slow him down a bit. For heeling though we use a toy. For that I want pushy and in full drive mode so it works well because that's how he is when the toy is the reward. I have to be careful to not be too physical with the rewards or he gets careless and the lesson becomes about impulse control- not on whatever we started with.

All so different. And all so awesome. I love dog training!

I'm going to try and get some video this weekend of heeling. I love heeling. Teaching it. Training it. Watching it. Definitely one of my most favorite things.

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