We have now completed one of our puppy classes, with the other due to finish next week. Falka has been a star pupil, with most of the exercises almost being reliable on cue. These behaviours are mostly pet dog behaviours – but for now this is what makes our life together easier. We have covered:
- Changes of position – sit and down are now on cue, although we need to work a bit more on generalisation. Stand is almost there… It works well from down, but sit/stands are still a bit iffy. Definitely not cue-worthy yet!
- Leave! – this is one of our favourite exercises. We have used the It’s Your Choice Game for this, which we have practiced from very early on, and the results are great. She actually turns her head away when presented with kibble and told to leave it… We have built it up so that she can leave a treat gently tossed on the floor in front of her.
- Loose leash walking – as Yarpen, she is generally very good at that. I am pretty consistent at not letting them move forward if they pull and that seems to work well, so this exercise didn’t cause bigger problems.
- Touch – We have started this early on, so the beginnings were quite easy… until we started moving! I was a little stuck, as Touch is one of those tricks/commands which usually comes really easy and dogs tend to enjoy it. And yet, when I would start to move, Falka would lag behind and show no great desire to actually make contact with my hand. Initially I thought that I need to go back a step and increase the reinforcement frequency and/or value for stationary touches. But, while I did that, I also raised the criteria for the actual touch. When before I would be satisfied with a gentle contact between her nose and my hand, now I was asking for a push. Then for some duration. And… voila! It seems to have sorted the issue with movement too. Now her devotion to the touch is very good and I can both lead her on a hand target (without a treat in hand), or ask for a couple seconds of a strong sustained touch.
- Stay – we have two different methods for down stay and sit stay. With down stay we are now well over a 1min without reinforcement, after which I took her to 2mins with a few treats in between. She could probably stay for a bit longer, but I didn’t want to push it too far. We haven’t done any distance work on down stay yet. With sit stays we don’t have much in terms of duration, but we have practiced adding some distance (about 2m) and some very mild distractions.
- Weave between my legs – a trick which we prepared as a homework, but I never put it on cue and will probably leave it here, as soon she will be too tall and long to be fluent with this.
- Switch sides behind my back – very useful trick which I have never really trained with Yarpen, but might just give it a go with Falka!