Spring is skipping us here in Maryland, apparently. It has been in the 90s all week! While I am glad that this means no more snow for quite a while, it also means I have to take more breaks when working outside.
Rugby started protesting the first day about the heat by not sitting, or sitting then popping right back up. I took this to mean the pavement was burning his reproductive organs! He is a baby though because when I realized what he was doing I took my shoes off to see if it really was hot and… it wasn’t. So I made him sit a couple times before we called it a day.
Since then we have redesigned our daily work schedule to accomodate the heat. Instead of one 45 min session a day, we are splitting it up into three 15 min sessions a day. Since it is hot and we are working on harder Utility exercises the three sessions will make sure I don’t fry his brain or his rear end!
His scent articles are very interesting. I THINK he is actually getting it. We took a break to focus on Open, then he was on drugs for his itching so it has been a while before we worked on them. We started last week again with a quick review of the beginning material to see how much he remembered. He has a good memory and we working mostly at where we were before now.
Yesterday we were outside and I made the first one easy. Yes! He got it. Moved on to the second one – not so fast! Yuck! He went for the wrong one. Third one he got right again. Fourth one…he actually got the wrong article in his mouth before I could stop him. I told him to spit it out and he did. I repeated the command and he looked at me like, “Are you kidding, I just had it in my mouth” So I told him one more time and he looked down to see the right article and brought it back. A light bulb clicked just then! I changed both articles so they were fresh and we tried again. This time he got THREE in a row right without any help from me. I was shocked honestly and stopped then.
Later that afternoon we took them out again. This time he wasn’t getting them right as aften but his way of working them had chaged. He wasn’t rushing out there to grab it like he does his dumbbell and I was able to stop him from getting the wrong one with just my voice. He was slower and more deliberate. He did get some of them right too, so I am taking this as progress. I interpreted his different working style as him actually thinking about what was going on this time.
I forgot to work them this morning and by the time I remembered we didn’t have anyone to scent the ‘other’ article for us so it will have to wait till this afternoon.
If you go back to the beginning of this blog when Rugby was still a puppy you will find post after post after post on me trying to get Rugby to stand on his own – and failing at it. He held a very nice stand stay, and as soon as my hand was on his side he would pop up without me having to lift him BUT that was as far as we could ever get. I ALWAYS had to reach down and at least start to place him in a stand before he would do it by himself.
The other day I was thinking about how Rugby has gone over a year now and STILL wont stand up on his own and it made me angry! I can teach him to all sorts of random things but I can’t teach him to stand?!
So I started playing around with ways to get him to do it on his own. I could not very well lure him into a stand with the touch command because I very specifically want him to stand by keeping his front legs in place and walking ‘out’ with his back legs from the sit. That would be counter-productive to this task.
A side note-
We have been working on backing up in heel position since that is a Rally exericise and although it would be fairly easy for rugby to back up in heel position it is not so easy to get him to do it without sitting once he got there. So without thinking about it effect on the stand I started last week rocking my weight back on my left foot, giving the back command and as soon as he moved backwards just one step releasing him and running forward ( to prevent the sit). Today we were backing up two steps and running forward.
Then it hit me – if he backs up from a sit, I will be getting the correct stand motion from him, and with the “back” work we have been doing he should be able to resist the temptation to sit. To help him out I looped the leash under his belly so if he went to sit I could catch him without having to bend over. Then I remembered when we first started articles transistioning from fetch to find through a combination of the two words.
This time as I began to back up with my left foot I said “backstand” and had to hold his back end up with the leash (since he was convinced he needed to sit). I told him he was really smart and we did it again. And again. And again. Then I focused on fading out the “back” and the leash. By the end of our session I could say “stand” and move my left foot back just a smidget and he would stand up – ALL BY HIMSELF.
Phew how long did it take us to get to this point? I imagine just a couple more days of this and I won’t have to move my foot anymore either.
Sorry that was so long and boring, but how could I keep that to myself?!