Monday, October 10, 2011

Kipling's Training Journal: Part Six

Kipling is now 25 weeks old - where does the time go? At the trial last weekend (October 1st) Kipling measured 19.5" at the wither and weighed in at a super athletic 40.7lbs.
Kipling @ 25 weeks

Formal sessions have been pretty limited the last couple of weeks, informal sessions have focused on house manners, leave-it and conformation training in preparation for his first conformation show in the upcoming few weeks.

Stuff we've worked on in the last week:
Easy Button - One of my favorites I'd almost forgotten about! What I like about the easy button is that there are a couple of ways for a dog to succeed and the dogs really get to shape what the final behavior will look like. I thought for sure that Kipling would be a paw-pusher, but he was by far a mouth/chin pusher. Again, what he chooses for a behavior is not important for me, the process by which he decides which method to use is fascinating.

Around the cone - we've had half a session of this and it is what it sounds like. I put out a weighted or staked plastic soccer cone and I shape Kipling to go out and around the cone. I'll use this to add some distance on some of our other games, for now it's just a rainy day trick.
Kipling @ 24 weeks
His head is starting to change now and he's looking more mature.
Kinda makes me a little sad to see my puppy disappearing right
in front of my eyes.

One of the hardest things for Kipling this week has been settling. Kipling and Murphy have really bonded in the last few weeks and while I love to see Murphy upping his activity level, Murphy won't ever tell another dog to knock it off. Teller absolutely communicates 'we're done playing now' - Murphy will play (to some extent play the victim) as long as the other dog engages. The result is over-tired teeth clacking bitey face. I personally can't stand the clacky teeth part of retriever games. I'm not so worried about their teeth (though with Murphy's teeth that's certainly a concern) but the noise is like fingernails on a chalkboard - I can't stand it! So Kipling has had to learn a verbal settle/time-out cue - and of course Murphy has had to re-learn a verbal settle cue, because it does me no good to get the puppy in a down-stay time-out only to have Murphy wander over and entice him to play again.
Friday night party-boy...."Enough".

My cue is "enough" and I only give it once. After that, the offending parties (always Murphy and Kipling) are put into a down stay for a minimum of two minutes. After that they are released to do other things - sometimes a cookie. If they return to play I'll generally let them play for a minute or two, issue another 'enough' command and reward the break-off. This seems to have worked, the time-outs are down to about one every other day now (for which I am grateful!).

Last weekend Kipling mastered the down to sit transition. Sit to down was a piece of cake, stand to sit, stand to down - but wow, we really seemed to struggle on independent down to sit position transitions. I tried to capture Kipling's BOUNCE up into the sit and didn't get it on video (naturally). In the video he's anticipating the sit cue, I'll tune that out shortly, but for now I like the anticipation and eager student.

This weekend, while we were at the show I was standing ringside chatting and (admittedly) not paying a lot of attention to what Kipling was doing Kipling looked at me, then backed up to the a-frame (laying flat on the ground) and offered the prettiest 2o2o on the a-frame. OK, not exactly legal - but totally cute. I did pay him for the behavior and took a few steps away to prevent a duplicate offered behavior. Love the willingness to work and the desire to please.
Bitey Face!

I brought the plank out tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks. The next step for Kipling is to hold the behavior while he is tempted with other options. I think someone slipped Kipling the manual, because has he runs the plank, sticks the ending and I toss food just out of his reach he stretches and then looks at me with that same look Teller gives me when I'm proofing a behavior and he thinks it's silly. I had equal success with trying to lure him off the 2o2o, until I brought out the meatball - Kippie LOVES 'a 'da meat-ta-balls"! I successfully lured him off the contact - gave him an 'opps!' and put him back onto the plank (I spun him around and sent him onto the board - no physical putting back on boards or contacts around here) and tried again with the lure. Again the "proofing' face and he S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D for the cookie, but did not move those rear feet!
Hey Judy Jo, whatcha doing back there?

Also at the show this weekend - after we were done for the weekend and I wanted to get some additional pictures before hitting the road for home. Kipling had been in the van most of the morning and I wanted to get him out so he came with me and the camera and sat ringside while I took pictures. Laying at my feet - with some occasional cookies, watching dogs run, watching dogs tug and play - he was such a good spectator - very much at home at the dog show.

Things I've lost - Retrieving. I let this one slip almost entirely and the retrieving behavior has gotten lost when retrieving as part of a pack. There are a few objects that he retrieves reliably, but the rest - nah, you go get it. So I've got to go back to some play retrieves with silly objects. I'm also working a hold as part of that process - with the dumbbell. Only two sessions so far on hold the dumbbell - here's the second hold session - reasonably hard to hold the camera (iPhone) and work the behavior, but we managed :-)

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