Friday, October 5, 2012

Busy life...

I cannot believe it has been a month since I have posted anything!

We are progressing in nosework, she is doing really quite well, showing obedience to odor. If we have multiple hides I have to space them in such a way that I have a reward area where we can play ball without her catching the next hide or she'll disengage from me and take off after it before I'm ready!

I was avoiding pairing hides very often, but on Melanie's advice I have started pairing hides more again and it definitely helps her drive for source. I am trying to work in drawers from time to time ala Andrew Ramsey in conjunction with our other training to help build up her obedience to odor and hopefully start the foundations of a focused response. Simply by launching the toy so it seems to bounce straight out of the odor she is developing a clear indication where her ears shoot forward and she dances her front feet. It has been hard to build up duration on the focus though because if it's unpaired she almost immediately looks back at me and sits andif it's paired she tears into whatever contains the toy...that's where the drawers come in. I can control access to the toy and I'm hoping that helps bridge the gap between self rewarding by snatching the toy out of a box or whatever and waiting for me to deliver it.

We have been taking our show on the road a lot. That is one thing I really love about nose work, the lack of gear I have to haul around. If I'm running errands I can do a quick hide or two in a parking lot or on the vehicle or by the building. It is really helping her reactivity...just today in the vet office there were several dogs in the waiting room and reyna was a bit nervy about the whole thing, it didn't help that I was just picking her up after being gone for a week. So as I started to run low on treats instead of just feeding them to her I would stick them around our little corner of the waiting area and when a dog cam in I would say Yes Go Get It (different than her "go find" cue in case you were worried) and she would hunt the treats. It worked a lot better than just feeding them to her. Whole visit and not one reaction or even a raised hackles!

We have also gotten back to the levels work and I am pleased to say that even with the long break she tested right through level 2 so we are working on level 3 right now. First thing is door zen and we're on step 3 - Dog waits one minute while you carry items in and out through an open door. My goal is for this to be without a cue of any kind. I thought this would be easy but like most duration behaviors for Reyna it is proving to be more difficult than I would have hoped. Oh well we are taking our time.

I have also started to work on Reyna's comfort level in small spaces...I have been feeding her dinner while she sits under my legs. At first I had to be sitting on the couch with my legs propped on a chair and she would just dart her head in for the treat and back out. Now she will lay on the floor and eat dinner while I sit on the floor with my legs resting on her and me petting her. Physical contact is very exciting for Reyna so this is a major accomplishment towards teaching her that touch can be relaxing.

With the progress she is making I am starting to revisit thoughts of therapy work with her in the future. That had been a goal of mine, but it went out the window when she started reacting to everything. Melanie, our nosework teacher, also teaches therapy dog classes, so in addition to a NW1 title, I would like to get her Therapy Dog certification as well. She may not have the temperament for the actual work, only time will tell, but just having the skill set to pass the test will be huge. At that point if she loves it great, we have something else to share, if she can't handle it that's fine to she will be a better adjusted dog for the work we put in to the training.

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