Sunday, August 07, 2005

Playing catch up

My plan to log in something every day was stomped on by the untimely demise of my computer hard drive.

To bring things up to date, Sanity now has a wonderful recall. She will actually fight to get past all sort of distractions, from other dogs intent on stopping her to a sea of legs all belonging to strangers. Food offered, toys tossed, nothing stops her head-long flight as arrow straight as a 14 week old pup is capable of, she hurdles in my direction once she hears the magic words "Sanity, Come."

Come is understood to mean find my toes and look at my face. Yesterday while demonstrating the location of come, Sanity unerringly aligned herself with her large, front puppy toes touching my toes and her rocking back into a sit so she could see my smile. Twice students ended up saying, "Oh, I didn't realize THAT was what come meant."

It is sometimes so hard to not respond with, "What? You mean you thought your dog was supposed to fly to the moon when you said come?"

I actually started teaching the sit last Saturday. At this point she will sit every single time as long as she is: a) no more than 4 feet from me; and b) she isn't over tired. (Note to self: Don't expect even 50% compliance when she is helping out with the third lesson of the morning.)

Last Monday (8/1) she was introduced to the placeboard and demonstrated the beginning of a place command. By Saturday (8/6) she was not only demonstrated the beginning stages of the place command, but had moved on to demonstrating the change from placeboard to negative space and leaving handler's side to travel 4' to the negative space when the "Place" command is given. Staying in said space for more than a couple of minutes or so is still in the works.

Yesterday, (8/6) was the day I started introducing the stand. Of course, this also gives me a chance to work on heel and sit with the addition of the "Exercise Finished" movements. It has been some time since I last taught a pup to do a formal stand. I am finding that my back may not be up to it, so looks as if I will be taking a side road at this point. I will continue to place her in a stand each day. I just don't plan on focusing on it the way I have in the past.

Instead I will add the baiting and free-stack training that will give me a pup/young dog who looks good in the show ring and at the same time will still learn the fundamentals of the stand enough so that when the time is right I will be able to turn that just for pretty stand into a useful working stand and brace.

Choices. The door is standing open. The yard is full of boarders all doing all sorts of interesting things. Where does Sanity chose to be? Stretched out on the floor right beside me. I get up to go do something in another room and she gets up and trots along behind me. This sort of interest is at once both flattering and worrisome. Will I have enough foresight to make sure she has no chance to be come over-dependent on me?

Now I am back at the computer typing away. She is laying on top of my feet. Squeak! Crackle! Crunch! Under the desk while the Sanity puppy body is resting comfortably on top of my feet the Sanity mouth, full of sharp puppy teeth is testing out the possibilities of chewing on a portfolio laying on the floor. I push the *T* *T* *T*button on the remote. She stops munching on the corner of the portfolio, takes a sample chomp on my big toe (OUCH!, I yell with some conviction) and she decides a nap is what is really in order.

Almost forgot the Thursday evening classes.

The first Thursday class after only having been with me a week was not only educational for her but also for the entire class. I used the time before the class started to just stroll around the training room and give her a chance to check the place out. Every so often I would *T* and simultaneously say "Sanity, Come". This would be followed with smiles, voice praise and some small guidance via the use of the longe line to help her come to me. Since I wasn't actually teaching the class it meant I was able to sort of play around with her along the edges. She was the distraction for all the other dogs during the stays. She chased and generally got in the way of the others during the time recalls were being practiced. Finally she helped me demonstrate how you can "hide" in a crowd and teach a puppy to actively seek you out by checking each and every single person until they find you. She went home a very tired pup.

The second Thursday it was my turn to teach and so Sanity ended up tied to my waist while I taught. She helped demo the start of the distance sit command and showed off what her new recall now looks like. It's a good thing she doesn't weigh very much yet, because she wants to travel in a straight line when responding to my call. This means she will crash into or run over anything that gets in her way. Sure does make my lecture on straight line training take on a new meaning to most of the students present.

And least I forget, she thinks she is without a doubt quite the loveliest Doberman pup in the world. How does she know? The classroom training floor has one wall covered with mirrors. Sanity discovered the pup in the mirror and didn't really want to do much of anything other than preen and pose in front of that image. Again she went home very tired.

So in the two weeks since she first arrived she has learned to come and to see me as a person of great interest. She is learning the rules of the yard and the house and how to move around and about a great number of dogs, all sizes, all ages and some with most unpleasant temperaments.

For days I tried to find something that would interest her in a play retrieve game with me. No luck. Now I know she was play retrieving before she got here, so it is just a matter of my finding the right item. With that in mind, I ordered a few toys when I had to place an order for some other kennel supplies. Yeah! I guessed right and now I am able to get at least 3 or 4 nice retrieves each evening. That is all I am asking for at this time. Just enough to keep the retrieve "brain pathway" open and ready for learning when the time comes for more serious training.

What were the toys? See the pictures.

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