Saturday, December 10, 2005

Day 142

Good, bad or indifferent I find I am tending to work on specific commands as the need for a demonstration comes up. So today it was the place command. Not the "go to bed" or "kennel up" or "go upstairs" or "go downstairs", but the plain vanilla "place" command. That command so simple in requirement and yet so seemingly difficult for both human and dog to understand.

I say "place" and I mean for you to move away from me at a reasonable and workmanlike speed until I tell you what to do next. To me it seems so simple and yet, I have owner after owner just not able to grasp the concept. Which brings me to today's lesson. Student is still having trouble with the "place" command when the place is the negative space. Neither dog nor human seem to have a clue as to what or why they are doing what they are doing. So my solution was to start by working Sanity on "place". This is a command I haven't worked on very much lately and one that I knew she would not do correctly since like the student's dog, she really didn't get it.

Sure enough, I set up the exercise and give the command and she just sits there like a rock. Tap on the ecollar and help with my left hand on the leash up close to her collar all the way to the negative space. It is only a matter of about 4 feet, not exactly a challenging distance. I repeat this twice more and then warn my student that the next time I give the command there is more than likely going to be some yelling.

Why the change? Because, when I said tap/place, Sanity locked it up and had that "you can't make me do it" look on her face. Ha! Watch me. So I increased the stim level by one and repeated the entire exercise. When I said place/tap she let out a yell and made to head for the door. Nope, I simply helped her move in the correct direction all the while keeping my finger on the button and not letting up on the stim until she was in the area defined by the negative space. Just as soon as all four feet cleared the space marker, I took my finger off the button, said "sit" and helped her into a sit as I praised and talked softly to her. Her response was a sort of "humpf" noise. Repeated the exercise again but this time I turned the stim back down to the normal training level. Sure enough, when I said "place" she moved at once to the negative space and sat almost before I had a chance to tell her to "sit".

Then it was the student's turn with her dog. She still didn't get it and was actually using the place command to mean sit. Her dog was most confused. Stopped the exercise and had Diane, my assistant bring her dog Molly out and demonstrate what the completed command looked like. We put out two negative spaces in a row. There was about 6' of space between the two spaces. Diane set up to send about 6' back from the first space. She sent Molly and didn't give the sit command until Molly had her front feet in the second space. Molly stopped, turned and sat in the second space, having first run right through the first space because she had not received a command that would tell her to stop.

I then repeated sending Sanity to the first space and with that the light went on in my student's head. She got it! This means the dog will get it and in the process learn yet another useful command. Now I have to decide if I am going to continue to drag my heels with Sanity's training or am I going to get busy and finish the training and lose the demonstration that I know makes such a difference to my students. Will have to sleep on it and give it much thought.

In the retrieve class I did my usual sneaky thing. After checking on each students progress I got out the broad jump and had them introduce the "over" command to their dogs. Sanity and I? Well, I am working on an idea for how I can best teach the "over" command to her that will get the idea of speed across to her when I can't run along beside her and I really don't want to have to use a "runner". More on that as I work it out. Since I have a student in the same boat I'm in there will be two of us working on the problem. It really is much nicer to have company when embarking on a new training journey.

1 comment:

  1. What does "negative space" mean? I meant to ask this when you first mentioned it, but I've lost that post now.

    Your confused student sounds a bit like me. I don't have trouble with the place command (other than not practicing it) but the general sense of confusion and things just not clicking. So maybe there is hope for me after all!