Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Day 237

The first lesson this morning was a new student and we needed to work on paying attention, ecollar language introduction and a casual recall. In theory Sanity is supposed to help me introduce these things. In truth, for whatever reason she did nothing but get in the way. I finally got so fed up with her foolishness that I tossed her in a kennel run with all the day care dogs. Then I went and called Wrap to come out and help.

LOL Talk about raining ice and hail on her parade. Goodness, you would have thought I had beaten her with a stick till my arm fell off. When I finally let her out of the kennel run she was so worried that she had been permanently demoted that she spent the rest of the day trying to "suck up" to me in one way or another. I got the full treatment; complete with lip licking, head in the downward, off to the side, eyes lowered stuff to falling on the floor and doing that sideways slither stuff they do when trying to appease another dog. I remained totally unimpressed and unrelenting in my insistence that the only way to please me was through solid, reliable work.

What did happen was that in the afternoon, when I went out to work Tyler, she was right there ready and able to do the things I needed her to do. No muss, no fuss, just good solid work. The sort that makes it so much easier to the beginning dog to understand what is expected of them.

What can I say about Tyler? He wants to stick so close to me it is almost impossible for me to get in any really meaningful practice on coming when called. I know it will all work itself out, but I am being reminded once again why I so seldom get the pleasure of working with a good Poodle. They pick stuff up every bit as fast as my beloved Dobermans, but unlike the Dobermans they actually want to work for a human and there is no alternate agenda.

Scent work is pretty much stuck at 4 o'clock and 6 o'clock. I will stay here until I begin to see a very important thing happening on a fairly regular basis. That thing is...checking in with my face. I will continue to smile when she picks up the correct article and remain stone-faced when she has the taboo article. In the end, even the different faces will go away, but for right now I really want to build that into the lessons.

This time she went out, I don't know if she even bothered sniff the taboo article. I do have my doubts, after all she has a 50% chance of getting it right no matter what. So I get the correct article at once. Nice work, bit of praise and we set up to do it again. This time she grabs the taboo article, get half way back to me, glances at my face and drops it. She then goes back and picks up the correct article. Gets half way to me, stops, doesn't look at me but does look at the taboo article. Drops the correct article, goes over to the taboo article, knocks it around with a paw a couple of times, picks it up and when I see this sort of behavior I can only wonder what is going on in that head.

She carried the taboo article back to the original location and spit it out. Then she returned to the correct article, picked up, took it back to the original spot dropped in pretty much on top of the taboo article and stood back. I waited and waited and waited. Finally she used her paw to separate the two articles, sniffed both of them and came back with the correct one. I just wish I had a camcorder so I could get this stuff on tape and then study it. I just know I am missing some really important stuff because as carefully as I watch, there is no way for me to really see all the subtle little things she is doing. And so she grows and learns while teaching me.

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