Canyon and I had our second training session with the Border Collie lady and she seemed quite impressed with our work. Last week’s session wasn’t overly successful, so I had really tried to practice what she had taught us, so she wouldn’t think we were a waste of her time. Last week he was really distracted by all the smells left in the room by the other dogs before him and really didn’t seem interested in working for me. This week he was still a little distracted, but at least tried to pay attention to what we were asking him to try. I cut up a couple of chicken hot dogs and cheese strings, so I think he felt it was a little more worth his while. What really got his attention off the smells in the room though, was a small ball on a rope her husband was playing with, so she asked him to toss it over and we used that instead of the treats for some of the more difficult tasks.
This week we did a little more of the “touch” cue – not Canyon’s favourite – and then moved on to using his desire for whatever I had in my left hand to start teaching him a bit about the “heel” and where he was expected to be positioned. I’m not a huge fan of lure training, but Canyon doesn’t really offer many behaviours so if luring him works, I guess that’s what we’ll need to do until he understands what I am asking for. For getting him into the “heel” position, the Border Collie lady had me hold the little ball on a rope in my left hand and bring it from Canyon’s nose area (he was standing in front of me) to behind me, in sort of a counterclockwise circle motion so he’d turn his body and he’d end up straight at my hip – I hope this makes sense. He was quite excited to get a chance to play with the ball so eagerly followed my left hand into position. Once he was in position, she had me take a couple steps and then when she clicked I threw the toy for him to go fetch. I need to work on my positioning when I’m bringing him around my body, but otherwise we did quite well with this exercise. After a bit of “heel” work, we moved on to practicing some “down-stays” and “sit-stays.” Canyon’s “down-stays” are really good because we practice them while playing fetch so that Aspen and Cessna have a chance to retrieve as well, but his “sit-stays” need some work. For this part of the lesson we just used the hot dog and cheese because the toy had him too riled up.
I think that’s about all we worked on, but I thought we covered quite a lot in just 40 minutes. We meet her for half an hour after her classes on Tuesdays because of Huib’s work schedule, but she finds we cover more than she can in her full hour lessons.
I’m not sure what we’ll learn next week, but she has asked me to make a list of some of the things I’d really like to teach Canyon – any suggestions?