Today I’ve decided to write a post dedicated solely to Cessna. Today isn’t our anniversary. It isn’t really a special day at all, but last night her and I had such an amazing informal training session that I needed to write about it.
Huib and I had just planned to practice the touch command with Canyon, in addition to the formal “front” (couldn’t find a good link), but after a frustrating session I decided to bring Cessna into the kitchen for some fun.
I started out with some basic stuff; sit, down, speak, “give five” and stand – with Huib clicking and me giving her the treat only if she did it immediately. After a few minutes of this, I moved on to getting her to “touch” my hand. We first learned this a couple of years ago when I was taking classes with dogs In the Park so it’s something we often practice during our impromptu training sessions. So far I’ve only expanded the cue to get her to ring a bell, we attached to our sliding door, when she needs to go out or to get her to show me where I’ve dropped something I don’t want her picking up. She only does the “touch” with her nose at the moment, but I’m hoping to get her doing a “touch” with her paw (but with a new name).
But, back to our session… so after she’d done some very basic hand touches, I decided to try something a little different. Huib went and got a piece of navy blue duct tape and I proceeded to stick it to the wall around her nose level. I had her sit and then asked her to “touch” – pointing to the piece of tape. She ran over and bumped the spot with her nose, Huib clicked and I gave her 3 treats with an excited “Good Girl!!” we did this a couple more times and then I asked her to sit and wait again while I moved the target to a spot just a bit higher up. Again I asked her to “touch” and pointed to the spot of navy blue tape. She ran over and hit it with no trouble whatsoever! After a couple practice rounds, she looked up at me as if to ask “what now?” Since she’d breezed through the last two challenges I decided to up the ante and proceeded to stick the tape to the wall around my shoulders, while she sat and waited for the release. I wasn’t sure she’d be able to reach or if she’d even attempt the request, but I asked her if she was ready and then said “touch” in an excited voice, while pointing. Her first attempt was more of a sniff, but she still got a click and treat for trying. Before asking for it again, I told her to sit so she’d calm down a bit and regain her focus – she can get a little exuberant when she knows she’s doing a good job. When she appeared more relaxed, I asked her to “touch” in an excited voice and pointed to the spot again. She ran over to the wall, put her paws up and did it!!! She put her nose right to the centre of the target. Huib clicked the second her nose made contact and I gave her a hand full of treats while we did a happy dance.
I’m hoping to use this new “development” to move onto more useful things like turning off lights, opening/closing doors, and who knows what else – the sky’s the limit! Cessna and I have been together for almost six years, but she still continues to amaze me with her overwhelming desire to learn new things. Huib’s been working on teaching her to pick up her toys and put them into the toy bin, which is another skill we can utilize and expand. She’s been picking up things and giving them to us for years, so we thought we might as well teach her something more she can do with it. I’ll continue to work on her targeting, but may also start teaching her to use her tugging abilities for more than play – maybe some bedroom door opening lessons?? I know Cessna isn’t a Special Skills Dog Guide, but she enjoys learning, so why not teach her some extra skills, right?
Maybe at a later date I’ll write about all the extra skills she currently possesses.