Obedience Class #1

Tonight was Ranger’s first obedience class at Fetch Inc. We’ve already completed a basic obedience course through Lietash (who I can’t say enough good things about) but with a long-term goal of competitive agility, a centre that focuses on agility was a priority. Shop around, read the web and speak with agility competitors first hand…Fetch Inc was the place to go.

Besides, working around distractions and ignoring other dogs are two of the main things Ranger needs help with. 

First class involved the usual explanations, introductions and sorting things out. Ranger pulled into the training area a bit, but did not jump towards the other dogs or bark. I really want to do nosework with him at some point because every scent was a point of interest. 

“Settle” was good considering the new surroundings (and the freakishly loud dog beside us). Worked on placing treats in front of him when in a “down settle” and rewarding as much calm behaviour as possible. 

Exercises included luring the sit and down, working on touch (nose to palm) and the name game (call name, reward focus toward owner). Having Ranger focus when there is distractions is a top goal and I’ve made the mental note to reward more often in day to day activities. No one is surprised to find dog treats in all my pockets (and the bottom of the washer on occasion) so better put it to use. 

The final exercise was doggy sit ups (stand to lay to stand). We worked by luring with no commands or clicks. Once Ranger figured out what was expected, he had a good down and stand with no additional movements. Downside to luring is that I’ve been working hard on not having a dog that mauls your hand for a treat and he got a little grabby in his excitement. 

This week I’m hoping to transition him to voice commands to stop this behaviour before it becomes a habit. Nothing worse than a shoving, gnawing, drool covered mouth doing everything in its power to lick the last bit of hotdog off your hand. 


Foot awareness training continues

On Friday we pulled out the old math textbook again to have another go. 

Our (okay, my) biggest struggle was clicking in that split second between his feet hitting the book and him trying to launch it. A few times I wasn’t quick enough and definitely feel I was clicking the slide as opposed to the correct behaviour, but bumbling through training is really what it’s all about. Seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t and taking lessons from everything. 

About halfway through, we hit a Eureka! moment when I shifted from rewarding the movement onto the book and starting rewarding time standing there. With the increased rewards and time to think, Ranger had the idea of two feet on the book to receive noms down well so we ended on a good note. 

Tonight after our first obedience class (which I will highlight in another post) I left him home for some thinking/downtime and went to a friends. When I came home he was bright and excited so figured another short session with our book would be good. 

Between our session on Friday and today’s, a light bulb must have gone off. And not just a low wattage. No, this would have been at least 100 watts and possibly one of those blinding Xenon headlights that the car coming in the opposite direction down the highway on a rainy night like they always seems to have. 

Within five minutes, Ranger was confidently locating the book and placing both feet on it. I worked at all points on the clock before moving closer and now adding a word.

Selecting words for behaviours is my least favourite task. Some commands are easy, like sit or down or come but others can start sounding the same OR you have behaviours  that are similar but need different words. 

Ranger already uses “touch” for nose to palm contact. I have chosen “place” for front feet contact to the book. 

After adding the word, Ranger acted like he’s being doing it his whole life. We managed correct behaviour from multiple points on the clock and added the word “ok” for when he could leave the book and break contact.

My two goals were:

Goal #1: Have Ranger place both feet on book through shaping.
Goal #2: Have Ranger place both feet on book by word command.  

Both goals have been attained, so the next two goals for this behaviour are:

Goal #1: Send Ranger to book with “place” from at least six feet away from book. 

Goal #2: Have Ranger stay in position for increasing times with goal of 10 seconds. Once reaching this goal, I will then increase send out building up to six feet.


Foot awareness training day one

Yesterday we started working on Ranger placing both front feet on a target (in this case an old math textbook from college). Our goals are:

Goal #1: Have Ranger place both feet on book through shaping.
Goal #2: Have Ranger place both feet on book by word command. 

I decided to break it down into three 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day to make the most of his attention span. After placing the book on the floor I stood back to see what shaped (heh heh) up. 

Originally any foot movement towards the book received a click/reward. Slowly, he started putting one and then two feet up on the book. Ran into a roadblock to his interest in sliding the book under and out between his back legs…trying to click as both feet hit the book, but before it shot out like a cannon. 

By the end of the final session I would say there was a 90% success rate for him placing both feet on the book. And a 50% chance he would try to shoot the book out behind. 

Today I am going to switch to a higher value treat (more incentive to stay focused) and continue to work on the shaping. 

New training

Due to a busy week and my back, Ranger has been doing less training and more lazing. We’ve gotten out to the beach on an overcast grey day to roll in the sand and splash in the water. We’ve gone for a couple long leash walks working on Ranger’s ability to not play with every available dog.

Ranger has behaved fabulously. I can’t fault his occasional lapse into excitement as I can see the difference in our daily interactions. 

Obedience is starting next Monday which will give his brain a good workout. Wednesdays are visits with his ‘cousin’ for a rough housing afternoon. I’m feeling guilty as he’s not getting as much time lately as he should so I’ve decided we’ll start working to develop some body awareness. Because, let’s face it, he tends to move in a hundred directions at once (one of which is straight nose dive into the ground). 

To start, learning to place both front feet on a book (Wait until I tell my SO that there is a reason I’ve been carting around my old thick text books from 3 years ago). This will be a great thing to work on because by using shaping (and clicker), I can be flat out on the couch with Ranger doing all the work. All I need to do is mark and treat!

Goal #1: Have Ranger place both feet on book through shaping.
Goal #2: Have Ranger place both feet on book by word command. 

Let’s see how many sessions this will take. 

Countdown to September 16th

When I first got Ranger, I thought that some basic obedience classes would benefit both of us while we figured out our relationship and keep the border collie brain a little tired. We chose Lietash and completed out basic family obedience class and went on to try the beginner agility.

Ranger LOVES agility. He took to all the different equipment with ease (except for a little more confidence building on the teeter and walkway) and after agility is the most settled (physically AND mentally) that I have ever seen him.

I have quite a few friends in the local dog world and although I loved the Lietash classes, they are a distance away. Time and time again from all the agility people I heard that if you want to compete, go to Fetch Inc.

To compete in their agility classes, you must complete two basic obedience courses with your dog at their facility to confirm that all the fundamentals are there. Our first 6 week course begins on September 16th, and might I add, not a moment too soon.

Our last class was 2 weeks ago and I can see Ranger’s brain asking for more. With my back right now I can’t do much so an obedience class wouldn’t be too straining.

And I’ve seen some of the other classes offered at Lietash (including a trick training course) which I think we’ll do as well. Hey, gotta be active.