Scooby Doo

One of Scoop's favorite toys

Scoop had a great weekend with Jim while I was at AKC World team practice. I think he wore Jim out though considering the number of trips he and Scoop made together around the property. Scoop likes to carry sticks while he is on his walks and we don’t let him bring them in the house at the end of the adventure. Jim let the stack of sticks accumulate and I got home to a great grand stack of them by the back door.

Scoop was happy to see me and I to see him when I got back on Sunday night. We even did some training and playtime before we hit the sack. I know I was only gone three and a half days but I wanted to see if he remembered what we were working on before I left. We practiced the go round the can game , and ran through sit, down, stand, break, feet up, get it, leave,  etc. Not that I thought he would forget:)

He knows to stay in a sit position now long enough for me to take photos of him even from a short distance. Today we took some in the agility field.

Scoop,by tunnel 15 weeks

This week I am working on teaching Scoop to get into the water tub in the agility yard. I started with him just jumping in and out of the empty tub, but the goal is to progress soon to the big swimming pool here at our home. I have a couple commands that work to get Scoop engaging with any kind of “stuff”. He learned hop on meant to get on his little training table when he was just 8 weeks old. So if I want him to get onto something I can use that cue word to get him started getting on or in something. So a few weeks ago I started with saying hop on to encourage him in and then rewarded with treats and toys. We have progressed slowly to having a couple inches of water in the tub and he thinks it is lots of fun to play tug or get the toy while he is in there. Today it helped that it was about 90 degrees here, he liked having the cool down in the tub.

Sccop in the tub

Sccop in the tub

Left and Right
Scoop is learning left and right. Well actually I say left when he turns left, and I use the word back for a right turn. My oldest border collie Riot is 14 now and does not do agility, but because of her name (Riot/right) I used the command back for her and it has just been easy to stick with the same command throughout all my dogs training.  I played around with using a toy to start teaching the turn, but wasn’t getting anywhere fast, so yesterday I shaped the left turn in a half dozen short training sessions (couple minutes each).

I sit in a chair with him in front of me and marked any motion of his head or body towards the left. I tossed his cookie further to the left and sort of behind him after I clicked so that I could get a bit more of a direction change. It took a couple sessions which I did while sitting in the same chair in the living room  as a prompt for him to realize that is what I wanted to work on. By this morning I was getting full turns to the left, and started using the word left as he began his turn. I felt confident that he knows the cue while I am sitting in the chair in the living room, but there were no distractions and I was still sitting down. I started moving around the room, and by this afternoon I was able to go to every room in the house, and to different places in each room and use the left command and he turned quickly on cue. I interspersed the left training with some sits and downs and releases. Before I introduce shaping the turn to the right I will see how fluent I can get this turn before confusing the issue.

The definition of fluency is to flow or move smoothly while speaking or writing. Fluency in animal training also means that you have performance speed and accuracy, and that the animal will perform the behavior on cue in spite of distractions or distance from the handler. I want fluency in each behavior I teach. I am working on speed right now. I would like Scoop to turn to the left as quickly as possible after he hears the word. To me that means he really understands what I am asking of him. In my last training session around the house I ran to each different room with him and gave him just one cue for left, and I got almost 100% accuracy on the ten cues in 10 different places. I delivered the treat as quickly as possible, and we were on to the next room. It was fun, it was fast and I got the training done. Next session will be outside.

In fact since I have to teach a class soon, I am out of here so I have time to go play and train my puppy! Hope you are having as much fun with yours as I am with mine!

NJG

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