Eight months young

Scoop has been a busy traveling dog, and we hit the road again today to go to a Greg Derrett seminar in Southern California.  We will have been away from home 17 out of 27 days when I return to San Jose on Tuesday.

We spent Halloween weekend at an AKC trial. It was an untypically small California trial, with only one judge/2 rings. We stayed in the RV and had plenty of time to socialize and train.  Scoop helped me judge the annual Halloween costume contest which they held at the trial on Saturday after the show.  We got up close and personal with some pretty scary looking people and dogs.

Before I left the RV with Scoop I filled my pockets with lots of tasty high level meat treats, and of course had his favorite toy. I was a bit concerned about how he would react to all the funny looking costume contestants. As we arrived at the scene he saw Teresa Robinson and Belle in all their pirate attire and his hackles went up, and his mouth went open with some “danger,danger mister robinson” kinds of vocalizations. I got him to sit and started shoving in the cookies and in a few seconds it was all over. We played and walked through all the commotion and used lots of rewards. He ignored the rest of the teams in their silly get-ups.  This was a great training opportunity and I liked his response to all of it. 

I worked all weekend to teach him he really does need to keep his front feet on the ground when meeting folks. My friends all helped, and he got nary a pet or comment when acting impolite, and he got lots of praise and treats when he said hi but didn’t try to maul the strangers. I don’t get to work around a lot of children and when we met some willing victims, Scoop got to spend time with them playing and taking treats and just hanging out watching and being in close quarters around them. Thanks to the Robinsons for these two cute photos of Scoop.


We are really working on running flatwork on both my right and left sides. Scoop has nice eye contact and attention during the heelwork.  I actually have not taught any of my dogs a cue for keeping their eyes on me, but how I reward them certainly does reinforce eye contact. When heeling I only mark eyes on me performance. I keep sustained eye contact with Scoop while moving as I only reinforce after some level of duration like a few steps or few seconds of heelwork while he has his eyes on me. If he looks away, the count starts over so that I don’t reinforce the look away-look back.

Here are most of the behaviors Scoop is familiar with now.

  • Name- means run to me immediately
  • Kennel- get in your crate
  • Close (left side swing to heel and remain their when stationary or moving)
  • Side (right side heel, same as left)
  • sit, down, stand, break,
  • left & right (turn left or right, verbal cue only),
  • drop (head lowered to ground)
  • feet (put your front feet on anything I indicate,  including my hand when held in front of me)
  • hop on (2o2o position on step, box etc)
  • touch (nose touch hand or target)
  • climb (run over a flat plank on the ground)
  • walk (walk backwards),
  • go (go towards anything I indicate, like through the standards of a jump with no bar,                          or around a chair)
  • feet targeting with no cue other than go to whatever large “target” is lying on the ground. I use a 2 foot by 2 foot square board, or a carpet mat. Scoop hits his front feet first on the board.
  • I can use some of these behaviors now in combination. Like having Scoop say your prayers is just a combination of these three simple behaviors: sit, feet up and drop your head. Combining skills makes it fun and easy to teach tricks. Scoop can swing his rear end, move it backwards, or keep it on something. He can put his front feet on something when stationary or moving, and can do it from a sit or stand. He can drop his head to a surface, or turn it left or right. It is lots of fun once you have all the core body behaviors under cue and can use them independently and together.

Scoop went with me last week to the USDAA Nationals. After all the great progress we had made at the little AKC trial I had high expectations of showing off all his perfect manners. HA! He was pretty excited at all the commotion and I can’t say I was always successful at keeping him focused. If I have his undivided attention while playing or training and I move into a distracting area it is fine. If I let him watch dogs or people moving into his area it takes me a moment to get him focused back on me. When playing or training he was great, walking on leash around all the people was more difficult, as he still really wants to greet everyone, especially his favorite ones. He is just 8 months old now, so I am not worried. He continues to improve daily and weekly, and he is easy and fun to train. He is attentive when the level of distraction is not 900 people and 5 rings of agility. Scoop did all his behaviors, and tugged and retrieved and had great off leash recalls in surroundings that most pups would have found extremely distracting. I am pleased with where we are now in his training. The two photos below were taken from our perfect RV site at ringside  in Scottsdale from my new iphone which I LOVE. Now if I could just figure out how to post to wordpress from the road on my iphone…..

Scoop, Ace and I are packing it up now and leaving rainy windy San Jose for hopefully some nice weather and fun training with the Derrett’s this weekend, I hope you have a great training weekend with yours.