I am a giant nerd and like to train my own dogs on Friday nights. Firday night Kelso got to do some fun 8″ jump sequences involving extension and collection (they were 8″ because the exercises were really set up for Kassey’s dachshund Strauss).  He loved it and was a pro, since they were pretty simple for an almost-MACH pooch.  Idgie did some flatwork, and man is she getting good!  She runs with such drive and intensity while we do circles I can’t believe it!  Sometimes she even leaps and snaps in the air–she is just so aroused.  But she remains in control, does not bite the mama (so far, but I’m ready), and cuts in with my shoulder pulls.  She is so coordinated at the age of 4.5 months that I can’t wait to see this stellar dog in a mature body.  She is working really well for a tug now, and though her tug drive isn’t *perfect* yet, it’s getting there.  Her favorite tug toy right now is a ridiculous pink boa I got at the dollar store, and it is so much fun to play with her with that big bright pink thing!  She did some really good intense flatwork and even offered a few tunnels (I am not asking her to tunnel at this point, just making it an option and rewarding it handsomely if it happens).   But my biggest success for the night was when I had Kassey hold Squidge for a restrained recall.  It went as I expected, the baby lunged into her flat collar, even gave a little bark as I ran off, with my shoulder dipped toward her and the pink boa ready.  Kassey let her loose, she raced to me, and we had a GREAT game of tug.  What was so special about that?  Kassey had treats in her hands.  Yep, in her hands.  Not her pocket, her hands.  And my good whirlie still came racing to me and tugged like a fiend.  Man I love this puppy.  To end the night I got out the Happy Feet box and shaped for about ten minutes.  With some serious frustration on Idgie’s part due to an ill-timed click on my part, we finally got to all four feet up on posts.  I then dumped out the remainder of my treats and let her gobble them up.  We won’t touch the Happy Feet again until Wednesday, in the hopes that some latent learning will occur. 


Saturday morning I had a lesson with one of my students and her wicked Rhodesian Ridgeback, Tilda.  We mostly used the session to work on 2×2 weaving, and it was really inspiring.  I have been helping Kassey train Strauss on 2x2s and it has been a little frustrating, and it was nice to see Tilda zip through the process at a more expected type of pace.  She got to doing 2 sets of 2, about 10 feet apart, one set at 2 and 8 o’clock, and the other at about 1 and 7 o’clock.  Way to go Tilda and Allison!  Makes me wish I could hit a fast-forward button on Idgie and get going on her weaves…just kidding!  

When Allison and Tilda were done I got Idgie out of the car and we first worked some flatwork for her pink boa.  I have decided to spend the first half of our sessions on flatwork and recalls for tugs before moving on to shaping.  I have found she is less frantic in her shaping this way, and that she is more intense in her tugging as well.  I will try tossing this up again next month.  Her flatwork was intense and great, she is very responsive to my body cues and can execute front-crosses like a pro.  She did try to cut behind me for the tug at one point, but we worked through it and then left the flatwork alone.  I then decided to shape some obedience work (oh yeah, she’s going to be an OTCH too…).  I got out my training dumbbell and got ready to shape.  I usually have my students shape a grab and hold before a pick up, and I have decided to experiment with teaching them both simultaneously with Idgie.  For the grab and hold Idgie will bite the dumbbell but likes to spit it out, so today we worked on holding it longer, which turned into shaping a more intense grab.  I have started clicking her for grabbing and giving it a slight tug back, trying to get it out of my hand.  I really want my dogs to intensely grab the DB so that they don’t ever drop it until they hear the give cue, and Idgie is well on her way to that kind of understanding (I think).  Saturday was the first time I shaped a pick up for Idgie.  She is now consistently grabbing it, raising her head, and taking steps toward me before I click and treat.  She was picking it up and tossing it for a few repetitions, so I just witheld my click and got her to step toward me before spitting it out.  Good Whirlie! 

Once Idgie was done training I got Kelso out and started shaping him to hop into the box for the box method of running A-frames.  I have decided to casually work on this skill and see where we get. I don’t want to repeat a ton of A-frames with Kelso at this stage in his life, so we’ll see where we go.  Of course, when he gets his MACH he will get to lay on the couch and eat bon-bons and play Jolly Ball in the backyard all he wants, and will take a serious break from Agility.  He is driving toward the box at this stage, but is still striding in it instead of hopping.  He will hop it within a grid, but not without it quite yet.  It’s sometimes tough to get motivated to train an older dog (who is basically trained) a new skill, but it is important for his well-being that he gets to play one-on-one with the mama just like the baby does.

Saturday night Idgie was being nutty so I decided she needed some brainfood.  I decided about a week ago that I would teach her scent discrimination with something other than scent articles and have it not involve a retrieve before we hit the articles.  Turns out this is how Fanny Gott does it, as well as some other people I admire in Obedienceland.  Soooo, I started with two buisiness card magnets, scented one and used a plastic bag to set the other one down on the ground.  Idgie approached then and when she sniffed the one I scented I clicked and treated.  Didn’t take ten minutes before I had 7 magnets out and Idgie was indicating the correct one no matter where I put it.  This will have its own blog as I progress it, because it’s a project I’m very excited about.