Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 8 -- Fun in the Sun!

Finally!! After days and days of rain (A LOT of rain) we finally got a sunny day. We took full advantage of the sun and did most of our training outside.

I really like to incorporate play into training. If it's fun for Atticus, he's going to want to repeat the behaviors. It's a great way to build the relationship with him and make sure he's really responsive to you in even high distraction environments.

He's such a playful boy! I can use play as a reward for him. He loves food but it's nice to have some variety in the rewards you offer him. I started playing tug with him today. He LOVED it! I play it with rules so that it's fun for everyone and it doesn't get out of hand. With a guy this big, you want to make sure you have a good on/off switch with games like this. Here are my rules; I start and stop the game and he has to drop it when I ask him to. I teach him to drop it by saying "drop" and putting a treat to his nose. I'll give him a another cue when I want him to get it again like "get it." This is a nice way to teach "drop" because it pays off so well for him ("If I drop the item I get both the treat AND the toy back"). And he is a quick study...he took something that didn't belong to him and I said "drop" in a nice, even tone and he dropped it right away. Big reward for that. What a good boy!

Playing with other dogs gives me an opportunity to teach him as well. First of all, I can interrupt play if it starts to get too rough. He's still young and learning what is ok or not ok and he's not quite sure of his size yet. I am also teaching him that it pays off to check in with me and respond to me even when really fun things are happening. I'm going to make sure I have tasty treats on me and maybe a tug toy so I can reward him when he randomly checks in with me and if I ask him to check in with me. I can do recalls with him, reward him for coming to me, and reward him by letting him go play again. A recall should not mean to the dog that play is going to end. Why would he ever want to come to you if it meant all fun was stopping? It's also nice to break up the play a little bit by throwing in some commands after a recall ("down," "sit," or walking nicely beside you with no leash). This teaches the dog a little bit of self control and helps them with their on/off switch.

We're continuing to work on stairs and he's doing really well. He hesitates some but always get the courage up to do them. He'll need practice on stairs every chance you get.

He was a little nervous about the car today so we decided not to open the back of the car and just work on approaching it again. I am guessing that this was because there was a lot of Black Friday traffic out but, because we don't know what is going on in their brains, we can only guess. We spent a lot of time walking up and down the sidewalk. Sometimes we would pass the driveway and sometimes we would walk towards the car. We did find something to work on tomorrow while we were out though...he loves people and other dogs and pulls a little on the leash when he sees them. While that might be ok now, it's not going to work when he outweighs his people.

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