Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DAY EIGHT (Tuesday): AP Obedience

Today was another successful day with Twinkie!!!  She's such a smart girl.   Today is also the day I've felt more exhausted than I have since we've gotten here.  I was barely able to keep my eyes open at dinner, but we still had to go out and work Twinkie in a public setting.   Telling Zachary we were going to take Twinkie to Barnes and Noble after dinner sounded like a stellar idea at noon but not so much at 7pm.  On we go. Everybody is starting to feel the effects of being tired....we're all dragging at this point!  The days are long and intense.  If I could've curled up on Twinkie's Mutt Mat for an hour or two, I would've absolutely seized that opportunity!  I think my Facebook status last night was Drooling tired.  That about summed it up.

Well, today we worked on more advanced concepts of sit, down and heel both on and off leash.  Twinkie needs to understand exactly what we're asking her to do wherever and whenever we give her the command.  She also needs to understand that we expect her to follow our command whether or not she's on leash.  With each day of training, she becomes more familiar with our tones of voice, body language and expectations which subsequently creates a more solid working relationship and greater level of respect.  At the end of the day, our working relationship comes down to a mutual level of respect.   The reality of it all, though, is that this is a process which requires practice and takes time.....much more time than the two weeks we're in Ohio.

Despite the fact Twinkie sometimes gives me a run for my money, she knows exactly what do when I give her a command.  Now we need to be sure she can follow these commands when we're at a distance and standing at different positions in relation to her body.   We also need to be sure Twinkie's not 100% dependent on the hand signal and understands and will follow just a voice command.  When we first began training last week, we always used the hand signal together with the verbal command as we stood in front of her.  At this point, we're standing across the room from Twinkie, behind her and to her left or right giving a command and expecting her to maintain that command until she's either "free" or we've given another command.  For example, if Twinkie's in a down and we walk away from her, she should not only hold that command, but she should easily move from down to sit with our command from across the room.   Or, if she's in down, and we verbally prompt her to sit while we're standing behind her, it is expected that she will follow our command even though she can't see us.   It's also expected at this point that the she'll maintain a command for longer periods of time and someone can step over her without her moving while she's down.   Having a stranger at the mall walk over Twinkie as she maintains a down is part of our Public Access Test.  So, I apologize in advance for stalking the unsuspecting patrons of the Fairfield Commons Mall on Friday.  LOL
Another piece of obedience that we worked on was having Twinkie walk in a heel with more distractions, at varying speeds and in tight spaces.  When she's walking at a heel, Twinkie should be walking right next to me and never pull forward.  This is by far the hardest skill to learn as a handler.  She should also pace herself and remain in the correct position regardless of my current pace and changes in speed.  What we wound up doing was start walking at a regular pace, begin running then quickly heeling left around a chair and walking sllloooooowly.  With each change in speed, Twinkie was expected to remain in a heel.   No exceptions.  She did beautifully; we're so proud of our little stinker!  :)  

The only thing I really struggled with was having Twinkie walk in a heel and turning in a tight space.  This is meant to simulate shopping and turning in an aisle or moving around something.  It takes more coordination than you'd think.  I kept nearly tripping over Twinkie, or she was was just confused by my body language and randomly did things like bark, touch and go into a down with the hopes of getting a treat.  :)  Randomly performing unprompted commands is a very common behavior for our dogs when they're confused and confused she was!  By time we were halfway through this exercise Twinkie was practically doing back flips because I just couldn't get it.  Ugh.  It will come all in good time.  

Two other two obedience commands for the morning were "back" and "stand".  "Back" is getting your dog to literally back-up at your prompt.  You may need for them to take a few steps backwards as opposed to turning around in certain situations so it's important they have the coordination to do this.  "Stand" is a command to bring your dog to an upright position from either down or sit.  Some situations may warrant them standing upright and not immediately going into a heel, or it just may be necessary for them to stand so we're able to put on their harness.  

This was just our early morning training session.  Sheesh....we haven't even gone tracking yet. 

Drooling tired.

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