Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Training

Finally it is starting to look like spring around here. That means that we can actually do some training outside where there is more room and more distractions for Rundle to learn to work around. Rundle is a dog that is very aware of his environment and so even the backyard can present enough distraction to add challenges (in a good way) to our training. Learning to focus and work amidst distractions is an important part of the training process, and so even in the yard with familiar distractions, it will help Rundle learn to ignore the outside environment while he is training. Or at least that is the plan :)

Rundle's heeling is coming along nicely. I mentioned before that we were doing a heeling class through the Fenzi Academy and it really helped me set my goals for Rundle's heeling. The class was very intense and worked entirely on the precision behind heeling. This meant that for 6 weeks we worked on where heel position is. By the end of the 6 weeks, we were just starting to add movement to our heel position and Rundle and I had not completed all the skills set out at the beginning of the class.  I think that only one or two people actually got thorough all the skills, that is how tough the class was.  I think it was worth it though and Rundle seems to have a solid understanding of where heel position is and how to stay there. Now we just need to put in the hours and hours of practice that it will take to get that nice heel position all the time. Building duration for heeling will be a gradual process as I don't want to lose the precision. 

We are doing lots of other fun training too. I am starting to add the real scent articles into the discrimination game, so instead of just indicating the correct article, I am going to be asking Rundle to retrieve the correct article. He is retrieving all three types of articles well so now it's time to start combining that with the discrimination. We are also starting to work on go outs, doing more work with the broad jump, and adding more distance and movement to our downs. So, it's a good thing we can train outside as we will need more room to do all of these. 

Since I have no picture of Rundle working, I will post a video. This is Rundle working on "wait". The wait command is different from the stay in that I want Rundle to be ready for action. So with this cue he should be watching me and waiting intensely for the next cue, which is usually an action cue (come, utitlity signals, or release to agility equipment). I don't want any movement until I give another cue, as that gets you into all kinds of trouble. You will hear in the video some noise from next door where the neighbours were getting new siding put on their house. Rundle really wanted to go see what was going on (ie bark at the workers) but was a good boy and focused on the task we were working on. I need to work much harder in these situations by keeping the sessions short and interesting (using a tug toy instead of just food) to make sure he is successful around these kinds of distractions. 


  1. Kim are you giving a verbal command right now along with the hand signal?

    1. Yes :)
      In the ring all the exercises where a "wait" would be used, with the exception of the signal exercise in utility, allow both a verbal and hand signal to be used. So, recall, DOR, retrieves, BJ, SFE all allow both a hand signal and/or verbal signal. I will probably split out the hand signal as we get more serious about signals but for right now I'm not too worried about that.