Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back To Work

Summer is now almost at an end, so it is time to get back to training. We took most of the summer off of any formal training mostly because I was feeling a bit of lack of motivation. Dogs also need a training break and summer is the perfect time for that because there is always so many other things going on.  This past week we started working back on our obedience training and both Rundle and I seem to have a renewed enthusiasm. 

One of the skills we worked on over the last week or so, was scent articles. Scent articles are a good way to start back training because it is easy to set up and only takes a few minutes to get thorough a training session.  You also tend to see results (or lack of them) right away.  I am very happy with Rundle's work with the articles. He is happily running out to the pile and finding the article. It is not often he makes a mistake now, so I am adding more distance to the pile and more articles to search from. We are up to 10 un-scented articles in the pile, plus the scented one.  Today we did 4 sends with 2 metal and 2 wood articles and Rundle was 100%.  I think one time he picked up the wrong one, but quickly put it down again.  

For a while, Rundle was having some trouble with the metal article. I couldn't figure it out because he started scent discrimination with metal, so I know he can figure out that part of the puzzle. When I present just a metal dumbbell, he has no trouble picking it up and carrying it, so I know that was not the issue.  But, he would get to the pile with a metal article as the "hot" one and he had a very hard time finding it. He was tasting them (which I do not like) and hesitating near the correct article. So, I did some research on scent and how it works.  Once I did some reading, it was like a little light bulb went off in my head. Wood and leather are porous, so they hold scent much better than metal. Since scent does not "stick" to metal as well, that means the scent from the metal article floats away from the article much more than it does with the other articles. So, I started to scent the metal article much less. I had been rubbing it in my hand until it was warm, thinking that more scent would make it easier to find. Wrong!  More scent was just making it confusing for my dog because all that scent was floating away and towards the other articles, making finding the correct one more difficult.  Now I am holding the metal article in my hand (no rubbing) for about 3 seconds and placing it in the pile. What a difference that has made!  Rundle is now finding the correct article with much less obvious confusion about which one is the correct one. The tasting of the articles has almost diminished.  Hopefully that was the issue and Rundle continues to be successful as we add more challenges to the scent articles.  Since I cannot smell what Rundle does, it is sometimes a guessing game as to why issues pop up.  

We have also been working on heeling since that is the main part of obedience and plus, it is lots of fun. We are working on precision, of course, but also keeping heeling fun. We are working on changes of pace (mostly fasts) since Rundle has some trouble with those. We have also started to work on auto halts and those are coming along nicely, although I do not yet give Rundle too much of a chance to be wrong.  I want fast, straight halts, so I am helping him get that every time so we don't develop too many bad habits. Heeling is hard work!!!

I have a general training plan in my head and some training goals I want to reach by the end of the year.  So, lots of work ahead for us. Rundle is still far from being mentally mature, so we still have no plans of entering a trial anytime soon, so really there is no pressure.  Just train and have fun and see where it goes.  

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