So today Knightley and I had a lovely cool very early morning walk - about 5:30am. It has been rather warm here of late, as you would know if you have been reading my blog regularly... so getting out in the morning means you experience the nicest temperatures. It was indeed lovely this morning, pearly light, a gentle breeze, parrots squawking from the trees and most of all, rather cool - so much so I had to go back for a jacket. Such a relief from the last couple of days. I took Knightley out on his long line down to the local sporting oval and we practiced recalls as I let him run around like a crazy thing. It's a very long long line - 10m (33feet), so he gets a good run, and the recalls are a very good test. I am pleased to say that he was probably 95% accurate on his responses to me, which is pretty good. I still wouldn't trust him off leash, as if a bird comes along, his brain flies out his ears... but it's a good start. Sometimes when he is transfixed on something in the house, and won't respond to his name - even appears to not hear me, he WILL respond to the cue 'come'. I have been very careful to not poison the cue (give it a potentially negative meaning, eg by putting him in his crate straight after he responds to the cue, or taking away something from him after he has responded), and to only use it when it is extremely likely he will indeed obey. It seems to have paid off. I will continue to proof it, with more and more distractions... but it is a good start for a 5 month old pup.
|Knightley performing his 'under' cue shortly after he learnt it.|
Since then I have proofed it with anything it is possible for
him to get under - even my camera tripod!
Anyway, so I got out a box for him to experiment with (very easy as we have tens if a hundred of the things throughout the house at the moment due to my brother moving out) and sat down to see what would happen. What you do with this game is decide every session upon something different you want your dog to do with the box - such as stand in it, drag it, bump it with its nose, thwack it with its paw, two front paws in it, two back paws, turn it over.... and so on. The more creative the dog the better. You can just let the dog experiment and when you see something you like, start clicking it. Knightley was impressively creative, considering it was his first time. He got the idea pretty much straight away, and after he pawed it a couple of times, I decided I'd try getting him standing with his two front paws in the box. 5 minutes later or so, done!
At the beginning he started barking a bit, as he does quite often when I am shaping... but I had a little brain wave, and decided to use the ideas of something called 'micro-shaping', where even a nose twitch or eye flicker can be clicked if it shows the correct intent. I didn't go quite that far, but I did start clicking a lot more for smaller things, thereby giving Knightley more feedback than he had been getting. I thought I was increasing criteria too quickly, or making the criteria too big... but I think the reason he has been barking is not enough clicking and fast treating!! Wow, revelation! So I'm going to focus on fast treat delivery, and not just for shaping.
|Sitting in front of an open door. One of the comeafters|
for sit. Handy for when you are busy with shopping and
keys etc, to have a dog who will wait quietly until told. I
have him do it when going out also.
I asked for help on the traininglevels yahoo list several days back about Knightley's barking and excitement issues when we're practicing the start of the retrieve training - which is just getting him to quietly hold objects for longer and longer, and is a level 3 skill. I got quite a few replies basically telling me to go back to where I came from, and that Knightley couldn't do it because that was simply how the levels worked, and if I followed it all in order then by the time I actually *got* to the retrieve training, then he would have been made ready for it by all the other skills he had learnt.
|Outward Hound Quick Access Treat Bag. It has been|
just great and has really sped up my treat delivery,
which in turn improves the quality of my training
overall. You see it in this photo with the opening
Anyway, that's all from me today. You may have noticed I am blogging more often. It is a conscious effort as I think it makes me a better trainer. I notice more what I am doing from day to day, and think about it more. I also get more traffic! So please, if you enjoy reading this blog, do follow it and show me that I have some regular readers. Also, if you would like to hear about a particular part of Knightley's training at this puppy stage, please ask and I would be happy to blog about it!