Sunday, February 6, 2011

More training, more thoughts

Today Nix and I trained with Michele, Cider and Cougar, Paula and Petra, Tracy and Rogue and Jill, Kina and Summit at the 4RK9s building. I think we are collectively exhausted. Nix has curled himself up in a pretzel by the computer and is sound asleep. Seriously, how can anyone sleep in that position? Better yet, how can he bounce right out of it without his neck being stuck at a 90 degree angle for the next three days?

Got to meet Sheryl's new baby tervlet, who is currently nameless. Phoenix was quite baffled by him. He tried using the Malinois Paw of Power and the fuzzy little critter flashed his puppy license and made all sorts of funny faces and noises. There was a great deal of tail wagging and ear language and who knows what kind of information was exchanged.

Today I worked a lot on reinforcing attention. When Nix is worried about things, he tends to drop his head, break eye contact and drift off to his happy place which I suspect is full of cats. So today was all about making him responsible for watching me and earning rewards. I'm not into pushing green dogs super hard but I do expect him to hold up his end of the deal. Basic attention is one of the load-bearing walls of obedience. If it starts to sag, you can't expect everything else to be brilliant.

So, fun things to do with Utility:

Articles: put the articles on, under and around a folding chair. Sometimes put the scented one on the floor and sometimes put it on the chair seat. Phoenix loves this. It makes the hunt more of a challenge.

Moving stand: as the dog is behind you on the return, take off running. Chasing is always fun. So it catching. At least for the catcher.

Signals: stand the dog, walk away, turn and lob cheese at him if he's watching. Use a verbal release so the dog knows it's okay to break out and chase food. If he's NOT watching, run back and show him the cookie he could have had. Then eat it yourself. (Choice of cookies is up to you!)

Directed jumping: send on the go-out, get the turn and sit, run out and have a party at the go-out spot. Send over a jump and release to a thrown toy or piece of food. Sometimes I will release to a closeable bait bag filled with food. Phoenix gets to retrieve the bag and I give him treats from it. Work off-center jumping (do the jump I signal, not the jump that is most convenient).

Gloves: I'll mark and send Nix to the glove, then chase him out (he always beats me, of course), then turn and run and let him chase me back. Play tug with the glove.

Now I'm going to sit in my recliner and watch the Super Bowl commercials and eat junk food and be lazy for the rest of the evening.


  1. those are good ideas. I'll have to remember them if I'm ever working on utility again.

  2. Hey Melinda would you mind me asking what you do about this? "When Nix is worried about things, he tends to drop his head, break eye contact and drift off to his happy place which I suspect is full of cats." Falkor does the same thing when he's stressy. What type of things do you do with Nix to help him work through that?

  3. So I probably have missed a post you did explaining this but I'd love to hear suggestions on how you are working on training the attention!

  4. Thanks for answering my question. Have done some of those things but not all. Probably should be doing more fun things. Now if the weather would just cooperate so I could train somewhere besides my living room.

  5. I like all the ideas! Layla would like the articles on a chair.