Lyra has worked away from home about ten times now. Finding the “toy on a stick” was excellent luck, because she loves that thing.
For those who have five minutes to kill and an interest in puppy training, I’ll go through this video with you, step by step.
I do not show the first minute of work; I had removed her from the crate and encouraged her to pee. This was the third time she was out at this park on this day; each exposure lasted about five or ten minutes. Of the three sessions, she was fastest to engage in this video.
From 0:00 to :29, I allow Lyra to adapt. This is critical. I expect 100% attetnion from Lyra when she works, so she must be ready to work. I will not ask her; I will allow her to choose when the time is right.
:30, Lyra makes eye contact. That is work! I praise and feed. I continue to praise and she stays engaged, so I stand up.
:44, Lyra makes an effort to move into heel position. That is a clear indicator that she is interested in work – at some level.
:49 Lyra disconnects to observe the whining dog. I stand up and move slightly away. I will not praise and interact with a dog who is ignoring me. I am more important than that:).
:55 Lyra is back to paying attention to me. She’s a little sleepy but as long as she maintains attention on me then I’m willing to work her. I know not to ask too much when she’s low energy.
1:28 I thought I was going to lose her to the grass, but she quickly changed her mind and stayed with me.
1:45 I pick her up and carry her to the ring. I will only work her in the ring if she is “in drive”. I want her to associate the ring with energy and play. I don’t mind if she’s a little flat outside of the ring, as long as she is basically engaged. This is Lyra’s third time in a ring. I carry her so that I can put her down and go right to work; I don’t want to have to engage her through the entrance – not yet.
1:56 First reward comes very quickly. This is her favorite toy, so an appropriate choice under distracting circumstances.
2:14 I started to take her into heeling and then realized she wasn’t sufficiently locked in on me, so I went back to trying to engage her in front of me first. Once she is in heel position, she must work or I will remove her from that position.
2:37 I reward her for showing energy and engaging me, even though she did not heel.
2:47 Lyra is punished for losing attention in heeling. Even at this age, I will not allow a dog to remain in heel position if they are not working for me.
2:54 I give her another chance to work; note how I am getting more energy and engagement this time.
3:07 More heeling. I can feel a bit of “softening” in her effort, but there is enough dog there to continue a bit longer.
3:15 Ask for a left turn/pivot, immediately followed by a driving reward to the right. I want her to “give” to the left and get her rear end in, but at the same time I want her to learn to drive forward or to the right immediately following that left turn. This work will accomplish that. Because she didn’t drive forward sufficiently, I pulled the toy up a bit early and gave her another chance.
3:25 I attempt another left turn. She does a better job driving forward after the turn, so she gets the toy.
3:38 Her third left turn. I reward the left turn itself instead of asking her to drive to the right after completing the turn.
4:05 Final left turn. This one is followed by a few steps in a straight line before the reward.
I don’t normally do this many left turns in a session, because done well they are hard on a young dog. So….in her next lesson I’ll focus on work that involves faster paces or driving to the right.
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I am enjoying watching Lyra’s progress and thank-you for posting everything in such detail.
One thing I have been wondering since the start: Lyra doesn’t seem to -like- being patted, bent over, cuddled, etc. She often backs away, and her tail stops wagging. Are you conscious of this? Is there any reason you continue to pat/cuddle her the way you do when she doesn’t like it? Obviously, it is not hugely negative for her because otherwise she would cease to work.
I read her behavior a little differently than you do. She doesn’t’ want to be patted and cuddled if I have something on my body that she wants – like food. In general, she also wants to come to me rather than have me to come to her. That is, in part, because she is a puppy, and that means sometimes I have to pick her up and put her places she may not want to be. So she’ll back up if she thinks I’m going to “grab” her. As she gets older that is less of an issue because I don’t pick her up so much unless I’m just holding her, and she does like that unless I have something else that she wants. I have recently started working on her opposition reflex skills (grabbing her collar or ruff) and I can see that she is getting much better about coming in close and being held, because she recognizes that this is the route to the toy/food.
Thank-you for your reply, Denise. It’s interesting that you think her behaviour is context specific, and that you plan to begin training against it with the ‘grab’.
Where do I get that great toy?!
You can buy one here next time I see you.
Beautiful! And how do you get the toy back, once she has got the toy at the end of the video?