I wrote the following blog when Brito had been in my home for about two weeks. It’s always fun to look back, so…here’s Brito when he was about five months of age:
Here is an eleven minute training session of Brito from this morning. You can see a variety of things.
Shaping with a dumbbell. I normally hold it because he tends to put his feet on objects sitting on the floor. That is not a habit that I want to encourage. ( First two minutes)
Heeling Skills. In particular, I want Brito to learn to set up in position close to my body and under my hand. I am not doing “choose to heel” type of work because walking close to my sides is not in his natural repetoire at this time. (2 min to 4 min)
Front and recall skills. In particular, I’m trying to click for forward motion towards me so he is not relying on my movement to come to front. He’s starting to get it. I take him through my legs to discourage him from backing away from me. (4 min to 6 minutes).
Personal play without a toy. Everything is “up” and into my space – Up to my face. Up to my hands. Up on my body. (6 min to 7 min)
Toy and personal play. Note that I tug him AWAY from my body. This is to get him to come back to me with his toy, and you can see over the course of a minute exactly how effective this is. If you play tug with a dog pulling them towards you, then you encourage opposition reflex which sends them away from you when you let go. In Brito’s case I’m working on getting a strong return with the toy, so I tug him away from me. This works with larger dogs too but it is easier when they are still puppies or small in size. Eventually it is likely that he’ll return no matter what I do with the toy, simply because the game is fun for him. (7 min to 9 min)
Dumbbell, a bit of reactivity, and the challenge of being a human parent while training dogs (9 min to the end).
There are also themes that you’ll see throughout.
I constantly encourage a heads up/body up position in his work. All of my petting and interaction encourage him to keep his head high and to stretch his body up to me. Notice what I’m doing every time I say “up, up!”
I encourage a lot of physical interaction and play. While I’m liberal with the cookie rewards, I also back them up with my personal approval and pride in his accomplishments. There is no “pure” shaping going on here – it’s a package deal.
Brito stayed in the game for a long time! The easiest way to get that is to change activities often enough that your trainee won’t get bored.
Brito is working on skill building in this session in this video. Later today I’ll take him outside and work on playing in public – or at least my front yard.
Total training time per day is about twenty minutes but the quantity of interaction is a good deal more than that. This is how I will build our relationship; spend lots of time together working, playing and simply existing.