Saturday, June 29, 2013

10 months - Drive

Kili turned 10 months old last week. She weighs in at 22 kg (48 lbs). She has grown up so fast. Recently I was looking back at old photos and videos and can't believe that she used to be so small and cute! In the face of her second fear phase (slash general phase of fear) it was nice to look back at those for encouragement. I can't wait for her to be closer to 2 years old. I will be happy to have her temperament stabilize and not have to worry about weird, quirky fears that can pop up at any time.

Kili and I have been taking a sports foundation class to work on drive and motivation. I wanted more drive than Summit, and boy did I get it! Although she is not nearly as drivey as a border collie, I think I've cultivated it quite well in a greyhound. Drive and motivation can be built through fun little games that you can play with your dog. I intend to try some of these with Summit eventually and see if I can build his drive a little more.

The class also focuses on impulse control and crating, because both are a big part of competing in agility. We play games that involve crating in order to make it a happy place, but also to teach the dog that when they are in the crate they are taking a break but the second they come out of the crate it's time to focus and work (and have fun!). I am loving this class so far. Here are some of the exercises.

Impulse control: The end result is to throw a toy and not have your dog chase it until told to do so. In this exercise you do not actually tell your dog to wait. You ask your dog to sit and your dog is to learn that she is to stay there until given permission to go. The video shows the baby steps that we're at right now. I ask Kili to sit and then I slowly try to lower the toy to the ground. If she lunges for it, stands up, or otherwise moves I lift the toy back up and ask for a sit. The goal is to get the toy to the ground and wait a second or two before I tell her to "Get it" at which point she is free to take the toy and we play tug. She is then rewarded with a bit of food from inside the toy.

Drive: In this exercise you throw your toy and hold your dog back. Be sure to be pulling BACK on the collar and not UP. Your dog is not to sit politely and wait. You want her to be pulling towards the toy. You then release your dog with a command to "Get it!" and race her for the toy. If her motivation is poor and you get to the toy before her you should grab it and have a party for one. Make the toy seem like the most exciting thing you've ever had. This should get your dog interested in it, so continue your party for one until she is jumping for it. Grab her collar immediately and repeat the exercise. She should be much more motivated to get to the toy first. If she does then grab the other end and engage her in tug for a minute. Always try to stop this exercise with your dog still really wanting more. Put your toy away and only bring it out for this game.

Crating: I want Kili to go into her crate willingly. You can throw treats in at first to encourage your dog in. You don't want to be pushing, pulling, or otherwise forcing your dog into its crate. Close the door and back away for a couple seconds. Kili was already expected to lay down in her crate before I would open the door to let her out, but for this we're going a step further. I want her to know that my hand on the latch is a cue for her to lay down. If your dog doesn't have a specified behavior in the crate then you can use a down or a sit. Open the crate door just enough to slip your hand in with a treat and lure your dog into the appropriate position. Reward for being in that position. Close the door, step away and repeat. Eventually you can go to putting your hand on the latch and using your other hand to lure from outside the crate. When your dog starts getting it you should be able to hold the latch and just wait for your dog to sit/down. Next I open the crate and reward her for remaining in her down (and not just rushing out). I also step a few feet back from the crate and come back to reward. If she tries to get up I simply close the door to prevent her from coming out and start over. When your dog has maintained its sit/down and you want to release her, give your release command and immediately engage her in tug or hand touches. You're building a relationship and also getting her ready for work by focusing on you.

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