Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Time

Well, the name Wylie isn't working out very well. It does not roll off my tongue easily and most people think I am saying Riley when they hear it. So we are changing her name to Riley.

Riley enjoyed her first chicken back today. I usually wait for a weekend, so I can supervise how they are doing throughout the day.

Reagan got her first "ou-wee" doing agility today. She jumped from too far back and misjudged what she was doing. She crashed and fell into the metal standard. She was a trooper. She walked it off and got back to work.

I try to be very careful about how I react when the dogs crash and burn. Even if they are limping momentarily or have some scrapes, I just tell them how awesome that was and give them a bunch of treats. Agility usually isn't dangerous, but occasionally you will have a mishap. I have seen people react really dramatic and concerned. I think when your dog is thinking "Yikes, what just happened? Ouch, that hurt a little." And the human follows up with "OMIGOD, ARE YOU SERIOUSLY HURT!!! OH, MY POOR BABY!!!" that you start to validate that something really awful did happen. It can make the dog afraid of the obstacle and it can take a very long time to correct a bad experience. Reagan bounced right back and did great.

I am retraining some of the steps to the weave poles. Last time, I taught Travis and Katie to weave and then taught them how to enter the poles. If weaving wasn't hard enough, poles must be entered with the first pole on the dog's left, 2nd pole on the dog's right. Reagan was not catching on, so I have opened them back up to about 4 inches apart and have added mesh guides to funnel her in correctly. Now we are working from a variety of angles and she is doing great.

I am also trying to make training with Reagan's meals easier. Raw food is difficult to work with since it is messy and not healthy for humans. She also finds it difficult to think straight and has a hard time concentrating with chicken in sight. I am working with Reagan on easy exercises and teaching her that she must work with ME if she wants ME to give her a chicken back or neck. In the picture below left, she is staring at the chicken back. When she finally looks back at me and gives me eye contact for a few seconds (below right), I tell her "jackpot". "Jackpot" is the word I am using to tell Reagan she has earned a chicken back or neck.

Riley still needs to learn to use those big ears. She can be lured with food into a sit and down. She is making good eye contact with me. She seems to catch on quickly that doing this or that earns treats, but I'm not sure that she realizes the clicker is marking what earns the treats. I am also teaching her name. Since she is not inclined to respond to it, I only say it when she is looking at me and I have a treat ready.

I am going to make a valid effort this weekend to introduce Riley to the house. Her house time as been very restricted because she is quick to put her feet up on counters and tables, she is a chewer, and she is very excitable and scrambles across the hardwood floors. Keep in mind that I have noticed all of this while she is on leash or supervised and gated in a small room. I cleaned the house and picked up the clutter, so I think it is ready to meet Riley. She is going to need a lot of supervising.

And Katie says this is the first time she has ever been asked to fetch a hat. She says "Whatever, just give me a treat for it."