Saturday, February 18, 2012

Misc. Updates 2/18/12

It's been a month since Crookytail arrived, and although I still sometimes have secret qualms about keeping him (mainly when he decides to ignore my shouts of "nooooo" and eat some soggy hamburger bun off the street, or tries to galumph toward an obviously unreceptive dog to say hi, despite my best efforts to haul him back, or is just a drag-ass pain in the butt generally), he's still an exceptionally easy and friendly dog -- such a good family dog that I feel vaguely guilty claiming him as my own foster failure.

But mine he is, and here's where we are training-wise at the end of month one:

He also has "Box" (go into the crate), Front, decent leash manners (apart from the snarfing of ground treasures, pulling toward other dogs, and occasional random balkiness...), and an okay-ish recall (which is actually a very good recall for one month of work, but I am demanding and impatient). So: not bad, but now that he is My Dog instead of a Temporary Dog, I'm always about wanting more more more.

That's doubly true of Pongu-e. We're working on position practice and paw discrimination exercises. I recently got Julie Flanery's T.A.P. DVDs and realized just how weak our foundations were (Pongu didn't even have a proper Stand cue, that's how feeble we were on foundations), so that's what I'm trying to teach and sharpen up now. Got a ways to go...

The T.A.P. program has also been humbling in that it's shown me several mistakes I was making in my training, such as allowing physical cues to overshadow verbal ones. The solution is so simple that I'm embarrassed I didn't figure it out earlier: instead of giving the verbal cue simultaneously with the gesture, give it a second or two before the gesture, so that the dog learns to anticipate the sequence and is soon performing based on the verbal prompt alone. This is literally twice as fast as what I was doing before, and good lord do I feel dumb for not having realized it sooner.

Oh well. Got it now. Here's Pongu learning "Cross Your Paws" by repeated verbal --> gesture prompts. By the last one he's going on the verbal without waiting for the physical, although unfortunately it's hard to see because each successive repetition shifts him slightly to the left so he's partly out of frame by then.

Goals for the next few weeks: sharpen up Pongu's position exercises, get them performed reliably in Heel and Right position (Pongu's pretty good at Heel, not as good at Right, doesn't have the first clue about Behind, so we'll have to start from zero on that one), and start Crookytail learning the same.

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