Okay, so the major breakthrough is in a relatively small, inconsequential area of my dog training activities, but given the amount of time I’ve put into it, and the fact that I had to adapt my training to work for my dog, I’m pretty pleased with it!
I’ve gotten it into my head that I should teach the dogs some tricks – you know, like shake a paw, wipe your nose, roll over, etc. Jack-Jack caught on to shake a paw within about 5 minutes, using a clicker and some tasty treats. He’s a smart dog, and not afraid to try new things, so it wass quick. It has developed into high five and shake a paw, and we’re working on adding wave to his repertoire. But the real challenge was Grace. Grace is a very, very soft dog that absolutely HATES getting things wrong. If you even use a non-reward marker (like yuck or unh-unh) she will melt into a little puddle. So no matter of treats would encourage her to offer me any behaviors. She’d far rather just sit and look at me . . . trying nothing so she can’t get it wrong.
So with Grace I’ve taken a different approach, and done a more tactile training, actually taking her paw in my hand and adding a cue. This method is slower, and I wasn’t sure it was working, because I didn’t feel like I was seeing any progress. But today, after our target training in the yard (for agility), I thought I’d give it a try. When I asked for her paw and she offered it, I let out a big whoop and fed her a really nice jackpot of treats. She did it several times in a row, so I know it wasn’t a fluke. How awesome is that???? I am so pleased with her! She took a big risk in offering it to me, and I made sure she knew I was beyond happy about it.
So I guess I’m at least a slightly better trainer than I thought . . . and that makes me very happy 🙂 Thanks for letting me indulge!