Friday, April 24, 2009
He's lucky he's cute
I was going to take the camera to the Rez this morning to try to get some nice pictures of Strummer and maybe the Great Blue Heron that was there the other day but we had a little 'incident' this morning after which all thoughts of photography fled my brain. I let Lola run up Strummer's dogwalk plank/table combo thingy which is up at a height of 4' and instead of running back down it like she's been taught she decided to jump from the top of the 4' table. Then about 2 seconds into my heart attack Strummer, who's been doing so well with his self control exercises and only yesterday managed a sit stay while Lole flew through the weaves right next to him, came flying through the screen in the bedroom window. He is lucky I know about the calming deep yoga breaths is all I have to say. Then to add insult to injury once I got to work the little stinker ate part of my breakfast.
You could forgive me if he was dog #1 but he is dog #3, he's supposed to be perfect, impeccably trained. Ironically dog #1 (Cody) would never dream of flying through a window screen or stealing food even if you left a plate of steaming hot pizza on the floor while you went in the other room and I know this because I've done it. And I never trained him either it's just something he never would do.
Of course not, I'm a good boy. I say we send Strummer away and I get all his food.
Lola might put on her pirate hat and raid the cabinets on occasion when we leave her home alone and she's feeling naughty but she'd never steal food off my desk if I left her alone in my office.
Anyway, I've spent the past couple of weeks trying to figure out where Strummer's lovely dogwalk has gone. After much experimenting and way too many misses I've determined that I didn't do a good job of fading the treat gizmo. After many sessions in the 50-75% success range without the gizmo I finally had a perfect 6/6 hit this a.m. when I brought the gizmo back out. I tried fading it by randomly throwing a toy in his path for reward but he'd run right over it and head for the gizmo. I think he'd much rather have a toy than kibble out of the gizmo but he's so conditioned to going to the gizmo that I'm not sure he even noticed the toy.
The other problem is that I've been using a toy to rile him up before his practice sessions as a form of proofing him for excitement but I don't think he's ready. This morning I realized I could barely get him to heel by my side he was so overexcited before we'd even started so I didn't let him onto the plank until he'd calmed enough to do some heels, sits and downs which is how I was warming him up previously. I think the key will be to fade the gizmo more slowly and then gradually increase the excitement level. He needs to be able to run and think while excited to be sure but we need to work up to it more gradually. Or maybe he needs some Valium. Or maybe I need some Valium.