Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Class

So Scorch and I are enrolled in the sequel to our competition class. He'd done extremely well in it, as the focus had been mostly on Novice-type exercises.

Last night, we were reminded of just how much more we have to learn. That is awesome.

I'm really thrilled to have such a challenge laid before us. We're really focusing on breaking down much more complicated behaviors. Teaching the dumbbell alone is making me a better trainer, because it's such a beautiful exercise that is so much more complicated than it looks.

Jack had always been thrilled to clamp down on the dumbbell. Hell, he would pick up a steel pole if I'd asked him to. The pit bull in him blessed him with strong jaws and a certain lack of sensitivity.

Scorch, meanwhile, is fastidious and sometimes known as "princess tender toes". He has to carefully dissect and ponder his raw meals before eating them. Here he is with a marrow bone I gave the boys after we earned our first two CD legs:

He would pretend to eat it, or attempt to gently, if Bryan or I came near.

But mostly he just laid there, wondering what the heck he was supposed to do with something so hard and tough.

Finally, I took pity on the pathetic pup (ooooo, alliteration) and put the camera down in order to HOLD THE BONE FOR HIM. With some encouraging words, he finally licked at the marrow and decided the bone was tasty enough to ignore it's unforgiving texture.

Wolfie, meanwhile, was in a corner going to town.

The point of all this is that Scorch is reluctant with the dumbbell. He will eagerly bump it with his nose, but taking it in his mouth was a process. Now I want him to hold it? "Please," he seems to say, "you're asking a WHOLE lot of me here."

I've considered buying a softer dumbbell, but he does seem more inclined to hold on to it now, so we'll continue. I just may have to get used to the difference between soft-mouthed Scorch, who lets the dumbbell gently rest between his teeth, and bully Jack, who left many teeth marks in this hard plastic monstrosity.

Since the dumbbell is still a work in progress, I sent him on a retrieve over the jump with a rope toy. Bev asked me if he would stay while I threw the toy, and I assured her, somewhat tentatively, that he would. So I commanded him to stay, threw the toy, and over the jump he sailed! Whoops. So I held onto him for the next couple of tosses until he remembered what "stay" meant. And we encountered a new problem. My jump-loving dog has decided he only wants to jump over towards the rope, and then he wants to run wide around it to return to me. Hmm. It could be because he's playing, rather than dealing with the more serious dumbbell, but I want to nip this early. So I'd send him, and as soon as his head moved towards the toy, commanded "Scorch JUMP", while moving myself closer to the jump. That seemed to remind him what he was supposed to do (and he only got a game of tug when he successfully completed it). I have plans (and the wood) to build a heavy duty high jump, but it looks like I may need a light one for the hallway too, so he doesn't have the option of going around.

Signals went well, and Scorchie was the only one who would consistently drop from a stand without moving foward. His signal sit from a down has always needed work, but we got a complete success after a few tries so we ended it there. Our foundation work in that respect really paid off. I'm going to be careful not to overdo the drop before our next show though, where we have stand for exams. We need to refresh that a whole bunch.

The broad jump is definitely his favorite, and it was cute when he went searching for the treat I didn't throw. He remembered it and is always happy to sail over them (although he nicked it with his feet on the first try).

We've got a whole lot of homework, but the new tasks are a refreshing addition to our Novice practice work.

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