Dog Training on the 4th of July

At 6:30 the morning of the fourth, while the heat index was “only” in the eighties, I eagerly dragged the dog obedience jumps from the garage and set them up in the back yard.  The goal for the day was to train the dogs for twenty minutes, let them rest for awhile and then repeat the training/rest schedule two to three times during the day. 

The first training session was fun and my goals were accomplished.  Levi sat about twenty feet past the high and bar jumps, centered in the middle of the “ring” setup.  He looked across the lawn at me, anticipating whether I’d direct him to the bar or high jump.  If I shifted my eyes right he glanced to his left and shifted his feet, “Got it, mom. I’m locked in.  The left jump.  Got it.”  At the last show during the Graduate Open class I discovered, among many things, that he watches my every move for a hint of what is coming next.  Thus if I look directly at him that must mean the recall right?  So now while practicing the directed jumping I stare directly at him, hesitate and then give him a signal to jump.

Next up was Mickey, who doesn’t really have a complete idea of the directed jumping but is a willing player.  The first try, instead of standing directly in front of him fifty feet across the ring, I stood more in line with the jump.  He easily took the jump.  Foolishly thinking he was therefore ready to progress I moved a foot closer toward the center of the ring.  Nope, Mickey still believes the shortest distance between two points is the direct route.  “Oopsie, “ I tell him, no cookie.  He maintained his attitude and was eager to try again.

Ten year old River is always anxious to earn a cookie and he seems to enjoy playing the game the other dogs like so much.  He had no problem with his directed jumping so he was released to lay down in the shade again. 

The training session ended with some dumbbell training with Mickey.  He grabs the dumbbell on command.  Not to make excuses (who me?) but he is a heavy coated Border Collie, originally from Michigan, and it is hard for him to pant and do a solid hold.  I know, I know.  The other two dogs can do it but it is hard for Mickey.  My goal is to continue to reinforce the hold by making a game of it, “Ready, ready, ready, get it!  Good hold.  Out.”  He also understands clicker training, which is a good tool to reinforce his hold and get rid of his habit of rolling the dumbbell in his mouth like a tasty liver coated stick. 

All good plans must have contingencies in the event of bad weather, too much good weather or unforeseen events.  The second training session did not happen.  The cool morning air and clouds did not bring the forecasted rain.  Instead it became hot and sticky, not a good time to work on recalls and more jumping.  The third attempt in the evening also did not result in a training session.  The neighbors decided not to wait for darkness to set off their fireworks.  Oh, well.  At least we had a good day together, training and playing in the back yard.  There is plenty of time to work on more Novice/Open/Utility/Rally training this summer.

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