Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box

Jun has been challenging me lately. Forcing me to think outside the box. Luckily I'm up to the challenge.

First of all, with her vaulting. I've been trying to get a reverse chest vault and a reverse leg vault for ages, but she will never bring her back feet up and use them to push off of me. So, I started trying to train it with treats, just like I've trained all of her other vaults initially. She got to the point where she would do her RCV and RLV properly for treats, so I got out a disc, and it immediately fell apart again. Hmmm . . . what to do? Well, after some testing, I realized that it's not just asking her to vault for the disc that causes her to lose her mind and lose all track of her feet. It's just having the disc out, anywhere near her. So we went back to vaulting for treats again. Once that was solid, I got out a disc, put it on a table across the room, and asked her to vault for a treat. Her vault totally fell apart, so we worked on it until she calmed down and started thinking again and doing it properly. Then we moved to me holding the disc in my opposite hand, behind my back, still vaulting for a treat. Same issues, and worked through them again. Finally last night, we moved to vaulting for the disc, and she DID IT!!! Her very first real reverse leg vault WITH a disc, pushing off with her back feet like she is supposed to! I was pyched!

Also, I've been working on boundary training with all three dogs, thanks to some inspiration and instruction from Laura. Since I've used and abused "wait" and "stay," I finally came up with the command "fence," since essentially I wanted it to be like there was an invisible fence along the boundary. Elo is doing great! It's so cool to see how well he really understands the concept. If his feet are right at the edge of the boundary and he wants to lay down, instead of sliding his front feet forwards, like he usually does, he will scoot his butt back so his feet don't cross the border. Too cool! Lok is doing well too. Jun on the other hand, does not get it AT ALL! And she is usually my quickest study, so somehow I'm not communicating to her very well what I want. I tried laying a broomstick on the floor along the boundary line, but it didn't help at all. So now what I'm trying is just free shaping the idea of being on the opposite side of a line from me with a broomstick in the middle of the living room. She might have started to catch on a little bit . . . I'm not really sure. If that doesn't work, I think my next step is to go to a higher boundary--something that she actually has to put some effort into stepping over--and gradually lower it. Unless any of you have any other ideas for me.

Finally, I still have Dex. Housetraining is going well. Regular training is going okay. I am amazed at these people on the border collie forums who supposedly have their puppies trained in ALL the basic obedience commands by ten weeks old. Seriously? Dex has the attention span of a gnat. He "knows" sit (I hesistate to use the word "knows" since he only knows it when he wants something from me, and even then, it's iffy. He is getting better at offering eye contact. He is getting better at responding to his name, but if he's distracted--no way! We are working on "lie down." He wouldn't offer it to me. He just kept sitting and starting at me, since that was what I had rewarded in the past. So I'm luring it, even though I hate to. One thing he has gotten really good it is the dinnertime routine. He is expected to sit and wait, with his food bowl in front of him, giving me eye contact, until I release him to eat. We have just recently gotten the eye contact part, but the first day I added that as a criteria, it was so funny . . . he sat and stared HARD at his food for several minutes, clearly exercising every bit of puppy willpower he had not to start eating! Funny! Now he quickly gives me eye contact and gets released to eat.


  1. yay with the vaulting! I should keep that idea in mind for Vito and his tennis ball. It's so frustrating for use to be able to transfer his tricks and training from food to ball, but I think you're idea would be a great transition!

    Also glad the boundary training is going well for at least 2 of the 3! Not sure I have any other ideas on how to help Jun. I usually reccommend differences in flooring at first since most dogs can easily pick up on that, but apparently not Jun! I think you have a good idea with a difference in height (well more of a height barrier). Once a dog gets it I find that it's really easy to generalize. It's just getting the concept that can be hard.

  2. he sat and stared HARD at his food for several minutes

    Haha - GetintomymouthgetintomymouthgetintomymouthGETINTOMYMOUTH!

  3. Hahaha! I'm sure that's exactly what was going through his head!

  4. Good stuff! This is where I struggle with Frankie too. I have difficulty teaching her new disc tricks/moves because she's sooooo focused on getting that frisbee that its like she doesn't give a damn about her own body, as long as she can get that plastic between her teeth.
    Treats are definately a better way to calm her brain enough to work. Never thought of working through with a disc nearby though! I'll have to give it a try!