Friday, May 28, 2021

Otto at 9 Months and our Retrieving Journey


Otto doesn't really have a retrieve. Or so I have said repeatedly over the past 5 months. 

What I meant was, Otto doesn't play "fetch" like my border collies. My experience, up to this point, has been with dogs that either play fetch (anytime, anywhere, as long as someone will throw the toy--Lok, Jun, and Ira) or don't play fetch (Elo--unless it was with a baseball that he found himself at the park, or occasionally in the basement when he felt like it). My attempts to build a fetch game with Elo utterly failed. He would turn his head as if he did not see either me or the toy I was attempting to engage him with and ignore me until I gave up. 

As a disc dogger, I have always felt I was pretty proficient in training the various aspects of a game of fetch, and my dogs who have played fetch automatically from the moment they came home had aspects of the game that they needed training on: releasing the toy on cue, carrying the toy until given a verbal drop cue, switching to another toy.  What they haven't needed work on was being interested in toys to begin with, picking up the toy, or bringing it back to me.

"Otto doesn't really have a retrieve," I told multiple people, with some level of embarrassment. And I could feel their judgment, probably all in my head, but I could feel it nonetheless. After all, he's a retriever. A poodle. He's supposed to retrieve more or less automatically.  He's supposed to want to run after the thrown ball, pick it up, and bring it back to me. And I'm a dog trainer. I'm supposed to be able to get my dog to retrieve. And his parents and siblings are retrieving fools.

At 12 weeks, he would run after a toy, and bring it back to me to chew in my lap. He would tug, sometimes, but not with a ton of enthusiasm and not with just any toy. I set about "working on his play skills" with the games that are supposed to work. Games of two-toy, cheering him on when he tugs, or brings the toy back, letting him win. It was a bust. By 15 weeks, he wasn't playing at all. He turned up his nose at almost any toy. He refused to pick up a ball. Occasionally he would paly fetch with a piece of trash or some "forbidden" item. Mostly when I could get him to play with a tug toy, he would just roll on his back and bat at the toy like a cat. Amusing, but not really what I was hoping for in my sport dog.

I told myself his mouth was hurting, and I mostly believed it. He was teething. And he had a base narrow canine hitting the roof of his mouth. I told other people his mouth was hurting, and they raised an eyebrow. And I truly wondered if I was just making excuses for him. And then, the day after he lost the offensive canine, at around 6 months old, he started to pick up balls for fun, and I started to feel a little vindicated.

Since then, and since his adult teeth have come in and resolved themselves (with the help of a minor oral surgery) his interest in toys has grown. He tugs now, he enjoys balls and frisbees, and he has started to simply carry things around in his mouth like his other siblings do. 

But I have continued to lament that he doesn't have a retrieve. He doesn't play fetch. And it's not that he NEEDS to play fetch. But if he enjoyed it, it would make his obedience and potential hunting career a lot more fun for him. I scoured hunting resources for how to teach a dog to enjoy fetching and came up empty.

And then, a couple weeks ago, I remembered that I am a disc dogger. I have these skills.

I had given up on using the techniques I know to build his play skills because his interest in toys was simply not high enough for them to work. He is also a sensitive dog and "cheerleading" him is perceived as pressure and he will shut down. BUT now he has enough interest in toys that maaaaybe I can teach him some different ways to play, and that they are fun! 

First off, I brought back two-toy, and it was an instant success. He tends to value possession and he likes to take his toy and go lay down with it. But if I have an identical toy and play with it on my own, he seems to think that the toy I have might be more interesting than the one he has, and he wants it. So that has been somewhat successful. He's shown sustained interest in playing disc with a second identical disc to lure him back to me.

The second game I've used is called "tiny tugs." Rather than a long drawn-out game of tug, and letting him win, I give a tiny tug on the toy, let go, and back up. He follows me, and I repeat. This has been teaching him to drive to me with the toy for the fun to continue, and since there's no long, drawn-out fight for the toy, he doesn't feel he's "won" it and feel the need to take it and go off by himself.

 Thirdly, it occurred to me that chasing (preferably being the chasee, but being the chaser is a close second) is SUPER high value for him. I took him out with a single disc the other day, and when he'd pick it up, I RUN, sometimes just in a straight line back and sometimes all around the yard. When I stopped running, he'd come to me with the disc and release it for another throw. This is the closest he's gotten to a real game of fetch! I've also been doing the same when working his trained bumper retrieves and it's increased the enthusiasm of his return.

Finally, picking up a "dead" (i.e. still/motionless) toy (or bird, which is also literally dead) has been a struggle. But stealing things is also SUPER high value for him. So I've started playing a game of "race me to the bumper." If I get there first, I get it. If he gets there first, he gets it, and so far I have to "let" him win, but still, it seems to be showing promise. He is starting to drive to the bumper with a lot more enthusiasm! 

 I don't know if he will become a dog who places a high value on a game of "fetch," but he's certainly come a long way in literally two weeks. If he had persisted in not valuing toys, despite resolution of his mouth pain, I don't know where we would end up. But luckily his interest in toys has grown naturally, and hopefully I can continue to shape it into a cooperative partnership that he will find more fun than laying down with his toy. 

As far as the rest, Otto continues to blow me away! 


  • Otto is sending to a dumbbell at 10-15', picking up, and returning to me with a quiet mouth. He can sit with the dumbbell in his mouth. We haven't introduced a front with it.
  • He has both down-from-stand, and sit-from down on signals only at 10-15' and I've started introducing doing both, one, after the other.
  • He has a great moving down with the "follow the food" game, and I've been able to build up to a fast walking speed. He is also doing really well with his moving sit, but we've had that for awhile.
  • His heeling is super cute and precise. Endurance is our main struggle with that. I've found that he enjoys trotting after me while I run backwards, so we will use that to help build up some endurance for the head-up position he needs for heeling.
  • He's a sent article whiz, with 100% accuracy on mixed articles (no retrieve yet) in all kinds of environments.
  • We've started baby directed jumping with cones. 
  • He marks and sends to a stanchion at 10-15'
  • He marks and sends to a food target at 20 yards
  • His sit at a distance is getting there at about 6'
  • His front is really coming along, even from extreme angles, and he understands side-passing and pivoting in front position
All in all, he has tiny pieces of almost everything he needs for his obedience career.  He's also in an agility foundations class and he just amazes me every week. We're doing wrapping cones with front and rear crosses, sends through hoops to foot targets, turning on narrow boards, and all kind of other stuff. He just seems to get it, and it's so fun!

Finally, we took a hunting seminar this month. As I note above, he "doesn't have a retrieve" so what we did in class didn't look a whole lot like bird dog work. BUT, it was awesome exposure! He got to hear a lot of gunfire and was unphased. He worked on focus in a hugely distracting environment. He got to pick up both long-dead and freshly killed ducks and run with them in his mouth. He got to practice looking at a mark thrown by another person. It was a great start and we both learned so much!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Otto at 6 Months

It's been almost a month since my last update. Otto is now 6.5 months old and he is just perfect! He's really getting to be such a nice dog! He and Jun can be out together, though he gets a little excited and crazy still. She gets grumpy at him and he thinks it's hilarious to provoke her and then dodge out of the way of her teeth. Of course, I don't let it go too far. He's been so good in his crate lately, no barking when I'm at home and less barking when I'm gone. Now that teething is over, he's less bitey and will sometimes just sit on the couch with me for pets. He doesn't really understand cuddling yet though. He is getting to be a great little walking buddy! He walks nicely on a loose leash 90% of the time and we've begun doing neighborhood walks as the weather has gotten warmer. Yesterday he got to do a long line hike and stuck close and came when called. I even took him off leash a couple times. We are still learning how to respond to people and dogs in the environment, but his reactions have gotten less extreme. I need to do some more work with him in higher-population areas and on busy walking paths, but we're definitely getting there! 

Otto is in multiple different classes and training groups. He regularly comes to Monday night training with Jess, Lauren, Morgan, and Maureen. We've been doing more and more real obedience work at training night, and usually take the opportunity to work on CGC greetings. We're now at the stage where someone can walk up and touch him and he will hold his sit. He's also doing well at being somewhat polite when I release him to "say hi." Mostly, his feet stay on the floor, though his favorite greeting is still the gentle wrist bite (AKA mouth hug) and I love it so much, I won't correct it.

New this week, he is working off leash around other people and staying with me! 

He graduated from Tuesday night puppy class! I'm sure if he understood that he would be sad that puppy playtime is done. I need to try to arrange more playdates for him as the weather warms up. He loved playtime and did a fantastic job recalling away from play! It was surprising to me, given how excited he gets about FRIEEEENDSSS how well he was able to settle and work while he waited for playtime, how well he recalled away from play, and how well he was able to settle after playtime. The dog is a social butterfly, but still has a brain and loves his work! His favorite friends were a litter of 13 week old PWDs that joined class the last week. We stayed an extra week to play with them again. He was like the ringleader of a gang of tiny Ottos! It was the cutest thing ever! 

He started big boy obedience class and is in the Wednesday night class before Ira's. He's absolutely blowing me away with his progress on obedience! More on that below.

He also just started Friday night Sport Foundations. This class is new to me and I'm not sure exactly what it covers. I think a lot of agility foundations and other basic sport skills. Last week, the class worked on front and rear crosses with cones and start line stays and sends with buckets. Otto wraps a cone at home, but wasn't sure what to do at class, so we worked on generalizing his cone wrapping skills and adding distance to his send to a bucket.

Obedience-wise, we're in a stage where Otto is not necessarily learning many "new" things, but advancing known behaviors. It's crazy to me that we've hit that stage already. This week, we're focusing on down-from-stand. I decided I want this to be a fold-back down. We've been working on luring that motion for several months and in the past couple of weeks, I've made him responsible for initiating the movement himself and started adding a verbal cue "lie down." I am hoping to transition to a hand signal ASAP., as I loooove how well he is already responding to his sit-from-down signal. Ira took YEARS to get as much distance and reliability as Otto already has. With Ira, I made the mistake of adding in hand signals to his training far too late.

We're also working on fronts and so far I'm loving the results I'm getting with the method I'm using. Of course, fronts and finishes are a lifetime journey and never done, but I've added a cue already and Otto has shown a real knack for understanding concepts of "position in relation to me" so I think fronts will not be a terrible struggle with him.

We are nearing the end of the tooth journey! Otto's left canine resolved on its own and his right canine very nearly resolved, so he ended up only needing a very minor surgery to plane his gums so that the tooth is no longer hitting and digging into gum tissue. No orthodontics, no cutting down the tooth, and no extractions! I knew I named this boy Stroke of Luck for a reason! One more week of heeling and we can start working on retrieves and toy play in earnest and I can stop worrying about pain!   

I absolutely adore this dog! I don't know how I lived without him for so long. He is good natured, friendly, sweet, funny, and smart with a great work ethic, lots of talent, and super handsome to boot! I truly lucked out with him!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Otto at 25 Weeks

 I missed a week of documenting because I spent most of last week getting ready to put on an obedience/rally show last weekend. Otto attended his first dog show, and he was SUCH a champ! It was a lot of crate time. More than he's ever had to do in his life, and he was good and quiet. He was also able to walk through crowds of people and dogs and even did some really nice work! 

We didn't accomplish too much last week training wise. But this week has been great!

  • Heeling - I couldn't put it off any longer, we're actually doing it! No platforms or boxes. Hell, not really any lures. He was BORN to do this! Just a few days in, he's giving me beautiful side-passes, backing up in heel, left turns, left pivots (moving his front end back AND his rear-end behind like it's the most natural thing in the world) and right pivots. He even gave a perfect left finish on his own, like "this is where I belong," Yes, buddy, yes it is!! 😍
  • Down to sit on a signal. This is really coming along! He is responding correctly from two steps back. When he has this at 5', I will start working on his down-from-stand signal.
  • We went to our first big boy obedience class--he is now a drop-in in the class before Ira's. The agenda was heeling and position changes, and he is not quite to the level of the other dogs, but the work he IS doing is very good! We also worked choose to heel in class and his heel position of choice is absolutely perfect, as well as dynamic and prancy. I just love this dog!
  • Scent articles are absolutely no problem for him. He's working metal, leather, wood, and rubber; up to 15 articles at a time; mixed materials; and switching from one target material to another. 
  • Stand-stay is looking great! I am now able to walk all the way around him and have introduced other proofing, like moving objects around him.
  • We also checked of "find heel from two angles" on a box for the TEAM 1. We are also working on putting his back up on a verbal. So we really just need fronts and position changes. I need to get back to working fronts.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Otto at 23 Weeks

 This was our 11th week together, almost three months! I am so pleased with what we accomplished this week! We rocked the goals we set last week.

  • Articles: Otto has been 100% on 6 metal articles, so I introduced wood. He had NO problems with wood and is working 7 wooden articles at 100%. I decided to mix substrates. He was 100% on 13 metal and wood when searching for a single substrate within a session. The next session, I started with metal and then switched to wood. That caused some confusion, so we need to work on this next week. I also introduced leather today. Leather was harder, but he got it and was working 6 articles by the end of the session.
  • Hold: I am SO proud of what we accomplished on this behavior in one week. We have a solid one-second, independent, quiet hold on a PVC pipe. I am going to put this away now until his teeth are done coming in.
  • Down to Sit on signal: It took most of the week for him to pick up on the hand signal without a food lure. Now he's sort of got it. Today, he was anticipating the hand signal and just popping up into his sit. It's all a part of the learning process. I am really liking beginning this behavior on a hand signal only. A year from now his mind won't be blown when I try to switch cues on him
  • Sit at a distance: He really seems to have this down! I was able to add more distance, vary direction, and I'm not getting any steps forward. He is anticipating the game though, and sitting as soon as he eats the treat, not necessarily on my cue.
  • He was great again in puppy class. We worked on sit-stay. Today we worked sit-stay at home and we got up to 20 seconds.
Our official goals by 1 year old are the CGC and I think I might also go for a TEAM 1. With the CGC, the hard part will be polite greetings, but we are working on this every opportunity we get. It will also be difficult to do the test without treats. 

For TEAM 1, we have a really good start on all of the behaviors!
  • 10 second engagement and 180 pivot ✔ 
  • Find heel from two angles: this can be done either on a pivot bowl in a stand position or on a box in a sit. He can already do it on the pivot bowl, but I want to do it on the box. We need to clean this up. He's good about sitting on his box, but is not always straight.
  • Find front from two angles: again can be done on a pivot bowl or box. We're still working on the pivot bowl and have not started the box work in front yet.
  • Position changes: sit and down from 5': They can be done on a platform in any order. I would like them to be stand-->down-->sit on signals, so we have a ways to go on this one
  • Back up two feet: We have the behavior, just need to get it on cue
  • Send to vertical target from 5 feet ✔
  • Jump: he's not old enough yet, but this is easy--just going over a jump that is 1/3 of his height
  • Go around an object from 5 feet ✔
  • Scent articles: find the correct article out of three  ✔
  • Stay with release: sit or down stay while handler places a treat 5-10' away and returns to heel, after two seconds, goes on release. ✔
Goals for next week:
  • Progress scent articles: mixed substrates, adding distance that I am from the pile
  • Continue working sit signal.
  • See if he can do a fold-back down with 4 stationary feet and start luring that more. That will be the next signal I work on.
  • Keep working fronts and finishes.
  • Add a cue to back-up

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Otto at 22 Weeks

 We had a slower week this week. Otto rocked puppy class Week 3! We are getting to a point where certain exercises need to be advanced, but we're not quite ready to advance them, and others aren't quite ready to be started. 

  • We started scent articles last week and he is now confidently searching among six articles with 100% accuracy! 
  • His spin is nearly on a verbal. I've just about faded the hand signal. Right now all he needs is a little finger-flick.
  • Sit at a distance is coming along slowly. We're working with a barrier. I think the lie down will be easier.
  • Play ball retrieves for food. We are doing ball therapy to try to get his adult canines to sit in the right spot as they come in. 
  • I think his mouth is at a place where he may be ready to start learning a shaped hold. We may give that another try this week.
  • Sit-stay and Stand-stay. We've been able to get a stand-stay walk-around this week! I guess I can start proofing that stand-stay harder. I'm really anxious to start working more on his positions, but physically he's not quite there yet. I've started working on his tuck sit with front feet on a 1x4 board and his back feet are just so sloppy. I need to figure out what he's doing mechanically without the board because his sits look good to me on their own. He has a tendency to sit crooked that I think is more related to building strength and coordination than anything. I started luring the fold-back down and stand-from down. When he was younger, he always needed to move a front foot on the stand. Now he is able to stand with all feet planted. I could start working on his sit from down. 
Ok, I think I'm organized for the week ahead. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Otto at 21 Weeks

Otto is 19.5" and 28lb, 10oz! On Tuesday his puppy harness fit. On Thursday it didn't. Where did this big dog come from and what happened to my tiny puppy?!

We gave a full groom a whirl this week. Bath, blow-dry, some scissoring. It went FAR better than our last attempt, having taken the past month to do some desensitization with the blow drier. He was trooper! This week, we've been working every day on laying on his side on the grooming table, which he understandably finds kind of scary. Yesterday I was able to get him to lay on both sides on the table for brushing. I am hopeful that with continued practice he'll be able to relax on his side while I blow dry him. We've also been working every day on putting bands in his topknot. He's gotten pretty good at keeping his head on a pillow while I brush and part and mess with his hair, but putting the band in is still challenging for some reason. 

Puppy class went WAY better this week! On Saturday we practiced with Otto's friend Everest at his house. We had a training-and-play-date and worked on focusing around another puppy, LLW past another puppy, etc. They also played together really nicely. 

For our class we switched to the earlier class with bigger puppies in it. Otto acted like I had done some training with him a time or two, so that was nice! He recalled past puppies, he recalled away from play, and he LLW through the entire group! Big improvement! He mostly remembered on his own to focus on me. He also had a much better time playing with this group, and we even one of the less rambunctious ones. He's so cute how he flirts with other puppies by licking their faces.

We went to a hunt test! I went to watch and Otto went to listen to gunfire. He was completely un-phased by it, so that was great! The friend who invited me encouraged me to enter him in the puppy stakes, but considering I haven't worked on retrieving with him like at all, and haven't paired retrieving with gunfire, we decided not to embarrass ourselves. It was fun to watch though! I am looking forward to teething being over and snow being gone so we can really start to work on hunting-related skills.

In the continued adventure of integrating the dogs, Jun and Otto trained TOGETHER! Otto worked on sitting on his station while Jun worked, and he was mostly great! By his third time returning to his station he could no longer contain his wiggling and wiggled right off of it! Jun did a great job ignoring him!

This week, we worked on:
  • Marking an empty target on cue and distinguishing between mark and attention cues.
  • Pivot platform fronts and finishes. I love this drill for teaching straightness on fronts and distinguishing between fronts and finishes, and he picked right up on it! Next step is to my myself closer to the platform for fronts. 
  • We continued to work on finding heel position on a sit platform.
  • We worked on a bounce-touch for solid/square sits and increased energy/engagement. He has gone from not really enjoying or being enthusiastic about hand touches to loving them! He's different from the border collies in that way. They are fast-twitch about everything. They do everything with enthusiasm and energy whether they understand what they're doing or not. Otto can be slower at first, and I usually panic, worried about him shutting down on me or that this is the "poodles can't handle repetition" that I have always heard about. My breeder suggested that maybe he just didn't "get" hand touches, like maybe he thought there was more he should be doing. I think she was right. He's very much a thinker and I feel like he can be slow with things while he is thinking them through, figuring them out, putting all the pieces in place, and then his enthusiasm picks up with his level of understanding. 
  • Added distance to his nose-touch to stanchion. Another nose touch behavior and he really seems to enjoy booping the stanchion with his nose. He's more enthusiastic about this than I had expected.
  • We started working on a cued "spin" because I got bored of working other stuff and he needs more tricks. I lured this, because Ira's shaped spin is atrocious and more of a pivot on his front and whip his butt into things kind of move. I am working on fading my lure and adding a verbal. It's going ok, but it's slow, which is why I don't usually train like this. He's started to sometimes offer a little head turn on the verbal.
  • We worked on nosework every day and worked on spreading out the containers and putting them in different places. It's coming along!
  • We started scent articles!! Since I have the concepts of sustained nose touch and searching for odor from nosework, this is coming super easily and he's already starting to catch on to what pays! I love shaping articles!
  • We started working on sit out of motion at a distance. I am tossing a treat, waiting for him to eat it, and calling a sit. He should not move after I call the sit. We are still working pretty close up, and have only done one session on this, but it's going well. I will focus more on this next week.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Otto at 20 Weeks

 The most exciting happening of the week....the dogs are fully integrated! No more sheets over the ex pen! Of course, Jun is still her bitchy, guardy self and takes every opportunity to throw her chin over his back and growl if he gets within 3' of her. And Ira is still his weird self and chooses to spend most of his time in his crate. But I can now do things like let two dogs walk from the car to the house together! We'll see if they ever develop any more relationship that mere (mostly) peaceful co-existence, but I am fine with what we have.

The first picture of Otto with either of his siblings!

It's been a really cool training week! I've introduced a lot of big boy concepts, like stimulus control, cue discrimination and intervals/chaining! 

Cue discrimination: He has several behaviors somewhat on a verbal (sit, settle, touch, peek, superdog) so we started working on mixing up those cues and learning that you have to listen to the word I am saying. Touch and peek are easy, because there is body language associated with them. Sit and settle get mixed up a lot, which is completely expected at this stage. All I want is for him to start to learn that all of his tricks can be mixed up together and he has to listen to know which one will pay.

Intervals/chaining: The concept of having to do more than one behavior before getting a reward and that if you don't get a reward after one behavior it doesn't mean you were wrong. Within the cue discrimination game, sometimes I will ask for more than one trick before I pay, simple as that.   

Stimulus control: Doing the behavior only when I ask for it and only on the cue for that behavior. So this has two parts. First, I have introduced nonsense words. In his sit-out-of-motion exercise, I will also say random words that he hasn't been taught, and he should only sit when he hears "sit." At first he would sit when I would say anything, but he caught onto this really quickly! 

Cute story: I was saying random words and had moved onto colors. I said "blue" and he kept following me, I said "yellow" and he stopped dead in his tracks and gave me the funniest look. I couldn't figure out why he had such a reaction to the word "yellow" and later I realized that "yellow" was one of his sisters! So it was definitely a word he had heard before.

The other part of stimulus control is "do the behavior ONLY when cued" and I hate teaching this because it inevitable results in some confusion at first and I don't like to confuse my dogs. Maybe there is a better way to teach it without confusion, I should think about that. I am using my foot target, called "step." So, once Otto is consistently offering the foot target, I name it, and after a bunch of repetitions, once he is consistently "responding" to the cue, I wait and don't give the cue. Of course, he goes to the target because that is the behavior we are working on. If I did nothing, he would probably offer other behaviors on the target, come back to me and go to the target multiple times, before getting frustrated and just laying down or something. I like to help my dogs a bit more than that though while they are learning this concept. When he goes to the target uncued, I will talk him through it "ope, I didn't ask for that! come'on bud," call him back to me, reward near me and when he offers eye contact I will give him his cue. Once the dog gets this, they really, really get the idea of performing behaviors on cue and it makes their behaviors so much stronger! 

Otto started puppy class this week, finally! He was.....a challenge. He's gotten really good at ignoring (pretending to ignore) people and dogs in public and focusing on me, but four other puppies in a small room was just way too big a jump for him. We worked outside the ring for half the class and were able to move into the ring by the end, but it was literally constant work to maintain his focus. The class includes playtime, but all the other puppies were younger and smaller than he was, so they weren't really feeling his vibe. I emailed the instructor and next week we're going to the later class, with puppies that are closer to his size: a golden, lab, boxer, and doodle. We have 5 weeks left of puppy class and then I am hoping we'll get off the waiting list for Sports Foundation.

First attempt at puppy horns

 We worked on SO MUCH this week:

  • Back-up: up to 8 continuous steps and I have put it away while I decide what to do with it. I don't really use it for anything, so I'm not sure what my cue or criteria should be.
  • Cooperative Care: We worked on this a LOT. We worked "flat" on both sides and moved it to the grooming table, which he doesn't really care for and I don't blame him. It's small, and I'd certainly be worried about falling off. But we're getting there. We worked on "pillow" which is resting his head on a pillow while I mess with his topknot and ears. He got the basic behavior, including duration, in about 10 seconds. Adding in my using both hands to comb his hair and such has taken a little more work, but as you can see above, he actually let me put ponytails in and I was so impressed! His hair is hanging in his eyes terribly these days, so this is an important skill. We also worked on using his chin rest for a practical purpose, which is resting his chin one one hand while I use the other hand to mess with his head.
  • Foot target: Cue "step." Worked on a lot of stuff with this. Adding distance to the send, stimulus control as described above, and working on marking a target that doesn't have food on it and distinguishing between eye contact, mark, and send. We just started this, so I will get video next week, but my hope is he will have a far better mark than Ira does and will give me a sustained look at a target on cue. Once we have this down with one foot target, I'll add multiple and that will be the beginning of a directed retrieve.
  • Sit on a platform: All I wanted was to teach him to tuck sit on a platform and he ended up basically giving me left finishes on his own, so....ok!! We also started working on his sit-stay this week, and worked up to a walk-around-to-heel.
  •  Nose touch to a stanchion: for go-outs