I haven't worked with Maisy much in the last two weeks. I had a migraine that lasted over a week, and on top of that, the crazy train very suddenly arrived at my job. Seriously- it's been a tough two weeks. So much so that I'm not quite ready to show you where we're at with our heeling. In fact, I had just been planning to skip Training Tuesday entirely. Then this happened out of the blue:
My dog is so smart, you guys.
Okay, this is obviously far from a perfect training session. I make a number of mistakes, and there are definitely things to work on, but check out how awesome she is! She's going out, picking up a dumbbell, coming back, and offering a sit at front!
Here are the things I see in the video:
At :22, Maisy dropped the dumbbell when I reached for it. When I make her pick it up, she resets the sit and ends up all kinds of crooked. I decided to reward it anyway, because this is literally only the fourth time she's offered a sit with the dumbbell. (She did two reps before this video was taken; I was so blown away by it that I made The Husband record the rest of the session. PS- Big shout out to The Husband for tearing himself away from his computer game to do this for me. I love you, honey!)
She drops the dumbbell again at :40 when I ask her to sit. I'm not quite sure why- it doesn't look like I'm reaching for it, but maybe I shifted my weight? Or maybe she was just confused about what I wanted. This is a very new behavior after all.
At :44, I dropped a treat. The resulting 15 seconds of food seeking really slows us down. To make matters worse, I do the exact same thing again at 1:18. I need to put the treats in a pocket or on a nearby shelf instead of holding them in my hand. It's a rookie clicker mistake, and not only do my poor treat handling/delivery skills cause a significant distraction, but they also cause Maisy to start fronting off-center. You can't really tell because of the angle of this video, but she was fronting to the hand holding the cookies. Sigh. I know better.
Maisy drops the dumbbell again at 1:50. Initially, I thought she was doing it in response to me saying “nice”- you can hear me saying that to her in the video. My reasoning for this was that Maisy used to react to praise as if it was a marker signal, like the clicker. (It doesn't help that the word “nice” sounds somewhat like the verbal marker I use with her- “yes.”) I actually had to work pretty hard to help her understand that praise is just praise, and not a predictor of a food treat.
However, upon reviewing the video, I really think that she dropped the dumbbell because I reached for it. I don't think she understands that she's supposed to hold it until my hands are actually on it. Then again, that's some pretty fuzzy criteria, so I need to help provide her with some clarity by introducing a cue like “give” to indicate when she should let go of it, and when she shouldn't
The final two reps- at 2:09 and 2:19- are absolutely beautiful. She's centered and straight. The last one is even fairly close to me! None of her fronts are terrible, but she could definitely be closer overall.
All in all, I'm very happy with this training session. While there are definitely some things to work on, things are coming together nicely- and she even seems to be enjoying it! I hope that she'll continue to see this as a fun game that we play together. I know I do!
More experienced trainers- I'd love to hear your take on this video. Do you agree with my assessments? Do you have any advice? I'm shamelessly looking for suggestions!