Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Training Tuesday: High Distraction Obedience

Maisy and I are attending an obedience trial this weekend. I'm hoping to finish her CD-C title. We haven't done much obedience training since our trial in December. Our house is small, and it was cold and dark when I got home from work, making our training field difficult to use. Thankfully, spring came early to Minnesota, and we've been working diligently over the last few weeks!

Today's video is HIGH DISTRACTION. You can't see it, but you can certainly hear the half a dozen or so kids on the playground that's only 30 feet or so away from where we set up. (It's just barely off camera to the right. If you look carefully, you can see the sandy edge of playground in the middle right side of the frame.) You'll also notice that I put a ball on the figure 8 “post” in the beginning. And yes, those are children on bikes in the background- two of Maisy's big triggers.

Some notes: first of all, no, I do not normally train on concrete. I don't think it's good for her joints to run/chase her ball like that, so usually we work on grassy or sandy surfaces. But I didn't think one session would hurt, and I wanted to set up there so we could work near the distractions (and there was a convenient place to set my video camera).

I find it hilarious that Maisy is getting “jump sucked” in the video. I worked hard to build value for the jump. Now I need to help her build some self-control. After the trial, I'll start working on proofing that.

A number of bad habits have reemerged over the winter. She's forging again, her sits are terribly crooked, and she's going wide. I suspect all of this is partially due to her short stature- it's hard to make eye contact when you're close and in proper heel position! Some of it is also probably because she's a little stressed. This was a hard training scenario, and whenever you increase one criteria, you have to loosen the others temporarily.

But I also think that some of her going wide is because of how I walk. Look how my left foot sometimes swings out towards her (and how she compensates for that). It's especially obvious at about 2:30 in the video. Boy, do I have some stuff to work on.

Overall, though, I was really happy with this session. I love Maisy's enthusiasm and engagement during the session. She's giving me a lot of attention, too! Although I have a sneaking suspicion that if we Q this weekend, our score might not be as high as our first time out, I'm pretty excited for the trial anyway. Time spent with my dog is always awesome.


Jen said...

Those are some wicked distractions!

Slightly ignorant obedience question: I know that eye contact can be very, very useful when working together as a team, but is constant eye contact something that can gain/lose points? WAtching some obedience videos, it seems to me some of those dogs must get mighty uncomfortable craning their necks like that after awhile!

Crystal Thompson said...

As far as I know, there is no venue which scores based on eye contact. I agree that it looks uncomfortable, so I never set out to train heeling with eye contact... it just sort of happened. :)

Ximena said...

I'm super impressed! I have only tried obedience in Lowe's so far... summer is coming up, though, which means more people/children/distracting activity in the park. :)

Elli's a multi-sport dog, though -- if only there were more time for training!

Riley and Stella said...

Nice work. My lab loves his ball so much but unfortunately I can't use it for reward as he has a horrible release. We do a lot of tug which he also loves but he is 100 pounds so is tough on my body. On the plus side when I tug with my 40 pound Vizsla it feels super easy :o).

Crystal Thompson said...

There was definitely some learning to be had with training for a ball. She got SO excited that her brains fell out! ;) BUT, all that excitement and happiness has carried over into her heelwork, so it was worth it. For us, the biggest challenge (and the reason my healing videos are all so highly edited), is that training for the ball is SLOW. I throw it, she chases it, and then... she has to walk in a circle, set the ball down, and push it to me with her nose. It's almost OCD, the way she needs to do it, and it's definitely not quick or direct. We get fewer reps in as a result, but I've been happy with the results regardless.

Ci Da said...

I'm doing the exact same thing. Next month I'm hoping to finish up Cohen's CD title (she's 2/2 for Qs thus far) and the part that I really need to work on is maintaining enthusiastic and focused heeling around distractions.

Something that I've decided is working against me is watching my dog too carefully. As she loses interest she'll lag, and since I'm turning my head to watch her I twist my body and slow down, which causes her to lag more, etc. I think I'm going to try to walk at a slightly faster pace and work on looking straight ahead and watch for focus out of the corner of my eye. I want her to work more for my attention than I am for hers!

Good luck on the trial! I can't wait to hear how it goes!

Crystal Thompson said...

Ci Da, I've noticed the same thing. And it's why I both love and hate video. I love seeing what I'm doing wrong, but I hate seeing what I'm doing wrong. I suppose I could make it less embarrassing and not share my terrible handling skills with the whole internet, but... where's the fun in that?

Robin Sallie said...

I think the reason Maisy is more comfortable around kids is because of me. I wonder if she misses me.


Crystal Thompson said...

Kidlet- I don't know about Maisy, but I know that *I* sure miss you!!