Sunday Training Recap – A Sleeve to Rule Them All

Happy Sunday, readers!

This week’s recap isn’t going to be terribly exciting, because for most of the week I was without a vehicle (remember when my truck stranded me last week? Yeah..), not that that stopped me getting to training completely.

On Monday, my trainer was awesome enough to pick Brody and I up for group obedience, which was a huge help. The best thing about group obedience classes, for me, is that they require Brody to be patient.

When I work on my own in my yard, or wherever, we’re constantly going, going, going, unless there’s a specific reason to not, like a long down.

In class, we have to wait our turn to work, and Brody has to just quietly sit or lay in heel position until it’s his turn. This is probably his least favorite thing in the world, so it’s something I’ve really been making an effort to work on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that he wants to work to the point of practically demanding it, but patience is important, especially at AKC events. 😉

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Tuesday, Brody got to go live in the kennels at our trainer’s like a big dog, because I had to travel overnight. I should maybe leave him there more often, because on Wednesday, he was absolutely phenomenal for both our private lesson in the morning and group obedience in the evening (I told y’all I wasn’t playing around with this training stuff).

Unfortunately, we had to miss class on Friday since my truck STILL wasn’t done, but we did some work on retrieves and dumbbell holds at home.

Saturday was club day. I had actually made plans to take Brody over to a neighboring club, but between the issues with my truck and the snow in the mountains making travel slightly scary, we opted to say home and attend club training here.

If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all, you’ll know that the biggest thing we’ve been working on with Brody has been his secondary obedience, or his obedience in protection.

This week was no exception, and we upped the stakes a bit by starting out with a sleeve as bait rather than a wedge.

Brody has a hierarchy of value that he places on different objects. It goes roughly something like this – Tug < Bite Roll < Wedge < Tennis Ball < Sleeve.

Now, we’ve been working with a wedge and a tennis ball, which has made for some pretty easy transitions for Brody. Upping the difficulty a bit by working with a sleeve this week just showed how far we still have to go.

He didn’t completely lose his marbles, but we were definitely flirting with that line, at least at the beginning of the session. He was having a hard time staying clear headed and focused on me.

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The challenging part, for me, is that I can’t really correct him at this stage. Any corrections, as such, bring his drive through the roof and push him into a frustration-fueled fog.

Instead, we have to use a combination of high value rewards and what I call “neutral non-responses”, which is basically just standing there waiting him out.

From an onlookers view point, I’m sure it looks like not much is happening, but it all feels very stressful for me.

By the end of our session (which felt like hours but was actually only 13 minutes), Brody was quickly and easily making the transition between protection and obedience. We still have a long way to go before he’ll be trial ready, but as Shelby keeps reminding me – patiently and meticulously laying the foundation will bring success down the road.

 

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