Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Dumbbell work

So I didn't end up entering the Cal K9 obedience trial. I really really wanted to, but the more I practised, the more I realised I need to work on Spryte's dumbbell mouthing first.  When holding a dumbbell she tosses her head back, rolls the dumbbell to her molars and chews and throws her head around at the same time.  Sometimes she just flat out drops in on the floor. It's ugly and I want to fix it.

So it's back to the drawing board for our dumbbell work.  I have started tying a string to it and teaching her to keep holding the dumbbell or I'll pull it out of her mouth.  And she knows that the only way you get a cookie is to have the dumbbell between her teeth when I say "yes".  When I first started this exercise any little bit of pressure with the string and the dumbbell would come rocketing out of her mouth. Basically she wasn't really holding it at all.  Once she realised that if she didn't hold it, the dumbbell would leave and all chances of getting  a cookie left too, she began to hold tighter and resist my pressure forward.  Now I can pull really hard and she clamps down on the dumbbell and doesn't let go.  I am excited about this progress, if she is holding it tight she can't roll it back in her mouth or drop it on the floor.

Next step is getting her moving with it and still maintaining the same hold.  I started this yesterday and it's going pretty well.  First I put her in a sit a few feet away from me. Then gave her the dumbbell with the string attached.  I backed up a few steps, start applying pressure and then called her to front.  Just as I expected the first few times I did this the dumbbell came hurling towards me as she relaxed her mouth while moving into front position.  She didn't know how to keep holding tight while in motion.  Again several repetitions later she realised what she needed to do and was able to move towards me and not drop the dumbbell.  Lots of cookies for Spryte!

It will probably take us a long time before her dumbbell holding is improved to a point that I can show her.  But at least we are making progress.  I wish I had of done more foundation skills initially with the dumbbell and holding tight.   But my last two obedience dogs understood quickly how to hold a dumbbell without any special training, and I assumed Spryte would be the same.  It has been a good reminder to me not to skip steps along the way and that every dog is an individual. I'll do it different with the next dog. <grin>  how many times have we all muttered those words!.

All the pictures in this post are from todays walk (Spryte is still very naked after having puppies!).