When last we convened here in cyberspace, I had decided it was time for a little accounting. A report on the State of Bringing Up Presto! What's going really well and what has me banging my head against the wall. To continue:
Go-Outs Presto! began learning the Utility directed jumping go-outs during the first week he was here. Why so early?
First of all, puppy go-outs are really fun. The puppy gets to run a short distance as fast as his little legs will carry him, snatch a treat from a target, then run back to where I'm kneeling and jump for the treat I'm holding. (But not very high)
Second, there won't be a difficult transition later on when the dog who has learned that heel position is a highly desirable place suddenly has to learn all that stuff about running away from me, going straight, going until I tell him to stop, then making a tight turn and sitting. He's nine months old now, and he knows all of it. More importantly, he loves it
Go-outs and heeling are tied for the things I'm most pleased with to date.
Fronts and Finishes Honeybear went all the way to her OTCH without learning to front. Had she been able to front really well, I'll bet we'd have finished a year sooner. Truth be told, I've never had a really good fronting dog. There must be something in the water.
We're working on it. It seems to be coming well with Presto! But who knows?
Finishes are another matter. With Bravo! I have learned belatedly that finishes that looked great to me were actually lousy -- because I was lining him up with my left foot, which points to San Francisco instead of the North Pole. Now that I know, I'm trying not to repeat that mistake with Presto!
How will the little guy's fronts and finishes be in competrition? See you in the ring.
Stand for Exam I guess the stand for exam falls into the same category as Presto!'s staying put problem. (See part one of this little series.) Fundamentally he's a wiggle worm. He's fine on the sit for exam; he has no problem with hands on him. But on the stand . . . well.
The PVC box has so many uses. So I've begun standing him in the box. And here we go with the baby steps again -- tiny baby steps. At first I've stayed really close to him, initially letting him nibble on a treat, then dispensing with the treat. Meanwhile, someone was slowly circling me and the box. A few days later I moved back a couple of steps. Now the circling helper was passing between Presto! and me. And a couple of weeks ago the circler began touching him lightly as she passed his left side. Then touching him twice. Now three times.
Sometime we'll remove the box. Patience, patience, patience, I tell myself.
Taking and holding This, too, has not been accomplished at warp speed. When Presto! was very young, we played a lot with a metal spoon. Just to get him used to having metal in his mouth -- preparing for eventual introduction of the metal scent article.
Later I got serious about, "Take it." (Said softly; there's no loud, threatening verbiage in any of this. I'm not one of those idiots who's yelling at her dog in the next ring.) I started with the leather scent article because I think it's the most, well, "palatable" of the objects I want Presto! to hold in his mouth.
Sitting in a chair -- up at the front of the seat -- I gently pull the dog into a sit, up close between my legs. Palm up, I'm holding the collar under his chin with the object in the other hand. I want him to move toward the object; I'm not thrusting it at him.
We're talking many weeks here, maybe 30 seconds a day. Patience? Oh my God! And finally a couple of weeks ago he opened his mouth and took the leather scent article. Immediate release. Lots of praise, then a treat.
Then on to coaxing him to hold it, not spit it out. Two seconds. Five. Now ten. And that's all I need.
A few days ago I switched, suddenly popping the wooden dumbbell in there. Same holding drill. No problem.
And two days ago I went to the metal article. At first he wanted to spit it out. But we're coming to grips with it now. Think positive thoughts.
Next time: We'll wrap up this little stock-taking review.