25 May 2008

Training Update

We've number a number of small short training sessions in the past few days and made a great deal of progress. Her handling behavior is great. Molly had her nails trimmed with absolutely no stress for anyone. She's also been getting combed a lot. A net friend recommended I try a flea comb to remove the loose hair from Molly's short coat and it works great. It is also really nice right after she's been out in high grass for getting rid of ticks. Her Frontline treatment kills them, but it is even better to get rid of them before they crawl off somewhere in the house or get attached at all.

Her training on distance (aka around) is up to passing level 2 standards. She can also down stay while I walk quite a distance away and back. Her sit stay is a little shakier but it's getting better. She tends to want to down when staying.

I had to recue Molly's target work from the command "nose" to "touch." She was confusing nose with a silly game she played as a puppy hunting mice in the house. I need to extinguish that behavior.

Molly's zen is at least at Level 4 in the Level Book. But she hasn't tried Level 3. It involves a stranger and we don't have many of those in our life right now. We'll have to find out at some point to catch Level 3 Zen. I can put yummy food on the floor and say "leave it" and she'll stay away from it for well over 30 seconds.

Down is also at least at Level 2. I need to read the descriptions better and test her some to see where she really is. Level 2 is down from a sit with 1 cue only and no food or aids. That's easy. My rough guess is actually that she's at Level 5 or 6.

Tonight my husband and I took her out in the fence in the yard and worked on level 2 come. Its goal is to make her excited about coming when called from a distance. It was fun for all three of us and we finished up with fetch. Fetch for us also has downs, down stays, downs from a distance with a distraction (the ball), and walking slowly one step at a time instead of running mixed in with the usual high speed border collie ball chases, jumps, spins, and herding crouches. We had a ball, literally and figuratively.

Molly also really impressed a new friend yesterday (I hadn't read L3 zen yet to know to ask her for help testing that). Molly was running around with a rawhide chew while she was here. The new friend was surprised that she was allowed to take Molly's chew from her and even pretend to chew on it while Molly looked on happily. Molly has basically no food or toy aggression. The only sort of resource guarding she ever showed signs of was not wanting to share my husband with another dog but we quickly got her used to that (a really nice aussie male when she was around 9 months old). Now she does not whine or complain when he talks to other dogs--she knows she'll still get all the love and attention she needs.

Today she made me proud when the farrier came. We let her run out to say hi off leash. She kept four on the floor almost the entire time. She lifted up a little bit at one point in excitement, but didn't try to jump on him. That's a good Molly. He gave her lots of attention (he likes dogs and has met Molly several times before) and we also praised her several times for her excellent behavior.

Another thing about Molly off leash. Since we made that fenced area outside, Molly shows no interest in going away anywhere outside when she's off leash. We leave the gate open (or at least not pushed shut) when there aren't horses or Molly in it. She has learned to open the loose gate with her nose. So if we open the door and tell her to go in the fence, she opens the gate and goes in for a play or to lie down and relax. When we get home from somewhere, we can open the car door and tell her to go to the kitchen or her fence and she does. If she gets to the kitchen before us, she'll lie down and wait or come back or go in the fence. As long as we're around, she even ignores the annoying dog next door that barks most of the time!

Molly's item recognition and retrieve at a distance are also improving. This morning I told her to take pants from a long way away and with a little help, she managed to do it. She also pulled pants out of a pile that included a blanket, a knee brace, and a pair of socks. She had a little trouble locating them at first because they weren't where they usually were, but I was still at a good distance when she located the right item and retrieved it. Don't worry, she got high value treats for that one and praise and a snuggle. She's a good Molly.

It's been a long day so I'm overdue for sleep now. Molly is already dozing on the couch beside me. She'll be happy to move onto her bed in the kitchen so she won't be disturbed further tonight.

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