01 June 2008

Practicing with Distractions

We spent Sunday afternoon at DH's parents. They live in town and have a fenced yard. Molly loves to go there and is always eager to play in the yard. But this time she had to behave for a while until DH erected a fence around the newly planted vegetable garden. With him banging posts into the ground and messing with fencing and his parents puttering around, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for training with distractions. The neighboring properties also tend to be noisy, especially in good weather.

To start we focused on down stays and sit stays. The picture shows Molly in a sit stay. She's been making great progress at home with both and we'd even practiced sit stays this morning. Sit stays tend to be harder because it is more natural to go down for something that takes time. But she did great and was able to hold both types of stays while I walked to the other side of the yard and back no matter what other people were doing. She's a good girl and really is progressing fast in both service and obedience training.

Once the fence was up and everyone had worked so hard in the hot sun, it was time to relax and get a cool drink. Molly took part in the relaxation, too. She'd earned it.

Of course we then needed to practice retrieve because we couldn't leave cans in the lawn.

Now Molly is normally quite good at picking things up, but by this time the heat had gotten to her. She wasn't showing signs of real problems but her brain was not quite its usual self. She was a little unfocused. To make things more difficult, we had to repeat retrieve and give several times to get decent pictures. Fortunately Molly is a patient and hard working dog, even in hot weather. She got lots of treats and water was readily available.

To finish things off, DH had to water the seeds he sowed for his parents. Molly has always been weird about water, especially moving water like the hose. We speculate whether she had a bad experience before we got her. But with lots of encouragement and help, it finally clicked that it could be a game and she played with the water from the hose with DH and me and looked so happy doing it. That really cooled her down too. But we didn't get pictures because we didn't want to risk getting the camera wet. She barked a bit more than would be acceptable in town in the long run, but she'll learn with more playing here at home in the future. We're just glad she can finally see water as fun.

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