Things are starting to get back to normal now with my training and crate games sessions have resumed. Ragnar came in for his first session of 2019 and was mainly quiet and relaxed but made a bit of a noise every now and again when I was working with other dogs. So, I just covered the crate and he was quiet. Lots of rewards when he was doing a good job.
I have spent several days building a mower shed at the new training facility and this has meant that both Erik and Ragnar have been able to be out with me just pottering around with a ball each. I was a bit in two minds as to whether this would be a good plan bearing in mind that Ragnar still struggles to let go of a ball and, the longer he has it the worse it becomes. I though I would give it a try as I would be there all day for several days and it was a great opportunity to let him learn that it is more fun to give it up for someone to throw it than to keep it for yourself all the time.
So, the first day he just ran around with it and wouldn’t let anyone near him to throw it, so every now and again we would just throw Erik’s ball for Erik to get. Ragnar just ran around with his ball and barked a bit when Erik was chasing his ball.
Many hours of shed building later, Ragnar is now joining in the ‘throw me the ball please’ game. It is still on his terms and when he gets a bit over excited, he can’t let go but he is definitely making progress in the right direction and is understanding that the ball doesn’t go away it just gets thrown and he is allowed to keep it again. He will now come and put the ball down behind me when I am working (which is really very helpful!) and let me pick it up to throw it for him 😊
I managed to get out with some friends yesterday and do some training with Ragnar. I started with some hunting and he is getting better at getting his nose down and not looking at me so much. Once I get out and practice more regularly then I am sure this will become the default. We then moved on to getting stop to shot.
Ragnar has been introduced to the starting pistol several times where I have paired play and food with shot. This time I had him free running in the field with one of my friends firing a shot every now and again. I then blew the stop whistle after the shot and rewarded the stops with a ball throw. On the fourth shot he offered to stop before I blew the whistle, on the fifth shot he offered to stop and I used a hand signal but no whistle, subsequent shots he needed no extra help to stop. Bless his little cottons 😊
The last two shots we introduced the exercise where a ball is dropped and he needs to wait and watch until I send him. The first time he looked away but after that he was fine.
Really good session and some good learning. Once I get the hunting pattern better, I will combine the two together. In the short term I will keep the two separate, as I want him to believe all the rewards come from the ground during hunting at the moment.
I have been trying to get Ragnar’s retrieve to be a little bit more consistent and I have also been trying to reward him with a ball throw for good deliveries. While I was working inside the problem was getting him to relinquish the ball to reset and go again. So, I tried taking it out into the field and then he was happy to let go of the ball for more throws. At the moment he does one short retrieve and then has several ball throws and this seems to be working.
I have also progressed to using half pound dummies. He transitioned very well from the paint roller to the dummies. I did a short session with the clicker and food to let him work out that he needed to do the same with the dummy and he was then able to go straight back to the field and work there with the ball rewards in the same session.
I have now introduced one-pound dummies and Ragnar is happy to pick them up. He is very steady but is clearly not happy at having to go and get the dummy and give it to me in order to get his ball. I will try short distances until the frustration subsides, he is barking when he delivers the dummy at the moment. He is a very interesting little personality to train!
Picture by Farlap Photography