I have been continuing working on the figure eight, short sessions and the last one we did Ragnar committed to working the cones and we had several fluent figure eights before I released him to the ball. Definite progress.
He is still struggling a bit with the retrieve past the bowl but it is getting better.
I have also worked through all the odd and different types of dummy that I have including the Dokken pheasant dummy and he was happy to pick them all.
A very interesting session again with Geoff Shore, our second session in the Rabbit pen. Ragnar was again steady around the birds and hunted better today. He was allowed to be off his long line whilst we were doing the hunting as we were in a part of the pen which had no birds. We practised some off-lead heelwork and he managed to do some reasonable work. We also did some memory retrieves in the pen. At this point he started to get noisy and over aroused and so we left the pen and put him back in the car to have some time to settle. I then got Erik out and he did some work in the pen.
When we got Ragnar out again, we did some orientate to shot and retrieve work. He started to run in but returned when I called his name. He was still very aroused and so after a bit of handling-work we decided to call it a day.
Learning points from this session.
Now that Ragnar knows what to expect he is starting to try to ‘drive’ me to let him do the work. Which is great that he is so keen but I need to teach him to be patient and just because the set up says that work is available doesn’t mean that he will be doing anything immediately.
I need to associate control work with fun – e.g. heelwork predicts ball play. I have noticed in other areas that Ragnar is doing the things he thinks will get me to throw the ball to get me to throw the ball. On our walks he goes looking for birds to flush and then looks back at me to ask for the ball. I need to work with this to get him to offer heelwork and steadiness and patience.
I also need to break up some of his patterns and not be so predictable.
Things to work on before we go back again for a session with Geoff.
Carry on with the ‘get it bowl’ work and introduce it into other areas of work until Ragnar will commit to anything, I ask him to, until he is given permission to go.
Start to work him in some group situations where I can skip his turn if he is too aroused and anticipating working and becoming noisy. Grade 1 group and possibly agility with Gwen?
Do more memory retrieves.
Work on teaching him to settle when ‘work’ is imminent.
Teach an off switch during work.
Thinking about it, Ragnar is starting to try to ‘drive’ our routine in other areas too. Getting up in the morning, he starts to become impatient as I get dressed and have breakfast as this generally signals walk time.
Meal times are also times when he is starting to try to drive me so these are great opportunities to help him to learn that noise and movement only gets things put off and you end up in your crate!!!
Day 2 of the great heelwork experiment. I am trying to teach the boys to walk to heel off lead between area that I play with them. Where I walk it is split into distinct areas, playing fields split by various hedges and ditches. I was beginning to notice that Ragnar was running ahead to the areas where he thought I would play ball with him. I was inadvertently reinforcing this because I was playing ball in those areas. Doh! Just goes to show you can’t switch off even when out for a social walk! So, I was thinking about how to redirect this and teach him to get there together, but still mooching. Then I realised that I could use his predictive skills to get him to ‘drive me’ to get there by walking to heel. Yesterday we started the experiment. I wanted about 10m of reasonable heelwork before entering the new area and playing ball. Understandably this took quite a while but not as long as I thought it might. Lots of going back and starting again but they started to get the idea and after the third transition point, they had settled to it. Poor Erik got the idea quite quickly but we had to keep going back because of Ragnar so Erik just got rewarded and he seemed to be happy with that 😊
Today things were considerably better, Ragnar was offering to wait at the transition points and held it together with the heelwork much better. Still several resets per go but much less that yesterday. At one point he even seemed to relax into it. Only for about 5 seconds but it was lovely to see, even fleetingly!
Very encouraged to continue to pursue this as I really need to crack this with both of them.
I am continuing to work on the transition heelwork and it is continuing to improve. I think it will be a long job but can see things starting to stabilise. I am experimenting with when to release them to go and play. I am trying to get it so that Ragnar has done some really nice work, even if we haven’t made it all the way through the transition place. Trying to reward success rather than build in constant resets and error chains.
The figure eight work is continuing and becoming more generalised and fluent. I have switched locations and orientations and location of the bowl relative to the cones. Each time I change something we get a blip until Ragnar resets his brain and then the behaviour comes back strong. The blips as shorter and less pronounced now.
I am going to try to incorporate both dogs into one training session, one working figure eight and one crated. This means that I can change dogs frequently and if either dog can’t manage to come out and go to work quietly then they will go back in their crate. I will see how this works later today!