Erik is getting better at watching and not commenting, he is also getting better at the figure 8 exercise but still struggles sometimes when he thinks he should be rewarded and I haven’t done it quick enough.
We’re off on holiday! 😊 My annual trip up to Evesham to train with friends for a week. As ever the boys travelled well and we had a great journey. They really enjoy being in the caravan and we had some good training time whilst I set up the awning and garden area. I had taken their raised beds and so I put them on their beds to watch me put up the awning etc so they didn’t have to stay in the car any longer. They both did a great job of watching and not getting involved. The work that I have been doing with them with boundaries makes being away with them so much easier, especially with being able to use a relatively flimsy garden fence, the plastic orange safety fencing which they could easily get over if they wanted to. Due to the training they don’t break that boundary even when other dogs come over to say hello and even when the dogs come into our garden, under or over the fence! I can leave them roaming in the garden area when I go to get water, even though I am out of sight for 5 mins or so. Ragnar just sits under the caravan where it is nice and cool and Erik sits by the fence waiting for me to come back.
Sunday was a nice easy drive up and setup day with several walks and swims for the dogs. The campsite is great two lakes and wooded areas to walk in.
The rest of the week I needed to concentrate mainly on Ragnar’s training so Erik had to take a bit of a back seat, he still did lots of the same training but generally in the breaks when the other dogs were away. It was really nice to see that he could do all of the exercises easily, he really is a great dog to train and work with.
He also had his annual kayak trip and a go in the rowing boat. He is lots of fun to be away with, a real joy to see how all the training over the years is coming together so well.
Since our holiday I have been working on hunting with Erik, most days. We are doing an exercise where he has to sit and wait whilst I go and hide several balls out in long grass. When I get back, I then wait for different lengths of time before casting him off to hunt. If he yips then we go back to the beginning and wait again. Once he finds each ball I wait for varying lengths of time before sending him back out hunting. The noise is definitely decreasing and so I have entered him in the working test along with Ragnar.
I have been working through the same patience exercises with both dogs since starting having lessons with Gwen. The main one is moving from placeboard to placeboard only when cued and waiting varying lengths of time before giving the cue.
Erik finds this very difficult and is really struggling to keep the noise in check. If he starts being noisy, I just gently take his collar and remove him from the placeboad and then sit with him and hold his collar for a little while until he settles and then let him go back to try again. He is getting better at not trying to drive me but I feel that this is going to be a long but very worth while process. His generalisation of the ‘place’ cue is good, and he will immediately change boards when told. The hard thing for him is the waiting for a cue. Poor chap, I have done such a good job teaching him that the cue will come after 3.5 seconds that he is still not convinced that I have forgotten about him!!! We are working up to between 3 and 6 second so that he just has to wait to see when I will give the cue. Lots of going back to reward him for being quiet and sitting still. I can see progress but it is a very well-practiced behaviour so it will take time to change it.
Sad to say we had to scratch going to the working test due to Ragnar injuring himself, hopefully we can make it next year though.
I am also doing some more IYC work with Erik. Tidying up the minutia, and making sure it is all precise and he is waiting for the food to come to him not anticipating and meeting me half way. Slow feeding where he has to be still as a piece of food comes slowly towards him. This is a challenge but he is working through it.
We are also working on getting it right first time. No nose boops allowed when the closed hand with food comes into his area. If this happens the hand goes away and I disengage for a short time and start again. Again, progress is being made but it is going to take time.
The last thing we are working on is IYC with movement. Can Erik not try to take the food from an open hand after running after a piece of food. Lots of mistakes initially but now he can go and collect a thrown piece of food and then offer to sit once he gets back to the hand.
All this patience and self-management is hard work for him so I only do small amounts at one time but he is stepping up and working through the challenges a little bit at a time 😊