Before Miley went into season for the first time, we were making some pretty good progress with her dumbbell work and the dumbbell retrieve on the flat. We actually had one lesson where she did almost a full retrieve! She just didn't have a front with a sit or a finish at that time. But she ran out and picked up the dumbbell! That was a skill that was a victim of the puberty monster. After going into season, Miley wasn't interested in the dumbbell at all and we were back to square one and trying to figure out what was going to work for her. I put together a video clip of where she was at in June of last year and where she's at now. The difference is thankfully obviously. :)
As seems to happen periodically while I'm training, I just sort of stumbled across what worked for Miley. I started out using periods of time when she was relentlessly wanting me to play with her. This was usually when I was in the middle of something. So I decided to go with it, but add my own twist to things. I'd play with her for just a bit, but then I'd grab the dumbbell, hold it and wait for her take it. She knew what I wanted, but it wasn't exactly the game that she wanting to play. As long as I had enough patience, she would eventually take the dumbbell and then we'd play some more. As you might guess, this was not a method that allowed for very many repetitions or was terribly brief.
After some playing around while training and being slow with the food rewards, I found what has so far worked for Miley. After a successful hold of the dumbbell and release on cue, I rewarded with a high value treat. Bingo! What I intended to do was hold the treat behind the bar of the dumbbell to encourage her to open her mouth and take the dumbbell. Sometimes I'm a little clumsy and as I already mentioned, slow on the food reward. In this case, the timing was perfect and for what ended up working. We started with the dumbbell right in front of her face and having her just open her mouth to take it on cue. Then I slowly started moving the dumbbell away from her face so that she would need to reach for it. And now we're to the point where I place it on the ground and have my hand near but not touching the dumbbell and she takes it. She's still gaining confidence with it and some days she's more enthused than others, but we are making steady progress and she is definitely enjoying herself!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention anything about Dominic. ;) He is still the most adorable, sweet little thing. He's slowly gaining a little bit of sass. And last night he went the whole night without an accident in his crate (I have an alarm set so that I get up in the middle of the night to let him out, so no, he isn't already sleeping through the night)! I'm able to write these post unimpeded because he is currently napping. I'll have plenty of further updates about him, but I will say this, there is a HUGE difference between housebreaking a puppy during the wet Oregon winter versus the warm late spring/early summer! Miley basically housebroke herself with a total of three accidents inside the house (not counting any accidents in the crate). She magically did this because she had the benefit of an open sliding glass door that she would scamper through to go outside and do her business whenever the need arose. She was so easy!! I have to watch Dominic like a hawk and be on top of regularly taking him out so that we avoid accidents. I really hate cleaning up pee, so the solution to that is watch his every little move. Not exactly a bad thing since he's so adorably little and full of puppiness. But I will admit that it doesn't allow for getting a whole lot done. So I'm going to be switching up how I do things for the time being and that little darling will be learning the fine art of napping so that I can get things done and also spend some time with Miley!
And now it's nail dremmelling time!