Once we get beyond the summer months, I make a point of getting the dogs out of the house for training at least once a week. I rotate through several different locations so that it's not the same location every single week. The biggest goal of these specific training sessions is to get the dogs thinking through and learning how to work around a variety of distractions, in environments that I can't completely control. I generally know what I'm likely to come across in each of the locations, so I can sort of pick and choose what the dogs are going to get exposed to and tailor the training session accordingly. Dominic is still so new to this training that I don't want it to be super difficult for him to be successful. Miley, however, is more used to this and if I want to successfully compete with her, then I need to challenge her a little. I also need to fine tune our acclimation period, see what really throws her off and figure out what I need to do to quickly get her back into working mode under a variety of distractions. So far I'm pretty pleased with how she's doing!
As I mentioned, Dominic is still pretty new to all this. He's got a general idea of where heel is and he's learning to reorient back to me after distractions pop up. I'm not throwing a lot at him right now, but I've been really pleased with what I've been seeing. :)
Last week, I took the dogs separately to Home Depot for their distraction training and I even managed to do some filming!
The first segment of the video is Dominic working in an aisle that he had a few minutes to acclimate to. At this point, I don't work him anywhere that he hasn't had time to acclimate to and I don't start working him until he's giving me consistent attention and warming up with hand touches. In the middle of his clip you can see that there are some big pallets getting moved around and that's fairly distracting for him. As it would be for pretty much any dog. But he handles it well and after doing some sniffing around, he's ready to work again. One thing in the video that I am particularly proud of him for is that you can see that he's starting to figure out his rear end, you can see that he generally knows where heel is and you can see the beginning of some left pivots! Proud mama!
Miley's portion of the video is in two segments. In the first segment, she's had a few minutes to acclimate to the aisle and she was very insistent about asking to work. She did great. We did some heeling and then we did a little bit of work on finishes. As you can tell, I didn't ask either dog to sit on this flooring. I am okay working them on this flooring while they're in an upright position, but I think it's too slick for the kind of sitting that I want them doing. So we avoid that all together and they definitely understand the difference. On regular pavement, I will incorporate sitting.
Miley's second portion of the video is in a cold aisle, so she didn't get any time to acclimate to that particular aisle. It's kind of tricky to completely call it a cold aisle, as she'd already been in the building for 20 min. So she was acclimated to the overall environment, but she had not been down to this portion of the store, and specifically had not been down this aisle. This is the kind of light testing that I'll do with her. I'm really happy with how well she did. You can also see a portion of the cold aisle where there's drilling going on in the next aisle over and she handles it really well. I've built up the hand touch as a very reliable, fun and always rewarded behavior, that I've started testing out using in stressful situations to see if it'll work to get the dogs' attention back on me. I haven't tested under high pressure yet, but it's working well under lower levels of stress.
Happy December 5th!