Today I spent some good quality one on one time with Mira.  I haven’t done that in a while, and I need to do a lot more of it.  I have been noticing that she’s been acting a bit clingy and jealous, particularly since Kestrel came onto the scene.  Mira always gets lots of exercise, but because she’s a bit of a frustration to train with, I tend to find excuses to train her last, and then often don’t have time.  She’s always been one to just want to have fun and has never seemed to be that keen on training anyway, so I’ve let her training slide, waiting for her to be more keen.  I think, however, that she’s changing and developing a work ethic now, at long last! Yeah!

Today I took her out by herself and had her heel and do some shadow handling all the way to the park.  That is about three blocks and it took us both a fair amount of energy to get there.  I kept her in heel position the whole time, but she can only go about 5 feet before she starts to forage ahead.  That darn impulse control again…!  But then I reminded myself that she’s walked to that park 1000 times at least, and so how can I not expect her to just make a b-line to get there?  It’s only natural and it’s what’s been extremely well reinforced (get to the park and run and play).  

But instead of getting frustrated, I just made a point of turning in circles and zig zagging around, changing directions unexpectedly and stopping from time to time.  She actually did a very good job of staying focused on me the whole way there.  I haven’t done this with her in several months (I should search my blog to find the exact date) and the last time I remember her brain short circuiting long before we got to our destination.  She must really be maturing as she made it the whole way there, and still had more for other training.

Once at the park I let her run around a little, but she really wanted to keep working with me.  She seemed excited and keen and quite pleased with herself.  This really is a big change in her.  She’s over two now, and perhaps finally growing up.  

I decided to work on shaping a back-up and threw her favourite ball on the ground.  She wants me to kick it, so she drops it at my feet.  She then stands there with her nose almost touching the ball, making it hard to kick it anywhere without hitting her in the face with the ball or my foot. I want her to back-up, something she’s been taught over and over, so I stand still and wait for her to offer it.  

I’ve done this before with her with very poor results.  In fact, I’ve worked very hard on this in the past and had almost no success.   So I was quite delighted when she offered a back-up within about 10 seconds of waiting, right after she offered a nose touch, eye contact and then a lie-down.  The second she took one step backwards, I kicked the ball.  Within three repetitions I waited for two steps back, and so on.  Within about 10 rounds of this, she was backing up around 5 feet.  Hurray!!  Way to go Mira.

At this point I put the ball away and just went for a bit of a hike.  She still wanted to do more but I knew her brain was getting fried. No point burning her out or ending on a bad note.  After a bit I played some tug games (Tug, Out!  Tug, Out! Lie down, Tug, Out! Hand touch, Tug!  etc.), and had her do send outs around every lamp post we walked past, as follows: I put her in heel position standing around 5 feet from a pole (start doing this much closer), then send her forward to the pole.  Once there I turn my body indicating that she is to go around the pole, and then come back to me.  Reward with the tug.  It only took once for her to get it.  I have done this with her in the past, but again she never caught on.  Today she did it every time, and from both sides.

I am so pleased by all this change and improvement with Mira that I am quite inspired to do more with her now.  She was very pleased with herself as well.  I’m not sure if this is a maturing thing, or if her brain is simply working better these days.  Perhaps both.  Regardless, we both came home quite happy.  

Tomorrow I am renting my agility instructor’s training arena for an hour or two in the morning so we’ll get to play around on some equipment after all this time.  Yeah!  I am going to bring all four dogs and do a little with each, although mostly work Hannah as there’s no point paying for time to do ground work that I can do at home.   Should be a fun morning and I had best get to bed and review my training notes to plan our time most effectively.  Good night!