My poor dogs are about to burst they are so full of beans, and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. The ground is covered with ice, just about every inch of it. We have essentially no snow – what snow we had got rained on heavily 10 days ago, followed by a deep freeze. The rain didn’t quite wash the snow away and what little was left is now ice. Walking is treacherous and running is downright dangerous. I don’t want the dogs wiping out and pulling muscles or tearing ligaments. They are very fit, but they are slipping and sliding and wiping out just running around our small property. Even the healthiest dog can still end up injured in these conditions, so I didn’t take them hiking at all this weekend. Yesterday Mira came in from the yard with a bloody foot. She must have cut it on the ice. The cut is deep and starts bleeding again every time she goes outside. I have given her homeopathic Calendula, and applied some topically. Today she is in her crate to hopefully let the cut heal up a bit. I am hoping for either snow or a thaw, and neither is anywhere in sight.
To try and take the edge off, I did some training in the house last night. My bedroom is huge – big enough to set up four weave poles or work on a travel board quite comfortably. So that’s what I did. I couldn’t find my training notebook so just did some basics from memory. Hannah is getting really good with her targets and also holding position on the travel board. Last night I played a game with her where she would put her back feet on the board and I’d release to play tug. I trained the table that way too, making her hold it for varying lengths of time. Hannah is nuts about tugging, so anything that facilitates tugging quickly becomes strongly enforced. She loves the table, flying onto it and instantly throwing herself into a down, waiting like a coiled spring to be released. She’s starting to do that with contact position.
I am teaching all four dogs the same basic exercises. Hannah has them down most precisely, but even Ross is doing them well. He’ll never do agility but until I get going with Rally-O and learn what I need to train for that, agility basics it’ll be.
Kestrel is the one who needs the most work. She gets so stimulated by training that it’s hard to get the timing right. She’s absolutely lightening fast, and gets higher than a kite. Within seconds she is jumping – no, leaping and bounding – back and forth over the travel board she is supposed to be standing stock still next to with her back feet on it. Trying to click the second a foot touches is all but impossible. When she doesn’t get rewarded, she gets even more silly, and then quits.
I realized that I have not done any shaping basics with Kess, and this is something she really needs. She clearly wants to please, and loves, loves, loves training. But she also gives up easily as she is not very confident. I decided I need to take a step back with her and do some basic shaping with a box. I put a large box on the ground and worked at shaping her to stand in it. It wasn’t easy, but this was her first time working with a box. She quickly started putting her front feet in, but then resorted to this leaping over it with her back feet. I don’t think she has much rear end awareness and I am realizing just now that I should do some of these exercises with her as well. She really has no foundation. Tsk, tsk. Time to get my butt in gear!
After several minutes, Kestrel finally put all four feet in the box. I was very happy and fed her the rest of the treat bag to celebrate. She then had a drink and passed out for the rest of the evening. It’s amazing how tired they can get after a little brain work!
All four dogs settled really nicely after their training sessions. I spent roughly 8 minutes with each dog, so not a lot of time. I should be able to do this every day. Surely I can spend 40 minute a day developing my dogs brains, and another 20 doing the basic exercises I have been assigned to rebuild my back. One hour per day. Can I do it? This is my goal. Wish me luck!