Thursday, 29 May 2008

More Training

I picked up some really useful plastic clips to turn broomsticks into jumps while we were at Worcester the other week. Now Finns agility training kit includes flowerpots, broomsticks, electric fence posts and a wind break! The poles from the windbreak are already sharpened to a point to stick in the ground for the supports and the broomsticks rest on the clips attached to them. Electric fence posts make good weaving poles and the flowerpots with numbers painted on them mark out the course. My agility equipment now comprises of 1 home made long jump, 9 weaving poles and five jumps. I am trying to set up a different exercise every day and even with this restricted amount of equipment it is surprising how much variation can be achieved with a little thought. The main difficulty is setting everything up when there are no children around to 'help' as I have to use the communal green outside my house. There is an additional problem at the moment as we have workmen digging up the road to replace the watermains, so far we seem to be providing entertainment during their teabreak.It's all good practice in ignoring distractions. Passing neighbours like to stop and watch and comment on how good he is! (If they ever watched a show they would realise how much work we need to do), but I suppose compared to the average dog on the estate who is never trusted off the lead he is good: most of the time. Also my 2 cats Tara and Smudge like to help by providing distractions which are not always ignored.
Inbetween exercises I do a bit of obedience to give us a bit of time to get our breath back, or I'll put him in a down stay while I sort the next exercise out. I like to have a complicated bit to the exercise to make him think, followed by a simple bit so that after a period of concentration he can relax with a quick blast down a straight line and work off any frustration if he doesn't quite understand what I want him to do. Most of all I want it to be FUN.

Yesterday was quite busy workwise so it was getting late by the time we could do any training so I decided just to do obedience. For a change I thought I'd use the clicker. I've not really been a great fan of this method of training up until now, (probably because I'm not any good at it) but Finn seemed to really enjoy it, so perhaps I'd better get used to it.
I went to a clicker training day a few years ago, one of the things we had to do was split up into pairs with one of the pair being the dog and the other the handler. The dog had to work out what the handler wanted without being told. It was really hard, but it made us realise just how much we expect of our dogs when we tell them to do something in what to them is a foreign language and just how inteligent they are to actually work out what we want them to do.

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