We had our first lesson with Renate Van Allen. Renate is an obedience dog trainer/teacher that happens to live close to us (amazingly!), and has earned two National Championships with her Labrador Simba. Here are some things we discussed:
For obedience training, I need to stop having Trey “sit” all the time; Renate says there aren't that many times that you want the dog to sit by default, so don’t train it. That’s not to say that for “household obedience” you should stop the sit training. So we’ll keep working on “sit” at doors before going through; “sit” for your dinner; etc. But for our obedience training, we’ll stop sitting all the time.
I tend to over-train Trey, and I run the risk of making it boring, repetitive and not interesting for him. Plus he’s still a baby! So keep the training sessions to 5 minutes each, maybe three times a day. And it’s not necessary to cover everything in one session. For instance, this week I must try to get him to jump up to “Take It” after an exercise, so if I can get him to do that (instead of sitting by default), then that’s a successful session.
Also, yesterday I walked him for about 20 minutes, which at the time he loved. But he was beat afterwards and slept like a log for 3 hours. I over-did it (again). So I’ll limit my walks to 10 minutes for now.
Things to work on this week:
1) Heeling in a large circle. Using the word “Strut” as in “Good Strut!” as he follows me around. Use the treat to show him where to look, not to lure him around. My emotion, excitement, voice is what gets him to “Strut”. Keep the treat more forward (because he is lower drive), say, 18” in front of my knee. Don’t walk too fast - he’s still a little guy. At the end say “Take It!” and try to get him to jump up a little to take the treat. Don't go too far before the reward. Do not finish with a sit.
2) “Get It” Game: throw a piece of cheese 10 feet (or more) out in front and say “Get It!” As he just about gets it in his mouth, say “Front”, and as he runs to me spread my legs and throw a treat through my legs (behind me) and say “Get It!” again. As he gets that one, turn around and say “Front” again, and throw through legs, etc. End with a “Take It!” trying to get him to jump up and take it.
3) Place Board: Get him to approach the short side of the place board and get up on it. Do a left 180º turn and say “Trey Sit!”. Then treat him. This prepares him for the “Out” where he must run out and turn around (180º turn) and sit. The board makes him learn not to cheat forward. So to re-cap: say “Place” to send him to the board; “Spin” for the 180º turn, “Trey Sit”, then treat him.
4) “Spin” and “Twist”: “Spin” is a counterclockwise turn. Introduce “Twist” as a clockwise turn. I had been using “Spin” for either direction.5) “Drop” and “Down”: Use “Drop” to mean get into the Sphinx down position. Use “Down” to mean get into the lying down position used for long down-stays (where the rear legs are turned under him). Further on “Drop”: Trey was stepping forward as he dropped; the drop must be straight down (or on the “down on recall” he’ll be inclined to cheat forward towards me when he is coming and I “drop” him). So use the treating hand to sort of push him backwards so when he “drops” his back legs go straight down. One last thing, don’t start in the sit position; start in a standing position to teach “Drop” and “Down”.