Thursday, September 25, 2008

Video Update

I took a long weekend away, so that meant Bo did, too. While I vacationed in Maine, Bo went back to his former owner's place where he spent time with his former stablemates. He came back home fresh as a daisy and ready to go back to clicker training.

We came home to a UPS package -- Bo's aunt in Florida (whom he's never met) had sent him a gift! Bo's aunt, actually my sister, is the owner of Over!Rover, and she manufactures beautiful dog agility equipment. She's been following Bo's blog and was inspired to build a couple of jumps for Bo. I can't wait to get started on jumping.

Since our return on Tuesday night, I've worked with Bo in the barn aisle, and yesterday I took him out for the first time to the round pen. The barn aisle is devoid of distractions, but the round pen is right at the corner of the property with a very busy road and horse pasture across the street. Even though Bo has a bit of clover and other greens to pick at in the round pen, he still chose to play the clicker game. I was very pleased to see him responding so well even with the change of venue.

Last night I introduced the dressage whip to our routine. I had been considering using a whip to help direct his hips, but I knew he was a bit whip shy. However, after looking at the first video, I decided I wanted our play to look more graceful, and I think the whip has helped. Additionally, in his exuberance in the game last night, Bo gave my target hand a pretty good nip. So I have substituted the whip in hand as a target rather than my splay-fingered hand. I guess those fingers at nose height were just too tempting.

Happily, he's such a clever fellow that the switch to the whip in hand only took a couple of reinforcements (click-reward!) for him to understand.

When I first brought the whip out of the tack room, Bo turned and left me. He definitely didn't want me to be holding a stick. I approached him in the corner and I could see he was uncomfortable in the proximity of the whip. But I lightly touched him and clicked, which made him interested in what was going on. With the clicking, he was able to hang around long enough to "listen" to me and judge my intent. You can see from today's video, he has no qualms about the whip crossing over his head and across his body. I'll be working with him specifically with the whip and refining its use, which will come in very handy when we start driving.

(More to come)

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