Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MacNews, 2(1)

Okay, prepare to be impressed -- mostly by the fact that I was able to both handle the dog AND take the pictures. I know they are not the greatest pictures ever but you have to admire that I was able to take them at all :)

Let's start with draft... Montana Mac is doing so well!!! I can pull the cart behind him as if he were hitched (hard on the handler's back but sacrifices in training are necessary :) and we are even doing turns now. He is not concerned at all, and will soon be ready to hitch.

In anticipation of this, today we practiced the harness part. In a draft test, the dog needs to sit in front of the cart (facing forward) while the handler grabs the harness from the cart, and then does the harness/hitch. Hmmmmm.... that seemed like too much -- remember that the goal is always success -- and so I thought about how I could break the exercise down to assure success.

I had Mac sit and face the cart so he could see me, and I put him on a stay and got the harness from the cart. Because he could see me -- and I could say, "good stay" -- he held his stay nicely, got reinforced, and then we started the harness part.

Again -- think about the small pieces that can be reinforced. I put the harness over his head -- cookie -- one foot in -- cookie -- the other foot in -- cookie -- one snap -- cookie -- other snap -- cookie -- still sitting nicely -- cookie. Do you think of training like that? Always think about this term: Least Trainable Unit (LTU -- I made it up :) -- it means train the smallest piece possible of an exercise. Harnessing is many small pieces -- reinforce each one in order to create a very happy, calm, positive association with the exercise.

I will not hitch Montana Mac to the cart for a few more days -- better to go very slowly because scaring a dog is a big setback and needs to be avoided.

Here is a picture of Mac sitting between the shafts -- notice the excellent stay, and his relaxed demeanor :)

So that picture covers obedience (stay) and draft! Let's move on to agility...

The teeter bang is going so well!!! Today he pulled it down from about half height and made it bang :) Again, what he is doing is just putting his paw on the one end of the teeter that goes down, and pulling it down with his paw to make it bang -- he is not on it -- he is just working on getting used to the motion and the noise.

He is doing 4 - 5 jump sequences now...

...and is so speedy in the tunnel that he is a blur (my excuse for the bad picture :)

I put the dogwalk up/down planks on the table so it is lower and has a solid middle experience -- he is a pro!

Finally, here he is again practicing his excellent stay on the University of Montana colored table!

Sydney insists that I tell you that she is ahead -- she is already hitched and pulling the cart. And Zoey wants me to tell you that she is the fastest, most amazing agility berner ever made -- watch out world! Cadi wants you to know that she is sorry for flunking the TDX but thought two in a year would be showing off. Asia says she is happy to be back to work practicing VST. Halo says that she loves agility and plans to get those two last legs soon so she can be a Working Dog Excellent, and Maize points out that she already is a Working Dog Excellent -- and Fun Police Excellent as well. Karma wonders why we have to have so many dogs. Carlos/Ute thinks he has died and gone to cat hell -- who is Carlos/Ute??? Stay tuned!


  1. Montana Mac looks like he is making GREAT progress!! Of course he has a great teacher..

  2. Love Getting The Teaching Tips ~ Great Photos ~
    Mac Is Looking The Part Of A "Working Dog" And A Happy One At That! Keep 'Em Coming :D