Thursday, March 18, 2010

Training Lizards is about always adjusting the plan...

IT WAS 80 DEGREES YESTERDAY! WOW!
We had class for Lizzie and training Lizards is one of those things where you have to very carefully watch the balance of all factors and there is no manual so I have to just always be sort of thinking about what I am doing in contrast to most of the other dogs where I can feel like I sort of know the basic path we are going to take. Lizards think a little differently though......So once again the Lizard brain seems to be showing through!

With Lizzie's excitement level, her stress issues and her zoomies-stress can be a result from excitement-I spent THREE YEARS mostly just rewarding for eye contact, for having her right next to me, for a very focused type of attention. Looking back, I am not sure that was the best thing.....but not being in that place now, at the time I needed to keep her with me otherwise at that time I could not keep her working with me more then a few seconds when we were in stimulating environments-she could be EXCELLENT and AMAZING when she was at home or in a very familiar environment, but I was trying to get where she could work other places.

Last year when she was not going to take off all the time I started working a little on a more informal type of attention and Lizzie was very uncomfortable if I asked her to stay connected but to work a few feet away, still moving with me, but not having to stare at me-like what you do in agility. Liz is the fastest girl I know so for us to get around a course since I am the slowest person I know....she has to be able to do some lateral distance.

We had been making a lot of progress, and she still can not drive down a very long line, but she was looking for some obstacles and being able to be more obstacle focused and still not feel disconnected, so WHOOO HOOO, we were making progress.

As all training with Lizards goes....there HAVE to be setbacks, LOL! I started doing some heeling training-I wanted to do some rally or Novice obedience with Liz. Liz takes to the heeling really well and likes it. As we went back to agility during class, Liz was a mess. She was back to where she would take one jump and whirl in front of me with full eye contact, barking, yelling, frustrated, I was putting pressure, using my whole body and telling her "jump", and trying to help her figure out she could go on like we had been. I finally ended up having to take my clicker and shape her looking at the next obstacle. I think the focused heeling, along with so much reinforcement history for staring at me is too much for Liz right now to understand going from obedience/heeling to something like agility, so I think heeling is going to have to go back into the closet for a little while longer until she gets the agility game better.

BREEZE had class, and she was marvelous, and TWO CLASSES IN A ROW AND SHE STAYED SOUND! What is going on? LOL, could it be the warmer weather or the fact I brought my own weaves with the wider spacing, and the club did get some new 24 in weaves, so I kept her out of the 21 inch weaves-I altered any courses where it went into the 21 inch weaves. Breeze is soooo good, it was fun running with her and seeing her look good.

CRICKET went to class and worked on her tricks and walking around nicely, tunnels, tables while the people in class were walking courses, and she was able to get really close without going bonkers. She is doing terrific. Cricket also got to work on sitting in the crate while the dogs were running in front of her and keeping herself relaxed, she is getting the hang of that and she is getting the hang of sitting quietly in her crate while I go out and look like I am walking the course. So she is doing most excellent baby dog work. Her lefts and rights are going to be ready for video soon-so that is pretty exciting.

12 comments:

Diana said...

Lizzie sounds like she just loves life and is always thinking she knows best. LoL Dogs are funny. Miley likes every thing to be the same. It it changes she gets into circling mode. Funny dogs. Im so glad Breeze is doing well. Cricket sounds fantastic. I should have worked on stuff like being calm in the crate when dogs run, with Miley. Sounds like you are doing a great job with all your dogs! Diana

Nat said...

Good for you for being flexible with the Lizard! :) and I'm glad that Breeze is staying sound and that Cricket is doing so well too. Video of her is always something to look forward to!

Thanks for the comment on my blog -- Mika slept with her bow in, but by morning it had fallen off. I agree, she is really cute! :)

AC said...

Lizard training does sound challenging. I'm at that place with Kona where she's only able to give me attention for a couple seconds outside of familiar environments. I often wish she could do more, but then I remember that it wasn't too long ago that she couldn't give me any attention.

Glad to hear Breeze is doing well. I'm not too into the hot weather this early, but if it's helping Breeze, maybe it's good if it sticks around.

Sara said...

I'm so glad to hear Breeze is feeling better in the warm weather. That's wonderful.

I was just reading a chapter from the book Click N' Play (you can read it for free on agility nerd), and there was a big part about clicking for eye contact. I was going to try working Oreo some more on that, but from reading about Liz I see too much eye contact could back fire! I'm still going to try though, because I think it will help when we're in stressful situations.

Kathy said...

I think it is all a matter of balance with the eye contact thing, I had to have it to start so we could even work together....but now she needs to work and know she can move away a little and it is still ok, just the stage she is at--I think it is all about the stage the dog is and their personality ;-), I could do obedience and agility with Breeze or Chloe and never have an issue but Lizzie is never like everyone else!!!

Sam said...

I really don't know how you balance having three dogs. I have trouble getting just one to work right. LOL

I think the heeling setback is minor compared to all of what you went through over the past few years. I hope you will be able to try Rally eventually, it's so much fun and super motivating, especially for a dog who worries a lot.

Sam said...

Hey, well, if I had the choice between agility and rally, I'd picked agility, too! All dogs respond differently, like Marge for example, she doesn't always listen to verbal commands if she thinks we're going to do shaping games (especially if there's a toy on the floor and she thinks we're going to work on retrieving).. I can say "sit" and she'll go over and pick up the toy. And, I don't think it's her not paying attention, I just think that for her, she can't have two things going on at once.. so we have to work on verbal stuff with all the other distractions far away ;) I don't know if that's comparable to Liz being unable to differentiate Rally from Agility, but I figured I'd mention it!

Thanks for your ideas about the hot and cold packs. I'm really worried about the whole thing. I think I'm just going to leave her alone tonight and see what happens in the morning.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

It's always something - fix one problem and you get another - LOL! Sounds like you do a great job with Lizzie and I'm sure she'll be back to understanding what to do in agility soon and then eventually she'll get the difference between agility and obedience/rally.

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Jules said...

Ike is a little bit like Lizzie, very mama-oriented and, like you, I unintentionally created the problem while working on other problems (reactivity to people).

How do you reward Lizzie when you are doing agility? My new instructor doesn't want me to reward Ike close to me at all - only away from me to encourage good things happen away from the mama.

I am glad Breezze continues to feel good!

Kathy said...

Jules-because of how Liz used to be I always rewarded with a toy but pretty close to me, so I think now we can start doing a little more throwing and rewarding where I want her to be-she is getting to where she would bring me the toy to tug with her and not take it for victory laps-so I need to be a little more diligent about reward placement ;-)-you bring up a very good point!

Jules said...

Yeah, it is a little bit different with Lizzie because you had to work so hard for that connection. But the connection sounds so solid now, it doesn't seem like you would lose it by rewarding further away.