So Jen of Never Say Never Greyhounds came to my neck of the woods, here in California, and we met today. I had my first ever lesson, and am happy to report we're not completely screwed up!
We met at a local park, and my hounds usually don't work outside. I was apprehensive about their attention span, but determined.
When we met, it was immediately to business. We started with heeling, and the girls quickly lost interest (if not immediately) in the treats we usually use at home. We decided to take a trip to the local Albertson's grocer, and up the ante. We got pre-grilled chicken, peanut butter packets, and tuna cans.
I had never gotten other treats like this because they worked so well for the other cheaper stuff. However, they wouldn't work outside, ever. Nothing would get their attention. That was not the case today!
So we went back to work at a less distracting park (there are so many to choose from) and started with the heeling exercise again. Success! My dogs work for chicken! Yay! I got to see how to manipulate them to realign their bodies (something I just was not getting whatsoever on my own) to a proper heel position. It was so good to see Kibeth, who is uncertain about working with strangers and accepting foreign food, perfectly happy to offer all the behaviors she knew for Jen. Very proud Mama moment. Also, she was extremely sensitive about her collar being touched when she first came off the track, and Jen was able to do so with no fuss whatsoever. Awesome.
Next we started working "touch the cup" with the box of peanut butter containers. I had never had ANY success getting them started on that exercise, but I saw immediately the benefits of doing it once I had an example with my dogs in front of me. Kibeth already knows quite solidly what happens when she hears that click from the clicker. Toy! Treat! Fun! Praise! All of the above! JoJo, on the other hand, hasn't caught on just yet, despite my frequent attempts. Today, though, she started to get it, and really enjoyed working. JoJo has a very short attention span (until real grilled chicken got involved, that is!) so for her to keep working, offer behaviors, and stay enthusiastic was a joy to see.
Finally we addressed stay and come. I have never had a recall I could rely on with any dog, and I've never been able to successfully train one. I've seen the YouTube videos, I've read up... Nothing has quite clicked. Now with our homework and having Rick to work with in tandem, I think I know how! I was pretty proud of their stays with distractions, but any amount of anything on the leash would cause them to immediately break a stay.
I asked if Kibeth's down, which involves a sit then a down, was acceptable. Jen didn't think there was anything really wrong with it, but I could retrain it if I wanted to. She showed me how, by getting Kibeth to bow under her knee. I had seen that method used before, but had never been able to replicate it with Kibeth (she would sit, down, and then crawl forward) and Jen got it instantly! Oye. I know, "higher value treat = CHICKEN, MOM!" - my hounds
Kibeth has a very pretty sit. I think is Kibeth is very talented, but she's afraid of car rides. I think we might have even made Jen a wee bit jealous of her sit! JoJo, on the other hand, has a terrible sit. It is SO uncomfortable for her, but she has made great strides to improve it. Jen said that there's not much I can do to fix it, she'll figure out what's the most comfortable for her, and that's what I'll have to live with.
In short, I had a great time. Jen was very professional, friendly, and a joy to work with. I completely respected her before I get to see her in action, but now I just love her. <3
Sadly, no pictures from the day, but there's going to be a followup video soon after we practice our homework. ;-)
Definitely my kind of hobby. THANK YOU, JEN!