A Little More Attention Please

I took the canine freestyle foundation behavior training into our home today.  I just didn’t want to drive to the training center and I felt as if Gibson was more than ready to begin working on duration of attention with some distractions…..our four furry felines.  Only a three of them were present with Grayson asleep on the rocker, Kate, out of camera view on the sofa and Xena, out of camera view under the table the camera was on.  After moving some of furniture out of the way (yes, small house), we went to work.

In our first training session I neglected to remember I needed to relax the criteria we achieved when we were last in the training center with absolutely no distractions.  Gibson’s default behavior is Sit.  If he’s not cued to do another behavior, he’ll always sit.  In canine freestyle, the default behavior needs to be a stand, so when I when I first began working with him today, I was asking for too much duration of attention before clicking.  You’ll notice that he seems unsure of what to do and begins offering other behaviors…sits, bows, etc.  And I make some timing errors.  I went back to clicking only short durations of attention while he was in a stand vs. the 7 to 10 seconds of full attention I had reached in the training center.  You’ll also see him look to the side and behind him when Xena moves, however, he quickly returns his attention to me.  Good Boy!

We took a short break for me to replay the video and critique my own skills before moving into the second training session.  This session went much better.  In this round he was required to remain standing and stationary with duration of attention while I moved into 3 of the 4 basic freestyle positions:  left-side heel, right-side heel and front.  I’ll save the 4th position, behind, for when I have a mirror to fully see whether his attention is on me.  He moved a bit when he was in the left-side heel position and used my target hand to get him to take a tiny step forward to keep him in position.  Xena also moved again and his attention left me for a moment, but he was right back at it with eyes on me.

It’s so tempting for me to rush ahead and get into some of the moving behaviors, but I know we’ll both be well served if I dedicate lots of MY time and attention to Gibson in order to insure we have the first important behavior….duration of attention….in all the positions (working up to high level distractions) before I jump head first into anything else.  I do think we’ll try some platform work next.  Stay tuned!

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