Tuesday, 4 August 2009

One small step for Grace, one giant leap in faith

Today's lunchtime session was so rewarding. Grace didn't put a foot wrong. I so enjoy working with her. Bright, keen to learn and cuddly. Our session included:

1) loose schooling - practising 'turning' and being relaxed
2) step back when I point at your chest
3) pick up your foot when I point at it
4) touch the target when it is over my arm
5) touch the target when it is over the stable door
6) allow me to gently pick up the loose skin over your pectorals
7) look me directly in the eye
8) follow me and stop when I stop

The whole session was 30 minutes, broken up with changes in venue, cuddle sessions and stable tidying. Each 'bit' of the session was probably only 2 minutes if that.

Little things I need to make sure I don't reinforce - 1) Grace was experimenting with touching my arm, the clicker or the bag of treats when I would have rather she focused on the target. Moving the target to the stable door successfully managed this. 2) Grace also tried experimenting with 'if I paw at the floor will I get even more treats?' As she used to have a habit of striking the ground with her foot when stressed or impatient I am not going to encourage this habit. Later she could be taught to 'count', but we are not ready for that yet. Experimentation is a good thing, but I have to be careful that I don't encourage unwanted behaviours.

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