20 April 2009



Why do birds
suddenly appear
every time
you are near?

Remember that song?
I'm singing it with a frown on my face! Orkan has decided that chasing birds is a lot more fun that tugging. He might work for r-e-a-l-l-y good food rewards, but even then he takes off. MAJOR selv-rewarding issue alarm!

After complaining to Thomas today (and getting some good advice) I decided that a good way to attack this problem is to train a crisis "sit" command. I took Orkan (long leash dragging on the ground) and his dinner out to work on a bit of sitting. No birds, so I didn't have to use the leash a lot, but he found some very interesting smelling things (had been a dead bird once upon a time I think) that he wanted to roll in, so we had a selv-rewarding temptation to work on.

My goal is that he doesn't mind the birds flying or jumping around at all. Not when training agility, nor when going for a walk. I want to be able to walk him off leash all year! In order to have him get used to the birds, I need to control them reinforcement-wise, and that's what I hope to do with the sitting. Thomas said that when training hunting dogs he often finds it easier to train a sit than a recall, so I'll try that.

The downside by doing something about this problem is that I need to keep him on a leash (no self rewarding!) until we have learned to handle those winged monsters (I'm going to have nightmares about tiny little birds, ok?). I hope that won't take too long... It means most agility training is impossible right now... Let's just hope there won't be too many birds at the handling classes.... (pray with me!)

A big smile at the end: just before dark, when the birds had gone to bed, we had some three jump fun. Except for having to work a bit on lateral distance, not skipping the last jump before a LOP, he did extremely well! Tugged like a hero, ran like a hero, and responded to my handling just the way I want. His turns are very, very tight, so he knocks a bar every now and then (yes, both), he just doesn't seem to mind. I guess that will change as soon as he is introduced to heavy wood bars... Mine are very light plumming pipes, hitting one of Fanny's bars will feel quite different. Reminds me we need to work a bit more on the jumping technique. I guess I'll do that tomorrow :-)