I’m afraid that some of the directional training I’ve put directly on Facebook (Cedar has her own page: .) Consequently you can’t step back through my blog and put the pieces together nicely. I’ve resolved to make sure I publish each in the blog.
Here is a recording of Cedar’s “Right” directional training with only about 10 days of work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMJg5SUVq80
I’m well pleased with her willingness to work and learn. The Right command developed nicely into a full turn on nothing but a verbal command (little or no physical help or support).
Shortly after making the recording above, I introduced Cedar to a “Left” directional. Of course this made her brain explode because she’d pretty much decided that offering a Right turn was the magic. She might as well get used to the idea that there’ll be a lot of new magic.
It feels a bit like I’ve skipped over the intro. Even in this recording Cedar has already figured out that if she just turns her head slightly to the left she’ll get my praise and a tasty treat reward. Making the intro requires a bit of patience. I believe in free-shaping. That means little more than waiting for a dog to offer a performance or behavior that I want to build on. So, after giving the “Left” command (in the intro)… I just wait for her to serendipitously look to the left. And when she does, I’ll praise and reward. After a bit she’ll be able to focus on what thing she has to do to earn the reward. It’s really quite as simple as that.
The next step will be to get her to make a full turn when I give a “Left” command. Initially I may lure at this step to enhance the performance that she’s already offering. Then gradually I will minimize and make smaller the physical cues until there is nothing left but the verbal.
Next week, hopefully, I’ll publish an update on the Left directional training.
Growing like a Shetland Weed
I had to take the week 17 measurement a couple days early. I’m going to be judging a USDAA trial in Milwaukee this weekend and I’ll be on the road on her official measuring day.
At any rate, I’m impressed that Cedar is growing like a Sheltie, the breed that the Nobel was intended to chart. Our measurements fit neatly on the top of the curve. So if her growth remains true, she should come in right at about 16″, which is top of the standard for a Shetland Sheepdog.
In case you missed the story, Cedar’s dam is a feral sheltie. A dog rescue angel over in West Virginia manages to scoop up the dam’s occasional litters, though the dog herself has managed to escape capture. We have no idea what is the sire. I’m thinking it must be something like a Rat Terrier. She does have a hard-headed “what’s in it for me” kind of mind-set, which is consistent with the nature of a terrier.
Cedar is now 4 months old, and weighs roughly 10 pounds.
Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.