We've been trying to find new locations to train this spring that offer new and different distractions/challenges, so we were really excited when a friend from the training club invited us out to her acreage this afternoon to train. Jackson's training partner, Melody, was also invited. Our friend has a Golden that she is also training at the utility level, and she has a new nine-week-old Golden puppy. It was a great afternoon of training and fun with the dogs.
We worked in a fenced in yard in a shady, wooded area in back of her house. We started out working on go outs, which is good since I've decided to go back to basics with the go outs to see if I can get Jackson to maintain a brisk pace all the way to the gates. I've broken down the exercise to just practicing the go out part and not including the directed jumping at this time. She trains her dogs to go out to a small platform. Jackson has not used a platform for go outs so I wondered how long it would take to get him to go on the platform and sit. Actually, I was surprised - it didn't take him long at all to get the idea and soon he was going out and on to the platform.
I think Jackson is smart and will do whatever I ask him to do - if he understands what it is that I want. That's my challenge - to figure out a way to get the message through to him so he understands what it is I want. In the case of the go outs, I want him to maintain a brisk pace all the way out. Now, how do I show him that is what I want? I'm trying putting treats out and I'm also trying 'racing' him out to the go out place. I'm hoping one of these will help keep his speed up.
We also practiced heeling and signals as well as articles. We put the articles in an unusual location - a closed in sort of area where he didn't have room to circle the pile. He did really well with it and figured out how to work the pile by walking into it instead of around it.
Overall, it was a really good opportunity to train in a completely different environment. I think we may be going out there again next week. This time I will take my camera : )