Our assignment this week from our Thursday night utility class was to train with distractions. This is great, because this is exactly what we need. I feel like we do try to train with a lot of distractions already - like going to new places to train, and doing exercises with other dogs and people close by doing various activities. However, this week we're taking it to the next level.
Fortunately there were several others working their dogs at the club today, so that in itself provided for distractions. We especially wanted to work the article pile with distractions. We did several articles in the same ring that another dog was practicing dumbbell retrieves in, and my training partner was running around the ring near the pile playing with her dog. As if that wasn't enough, we put some 'foreign' objects in the article pile!
Jackson did great with all the distractions. He didn't circle the pile or stop and gaze, although the first couple articles he was rather slow working the pile, but he kept working. I think the 'foreign' objects placed in the pile were more of a distraction than all the activity going on around him. By the fourth or fifth article, he was going directly to the correct article and picking it up. So, we quit on that high note : )
I'm also jackpotting him with a high value treat when he brings the correct articles back. I can't see yet that it is increasing his briskness going and coming from the pile yet, but I can't help but think he is enjoying the article exercise more! He loves the treats that I've been jackpotting him with and the only time he gets them is when we're doing articles.
The other exercises - signals, directed retrieve and directed jumping - were pretty good. The pivots to the gloves were a little off. He still gets stressed with the gloves and loses some of his precision on the turns, and we still need to pick up some speed on the go outs and jumps. Just a few of the things we need to keep working on.