Training has been more relaxed lately, and I've had time to think through what some of my training goals might be now. I have a couple things I'm working on with Jackson - some new behaviors/tricks and a new obedience exercise.
The new obedience exercise we are working on is the UKC directed retrieve/glove exercise. It's quite different than the AKC glove exercise so it's incorporating some new commands. I think learning a new exercise will keep both Jackson and me challenged. We have competed in UKC trials previously and Jackson has his UKC CDX title. I like UKC trials because they're usually quite a bit smaller and more relaxed than AKC trials - at least in our area. If I do decide to enter a UKC trial later this year, it won't be the kind of pressure we've been under trying to get the other titles. I find though, that if I don't have some kind of plan or goal to work toward, I'm kind of at loose ends.
We had a fun match at the training club this morning. I did run throughs in both Open and Utility to see if I could see any improvement in the areas we've been working on lately. I was okay with both run-throughs, even though he didn't come on the first command from the down on the drop-on-recall exercise. Otherwise, he was staying with me pretty good on the heeling/figure 8 and he seemed more relaxed. I'm working on a behavior that will relax both of us in the ring between exercises - it's 'give me five' - having him offer me his paw. I see a lot of handlers doing jump and touch behaviors between exercises, and I tried to put 'touch' on command, but Jackson would never do it in the ring. However, he will sometimes raise his paw at me in training - usually when he's stressed and is trying to calm me : ) - so, I decided to try to put it on cue. He seems to like doing it and did it when I asked in the fun match today. I've heard some judges don't like handlers doing 'tricks' between exercises, but I'm not going to worry about that.
Now, for our other 'trick.' I've been looking for something that Jackson can do to entertain the residents when he goes on his therapy visits to the care center. The one I settled on was, pick things up and put them in a basket. I've been trying to use the clicker to mark the breakdown of behaviors I'm training. However, I am not a 'clicker' trainer - at least not the kind that captures behaviors. I have found that I just don't have the patience to wait for a behavior to occur on it's own and then try to capture it. So, I'm using a lot of shaping and then I try to mark what I like using the clicker, and treat. Our first lesson was today. He knows the pick up part, and it was pretty easy to get him to bring it to the container. We need some work on the drop it in the container part. I ended up putting a treat to his nose so he would drop it to take the treat. (I was really off on my timing with the clicker though, as you will see in the video.)
Clicker trainers out there - if you have suggestions, please don't hesitate!