Takoda GETS barrels, May 20, 2015

Takoda will be 16 weeks old tomorrow and continues to make great progress in many different ways.  I’d say the most significant progress has been out on walks in the “real world.”  Today he offered heeling about 80% of the time. The other 20% he walked on a loose leash and checked in with me often.  Given where he started off a few weeks ago, which was a happy, enthusiastic, energetic, curious puppy who wanted to meet everyone, I thought it would take MONTHS vs WEEKS to get to this point.

I have to say the drizzly weather is contributing to our success this week because there are far fewer people out running and biking but we did encounter that same group of 30 or so runners with the whistle commander. Takoda did great and kept all four feet on the ground when one of the runners “just had to meet the super cute puppy.” As soon as she disengaged, Takoda reoriented to me instantaneously and completely on his own. He didn’t even watch her running to catch up with the group!  BIG YEY!

The rain has been fantastic for being able to change up our walking route. We’ve even been able to walk along one section of the ever-so-popular Boulder Creek Trail as a result of the uncharacteristically Scotland-style weather which apparently most Boulderites are not willing to venture out into. Having spent 20+ years on the East Coast, I guess I’m used to rain.

Since I don’t have videos of our walks, I uploaded a couple of videos shot today in the yard.

(above) Takoda ran around the barrel so well in both directions today, I decided to add some distance.

(above) Lil running around a table and doing some flatwork at 5 months old.

I thought it would be fun to compare what Lil and Takoda were learning as puppies.  This is the first video I uploaded of Lil in 2009.  She was 5 months old at the time (Takoda is now 4 months old) but we didn’t get Lil until she was 13 weeks old so that gave Takoda a 5 week head start on learning various skills so I thought this was a reasonably fair comparison.

I can still remember what a fast and fun learner Lil was as a puppy.. and still is as an adult.  In terms of running around an object, I think Lil figured it out quicker (she is super smart) but I had to gradually increase the distance with her.  Takoda took longer to figure it out initially, but once he did, the distance came “for free.”   The video of Takoda was the first time I tried adding distance. After I stopped recording because we’d be out of the frame anyway, we did a few more reps from 30+ feet away and Takoda confidently and consistently drove towards and around the barrel in both directions.. like he was born to do that. Hey wait a minute.. HE WAS BORN TO DO THAT! 🙂

I’ll have to get some video of Takoda doing the same type of flatwork like Lil is doing in the video. He is following my body cues brilliantly and enthusiastically.. just like Lil.

The next two videos are a follow-up on my post about tugging styles.

(above) This short video is an example of one of Takoda’s many styles of tugging. I refer to this style as moderate arousal level.

(above) A short video showing how Jake and Lil play tug. I think Jake’s tugging style and vocalizations are hilariously cute. Lil rarely vocalizes and is less-intense than Jake for sure. But then again, she is less intense than Jake is across the board.

I’m loving experiencing how ATs and BCs are inherently different and how they are the same which I suppose is largely due to them all having the same trainer.

This new bigger box feels good!

I love open-minded, expansive thinking, which could also be described as out-of-the-box thinking. The coolest aspect (in my opinion) is once people fully grasp the concept, they are able to not only SEE the box they are in, but they are also aware that breaking through one box places them in a bigger box vs. being free of all boxes.  This never-ending process of continuously searching for the next box to break out of is what expansive thinking is all about. For me this is the most exhilarating aspect of life, art, and dog training!
Yesterday I broke out of a dog training box.  This past week, I’ve been noticing that I have been feeling 100% trusting of Jake and thus letting him run off leash with Lil during our walks in the woods and I knew with absolute certainty that he would not run off.  But until yesterday, I didn’t know what had changed. He was still acting as high as usual, as rambunctious as usual, and even had that look on his face of “Go ahead, take the leash off, yeah, yeah, yeah, take it off, come on, you can trust me  ;).”  But yesterday,  I realized  what had changed.  Without realizing it, I have been playing the ultimate recall game all winter long.  It’s the GET OUT game, which puts running away ON CUE and by playing the game in a circle, Jake has been getting a ton of practice running away from me and then running back… full throttle!  The two big breakthroughs for Jake have been “Out-of sight-no longer means out-of-mind” and “Run away and keep running away until the cue for GET OUT changes to either WAIT, or HERE” which essentially keeps Jake mentally engaged with me while running ahead.

too bad I was still fussing with my phone when Jake raced away but I captured the recall!

With the distance training, I am using both verbal and motion cues.  The motion cues involve me walking slowly in the direction of the GET OUT, even if just taking tiny steps, with my body facing the dog’s path and arm extending forward.  When Jake and Lil are running away from me, either on the doggie racetrack or in the woods, when they check in visually, they see my motion which continues to support their path. My verbal cues are GET OUT followed by GO…. GO…. GO….
The 2nd Doggie Luge of the season is more like a racetrack due to bare grass.

The 2nd Doggie Luge of the season is more like a racetrack due to bare grass.

Above is a photograph of the current Doggie Racetrack.  The black mesh table on its side in the foreground is there to block off an icy patch (or puddle depending on the outside temp).  Each morning, I walk around the path to make sure there is no ice that would cause Jake or Lil to slip since they run super-duper fast around the racetrack.
Its funny, until yesterday, I thought we were only “working on” distance skills with the GET OUT games but now I am convinced the distance training is entirely responsible for Jake’s new-found love of running ahead of me off leash in the woods and then turning around BY HIS OWN CHOICE to either run back to me if I cue HERE, or to pause if I cue WAIT, or do a 180 turn and continue running away if I cue GO GO GO.
I love this new bigger box…Its so much roomier!  HA HA.   I can’t wait to begin figuring out where the walls of this new box are so I can break through those as well.   ps–The post preceding this one includes videos of a couple of  GET OUT sessions in the backyard.   Since those videos were shot, Jake is running faster than ever due to his increased understanding that the faster he runs away from me, the faster he can run back to get his reward.  How cool it that?