Takoda turned 13 weeks old today. I can’t believe how much learning has taken place over the past 5 weeks. He continues to astonish me with how adaptable his is and how quickly he learns. Every day is an entirely new day in terms of what he wakes up capable of doing.
Here are a few very short videos shot yesterday that show his progression with Silvia Trkman’s super fun game “Put the Spool in the Bowl.” It was the first time I asked him to put the spoon in my hand vs. in a bowl and he had no trouble transitioning, likely because he really seems to enjoy doing nose touches to my palm. The other possible factor was the retrieving breakthrough we had with his favorite fuzzy yellow chicken toy, which I wrote about a couple of days ago. He pushed the toy into me when giving it in a very intentional way.
I’ve played the spoon in the bowl game outdoors without being in the Ex-pen. I’m not sure why I did this session inside it but I’m glad I did because this morning we returned to the Ex-pen to see if he was able to place other things in my hand… and his answer was a resounding YES with three different objects. I attribute part of his success to having worked in the exact same environment the day before.
(above) putting the spoon in my left hand
(above) transitioning to the other hand by using both hands. I really should bend the spoon a little (and not with my mind HA HA). It’s really hard for him to pick up when it’s facing down but he sticks with it and gets the job done. Good boy!
(above) putting the spoon in my right hand
(above) putting the spoon in my hand while I am standing. One thing I love seeing is Takoda offering variations of heel position vs. choosing to stand in front and facing me. The reason he does this is because I have pretty much only rewarded him in heel position from Day One because of his strong, natural inclination to “herd from the front” like his daddy. While that works really well with cows and sheep, it does not work well with people or other dogs. I’m sure Jake and Lil agree entirely!
(above) Prior to working with the spoon, we did a few mark buckets. 4pm is not the best time for “active” work because it’s usually Takoda’s nap time. But whenever my videographer is available, I try to take advantage of it.
(above) I also like to mix in different types of recall games. Today I led out, released him, and had him catch up to me. But most of the time we practice recalls, I am not moving when I release him or when he is running towards me. Takoda came out-of-the-box with great natural chasing instincts so I don’t feel he needs to improve or even practice that skill. I also think too much chasing with a dog who naturally LOVES to chase might be counter-productive in terms of my long-term goal of having a confident dog who understands that when I take a big step or two big steps while indicating the path with my body language that he should RUN AHEAD of me in the direction I am indicating. I don’t want him to think his motion is tied to my motion as is the case when a dog is chasing the handler. Being able to GO ON without handler motion is a necessary skill for dogs to do big distances in NADAC which I hope Takoda will eventually be able to do… following in the footsteps of his big (little) sister Lil. 🙂
On a side note, I also use toys for practicing recalls but since Takoda’s toy drive is naturally stronger than his food drive, I like to use food as much as possible.