Nitro doesn’t live up to his name. He isn’t speedy or hyper. Quite frankly he would love to lay on the couch the rest of his life and have someone bring his food to him. Now that isn’t to say he doesn’t love a good romp in the yard with his brother, or playing with a toy here and there. But it has to be FUN for him. It can’t be tedious, take too much effort or anything like that.
I am part of an online group clickcompobedience through yahoogroups. Its lovely – lots of good trainers working hard to get good scores in obedience. Someone suggested Deb Jones “The Need for Speed”. Now this is typically an agility dvd but a lot of things really hit home. My dog isn’t nervous that I can tell but he does stress down, in other words he gets more lazy the more “stuff” that is going on.
After watching it, I decided I need to do some things different to help keep nitro up. I need to provide reinforcers that actually help ramp him up. Here are some things I have found that seem to help
Catching the treat. Why just put it in his mouth, he loves to catch food!
Chasing the treat. You can always toss it. My favorite quote from the video – the squirrel didn’t jump into the dogs mouth did it?
Spin – this doesn’t require jumping which he hates and you can add it into heeling and heavily reinforce it. It also redirects a dog right back to you.
Touch – for him, touching and jumping (nose to hand) is not something he loves. I keep my touches lower to the ground and only ask for a few.
Run through my legs – I have heavily trained cheeseball – throwing a treat between my legs. So if I ask him on a recall or any other time to “go through” he thinks its super fun!
Save your best treats for last. I keep a few favorite treats in my pocket and at the end of our training session I do some heeling. I do random patterns, throw in some auto sits, maybe some spins and end it with a jackpot of his favorite food.
If you have a flat dog, my advice is to watch them and with every exercise figure out – is this amping them up? or flattening them out? Keep track and use it!
Now, we have a trial in a few weeks so we’ll see how this all pays off. He knows the behavior, its just a matter of keeping him in the game!