So I’ve been playing these food games with Lu for our Play Class with Polona. Basically the ideas have been 1) make food more exciting, and 2) make your dog give some energy before they get food. Eg. they have to put effort into getting food.
One of the exercises to promote this has been basically encouraging Lu to get to the food in my hand by any means – the complete opposite of ‘It’s Yer Choice” where they have to NOT get the food. It started off with rewarding her for snuffling and licking my hand – that was about all she wanted to give…. Now? She’s clawing and biting, barking at my hand, backing up in a drop and POUNCING my hand… her tail is wagging and she’s fully determined to get that food. The behaviours sound horrible! But….
Today we did a bit of strength and balance shaping – I haven’t done any in ages, bad me, and I noticed a definite change in her attitude. If anything, I’d say she was a lot more ‘alive’ and ‘present’ when training, and although she just wanted to stand up on me all the time (one of the tricks we’ve been working on for the class), everything had a lot more gusto and enthusiasm than I’d seen before.
Ok, it’s kind of hilarious when she’s literally trying to steal my dinner out of the bowl, or when she plucked the fork off the arm of the couch the other night, because it’s super naughty, and actually suggests she cares about something.
I have to be careful not to laugh too much at her when she’s being so naughty or she’ll learn to keep doing it for sure!
Yesterday at training she was FLYING. She did the weaves there after only a couple of goes of ‘not quite’ right – she can do them in different places, yeah! And she was back to doing her running DW like before – and this is the same place where she was super hesitant and weird on the up-ramp.
I found because she was happy and enthusiastic, that I was happy and relaxed and didn’t care about things, so when we didn’t do the little sequence right (totally my fault), it was EASY to actually be all like: “YAY GOOD JOB!” and mean it. I need to find a way to make Lu happy, so that I can be happy, and we can be happy and have fun. I’m hoping that her competition last weekend just gave her a taste of doing it ‘for real’ and she’ll start to love it more and more.