Well I am a day late in posting this but I am not letting that stop me. It has been a busy week, and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon as we are now up to 6 training dogs in the kennel. Some of you may have read a bit about the train your dog monthly challenge I joined, if not you can find info here. I still need to figure out how to link up with the other blogs, and add a badge to my site. Anyone want to explain all this to me in simple terms?
But on to the challenge. This month I decided to take the first steps in climbing a mountain, metaphorically. The mountain is called “get Luna to relax on a mat.” Sounds simple to some of you probably but how many of you live with a vizsla? Being patient and sitting still is not usually in the breed description, especially if it is not their idea in the first place. It is one thing to lay nicely on an soft surface like a crate mat, it’s another thing to be content and relax while doing so… again those two adjectives are not usually used by a Vizsla.
But just like this girl likes to break the vizsla mold of typical-ness, I like a good challenge especially if it will make our lives more pleasant. There have been many times I wish to have her lay calmly at a restaurant, or take a break from working a trick to calm down… and if we ever get around to taking an official class laying on a mat will really come in handy.
We prepared a variety of treats, my girl isn’t picky but I figured I would mix it up. There are cheese bits, Kix cereal, hot dog pieces, carrot pieces, and some kibbles. If I was really high tech I may have picked a bowl with dividers for treats or something but Luna doesn’t mind if they touch each other, and I have yet to invest in a treat pouch (I am frugal, and still am convinced I can make a better one than most on shelves). She also rarely actually chews them so I doubt she can even tell the difference between pieces.
So on to the first mini goal, get her to lay on a mat when presented with it. I began by placing it on the kitchen floor and just waiting and seeing if she would offer the behavior. She got pretty good at going to the mat, touching it with her paws. But eventually she started getting frustrated and going to her default behaviors, pawing and talking. I then asked her to sit on it, but thought too much help would only add another hurdle we had to get over. So instead I asked around to see if someone could give some ideas on how to get her to lay on the mat.
A fellow blogger Tena said I should work on the “down” right before I plan to bring out the mat. Jackpot for some nice “downs” and then add the mat. Sure enough that did the trick. She was happily offering downs and jumped right to doing it on the mat no problem without me asking. So that mini goal can successfully be checked off the list. Now we just have to tackle the beast of being calm on the mat. So far it’s not going the greatest, I am still trying to think outside the box for ways to get quiet from her. As I mentioned she likes to talk when being impatient or frustrated, and if you want to know how good she is at talking feel free to go watch this video
I figure the plan of action as of now is to slowly stretch the time between treats. That’s the only plan I have come up with so far anyway.
Here is a video of us working on this goal.
This is probably the most boring video you will ever watch, maybe a tiny step above watching paint dry but hey I have to prove we worked on it somehow. For this video we worked for 3 minutes and 20 seconds straight, I could have gone longer but I didn’t want to bore you. Session lengths with her varied but usually lasted until the prepared treats ran out or the barking became too much for my sanity. After this session I released her with a “free” and I went to put the camera away. When I came back into the kitchen I found Luna laying on the mat looking relaxed and expectant. I was so tickled to see her make that connection all on her own, of course I praised her and threw a couple treats. It really gave me hope that this might actually be a possibility if we keep working on it. This has been an idea and goal in my head for a long time, I am glad I finally bit the bullet and have finally tried, and will continue to.
Now on to February. A goal has not come to me yet but I am sure I will think of something.
PS. if you have trouble with the video please let me know so I can fix it. It has been a long time since I posted any videos.