Monday, September 12, 2011

Focus & Control; Class 1

Tonight was our first night at the Focus & Control class that Oscar and I have signed up for.  The class will run 8 weeks and going into tonight's class I was a little skeptical about what we would be doing.

Well, much to my delight, our first night was fantastic....we talked about each of the dogs and owners at the beginning and why we were all in class and, well, Oscar decided to make his presence known (i.e. have a barking fest) a couple of times, but he settled down after about 15-20 minutes.

The first night of class was based around a couple of concepts...

1.) Massage / TTouch
2.) Awareness walks
3.) Passive attention exercises (auto check-in)
4.) Default behavior

Oscar was not having it when we tried to do the massage/TTouch.  That was no surprise to this girl...he didn''t want to enjoy "relaxing" when he could be scanning all the ongoings in the classroom.  So, while I tried my best to stay calm, breathe and syncronize - it just wasn't happening.

On to the awareness walks.  Everyone in class took a turn and basically walked their dog down and back in the room and were instructed to stop in their tracks if/when their dogs went off to sniff stuff.  We were told to simply wait until the pups reorientated to us and mark and reward that.  Oscar was pretty dang good at this - we (well at least I) do this all the time on our walks.

For the last two exercises, we each went into our own gated off area.  We were all told to put a handful of treats on the ground while we unclipped the leash, then take one or two steps away.  When our pups reorientated to us, we were to mark and reward, then move another few steps.  Oscar did quite well with the auto check in.  I do this around the yard and in the house quite often (although I'm going to ramp it up now) we were very familiar with that exercise.

Last we built on the above by waiting for the dog to not only reorientate, but offer a default behavior (sit or a down) and mark and reward that.  We were then told to release them, then move a couple of steps and mark and reward for the default behavior.  Oscar, again, did quite well with this.  He was being quite silly and kept going and laying down on his leash that I left on the floor.  Silly puppy.

I'm really looking forward to progressing with my classmates.  The instructors were very understanding and told everyone that each individual dog will be progressing at different paces and will be working on different things.   I can't wait for our next class! :)

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