Lyra 8.5 months - leaving training
I haven't talked about Lyra for awhile.
She's 8.5 months old. She continues to be a delight on so many levels; friendly, calm, and very easy to manage. She enjoys working, though she is not obsessive about it. Her personal play skills are coming on very nicely. It could be that she is a playful dog by nature, or that I've really put in effort on those skills with Lyra.
Lyra's drive for food and toys gets stronger every day, but we have a long ways to go before I'm going to be satisfied with her toy play. As a result, I still spend most of our time together working on our interactions - play and toys, rather than on behavior. She already has plenty of behaviors.
Our biggest challenge continues to be focus in public when other fast moving dogs are present. I see progress but it will take time.
Lyra doesn't walk away from training too often anymore, but it happened today. I was working scent articles, an activity with little real excitement and a lot of opportunity for alternatives. I was fortunate that the videocamera was running. What do I do when she leaves training? At her stage of training, I am starting to end her lessons if she wanders off. I call that an "opportunity cost". Not only do I not let her continue to investigate whatever has caught her eye, I also don't bring her back to work. She is choosing between working or returning to the house - soon she will understand that well.
I've been adding this opportunity cost for about a month now - I would guess that she's had training ended approximately ten times in that month.
In this video, Lyra finds an interesting smell or sight (I'm not sure which) that pulls her away from me and off to the bushes. I tell her we're done and "go in the house". She's done. She returns to the house cheerfully enough, but she gets the message:
In an hour, I give her another chance. I keep everything the same; the location and the exercise. Again she finds something in the distance, but instead of walking away she returns to work. You can see that here:
This is what I need; bad decisions followed by good ones. She's getting there. This particular training session lasted 12 minutes; her distraction point came at about seven minutes. After that we moved on to move active work...more fun for her than scent articles.
You can also see how I'm working on our personal relationship in this second video. I make a point of interacting with her frequently, even as she holds her ball. I want her to value me - regardless of what toy she might be holding or whether I'm being an interesting person at that moment.
It would be more fun for me to post a video of Lyra being brilliant since I do have those videos as well. Then again, the purpose of this blog is to record Lyra growing up - and she's not always brilliant. Sometimes she's just a typical puppy doing typical puppy things on a typical puppy day. I'm not worried yet.