I've been trying to figure out more indoor training activities to do with the dogs this winter. It's not here yet but I can definitely feel the chill in the air and there is no doubt that the days are much shorter. So we're trying to figure out new routines that will keep us all sane and healthy. Plus, one of my primary goals for the cool season is to get Gata in great condition before it gets hot again. Hopefully, all her collapse issues will prove to be an acclimation issue.
So what am I going to do about all of this?
Longer term goal: Get the garage set up for training activities. What does that mean? Get all the rest of the stuff put away and the empty boxes out of there. Get some sort of padded and less slick flooring - it is just a regular cement floor in there. Get a small space heater to help take the chill out of the air.
I also signed up for one of Silvia Trkman's remote training courses. I decided on the puppy class since it is unlikely to interfere with any of our other training activities and I think it will be just plain old fun. Plus, I really like her philosophy and can imagine continuing to take her remote classes. We're just auditing but that should be more than adequate and I'll probably do most things with both dogs just to reinforce the training concepts in my mind. I'm of the opinion that going back to the basics is always good.
The layout of the course is as follows. Every two weeks a set of exercises is provided. People that are active participants are allowed to post videos to the training site and Silvia and others can view and comment on them. Auditors have full access to everything but can't post video, which is fine with me since I am technologically challenged when it comes to video anyway ;-)
1) Load the Clicker - both of the dogs are very fluent in the use of markers but I have been using "Yes" more than a click recently. So will definitely do some of that with both dogs.
2) Recalls - Can you ever do too much work on recalls? I wasn't intending to turn it into a game of hide and seek but did move to other rooms in the house to make it more fun (faster) for the dogs. They definitely like the game :-)
3) Step Pad - Silvia recommends using a plate but I just went straight back to the step pad for this. Both dogs know it well and I can use it for many more things with them, e.g. positions changes while reinforcing the idea of not moving forward or back, rear end awareness work, Braille heeling, etc.
4) Food Refusal - This is definitely something that I want to do with both of them. I just need to figure out a better way to do it than what Silvia recommends since I am using their dinner raw meat mix as their reward but that might be as simple as putting it on a plastic lid or something to keep it from staining the flooring.
5) Standing in a box or drawer - I need to find the right sizes of boxes for this but until I do I started with the round rubber feed tub set right side up. The dogs are already used to using it as a step pad so the challenge will be to get them to step into it with their back feet. So until I find a box, we'll just work on getting the pairs of front or back feet in it at the same time. That should take a few days to get it comfortably for each of them. Though, I actually got Tor's two left feet in it tonight. I think this is going to be a great back end awareness exercise.
6) Frog Stretch - This is something that a lot of puppies do but neither of my dogs do any more. So I think that I will skip this one.
The dogs are really enjoying their evening dinner training sessions. They are totally up for it and are working hard at pretty simple exercises, which means they are getting rewarded quickly and that only makes them work harder. So it is all good.
Now, I just have to get better about getting up early enough to make sure that they get an opportunity to chase a ball in the morning most days. Sigh ... 4:30 just comes too fast. Oh well, that's the price I pay for these two :-)