Now that we’re getting to a place with all the dogs where everyone can be productively trained at home, new challenges have arisen. For the most part, the place that we go to for class (which we affectionately refer to as “school”) is somewhat sterile. I call it sterile in the sense that there’s not a ton of food smells (in the case of Roo), there’s plenty of space and not too many distracting objects, the other dogs are all restrained and under control (nobody is having a wrestling match in the other room or begging at the baby gate as is the case when poor Joe is practicing at home), and we’re in a novel environment that has come to mean “when we go into this place we have to do something so we better pay attention”! The dogs act much differently at school – they’re more focused and less silly. Getting that same focus at home can be tricky.
Home is a different story. It smells, well, homey. If I put whatever food Roo is searching for on the counter, often times he’ll indicate it’s on the counter… which isn’t wrong, but it’s also in the keybox on the door frame where I hoped he would “find it”. I’ve gotten around that problem by putting the treats in the fridge (aha!) but occasionally he’ll still go to a place that smells similar to the food he’s looking for, probably because some was dropped there at some point. Most of the time he doesn’t have a problem and if we reset him, he finds it right away. I just hope we’re not confusing him!
Joe is much easier to work with at home. He is very good at ignoring distractions (he couldn’t care less about his siblings watching him over the baby gate), but I have a terrible time making time for him. Until this point I have treated Joe how a super smart but lazy student treats studying – I know he is naturally very smart, obedient, and quick to catch on, so we only practice a couple times per week. This may have gotten us through so far, but it is certainly not getting us ready to compete! Joe has so much untapped potential that I’d hate to waste because I didn’t take the time to practice with him.
The other wrench in the machine is I will be taking on a few part time jobs, which means there will be even less free time available for training. I’m working out a way to make my little training sessions as dense and efficient as possible and I’ll let you know what I come up with!
(I guess we’ll have to spend less time goofing around with the vacuum… Much to Roo Frank’s dismay.)