Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. Bouncy: Dog About Town

Ok, so given my choice of title, maybe I have been reading a few too many kids books lately.  But the title does sum up 2 of the key things I've been working on with Ziggy.

Mr. Bouncy
So I've mentioned a few times that Ziggy can be a little hard to motivate.  Thankfully, I've found something that he does like to do.  And, it's something that I can take into the obedience and rally rings with me:  Bouncing!

Both Sylvia Bishop and Celeste Meade are big on the bouncing to keep their dogs "up" in the ring.  My obedience instructor also likes her dogs to bounce between exercises to keep them engaged.  So I decided to give it a go.  The first time I tried bouncing with Ziggy he acted like his owner had gone crazy.  So I trained the bounce.  "Yippee"  means one big bounce, and "Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy" means bounce in place -- if he were a horse "Bouncy" would be like a horse rearing just a little bit many times in a row.  I trained these with food (jump up to get the food, click, treat) and with a toy (want this really cool squeaky toy?  you've gotta bounce to get it).

Ziggy now really likes to bounce.  I have him do "Bouncy, Bouncy" when I get home from work.  He's happy to see me, and he gets pets and attention if he bounces.  In a way, I'm doing the opposite of what most people want - I'm training him to bounce if wants attention.  But he loves it, and now "Bouncy" and "Yippee" really do pep him up and make him want to interact with me.  Fun!  A small step, I know, but Fun!

Dog About Town
When I first got Maggie, I was single and living alone.  Maggie went nearly everywhere with me - coffee shops, dinner at friends' houses, even to work many days.  I also trained in many new places - on the weekends we'd go to the park, do a bit of training, then take a hike.  Or we'd go to Home Depot or Petsmart and train.

My life is a little different now.  Husband, Child, more demanding job, trying to get back in shape, etc.  All of this is wonderful, but it makes pre-planned training junkets rather difficult.  So I've titled my new approach the "dog about town" approach.  If I have an errand to run (e.g.:  getting coffee, quick trip to the store) I'm taking Ziggy with me.  It's cool enough now that he can stay in his crate in the car.  All I have to do is grab some string cheese, the dog, and my training bag and do a bit of training when I get to my first stop.

Today's outing was to pick up The Child at daycare.  Ziggy and I spent about 10 minutes playing on the lawn outside the daycare before I went inside.  We did bounces, short bits of heeling, and worked on "close" (getting into heel position at the sit and watching mom) interspersed with cheese, cheers, and chasing a squeaky toy.  Sure, the other parents now think I'm insane, but both Ziggy and I had FUN!  His attention was good, and his attitude was great.  The other benefit is that The Child was very excited that one of the dogs was waiting in the car for him, so all 3 of us were happy!

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