This is how my window looked this morning. Good grief! Not another problem!
Oh, well, what’s a little condensation (yeah, that’s dripping water, not ice). And I’m not going to even mention the broken door knob on the door out to the backyard.
On to a more pleasant topic.
Java and I started a Dog Obedience II class last week. Never mind that we haven’t had Dog Obedience I, although we did do a community ed. puppy class. I figured that Java has the basics and what she really needs is some tweeking and some work with listening when there are distractions — like other dogs.
I was expecting the usual — big room, dogs and people lined up, we do a lot of heeling around the room, etc. Instead, there were about 6 dog and people sets gathered in a small room and we pretty much never moved from our appointed piece of floor.
Instead, we started out by just working on timing. Without looking for any particular behavior from our dog, we simply used our clicker and gave our dog a treat. The important thing was to not have our hand in the bag with the treats, which is distracting, but simply have our hands by our sides or clasped in front of us, to click, then reach for our treat and give it to our dog.
Once the instructor, Linda, saw that our timing was pretty good (she said even professionals do not get the timing right 100% of the time), she had us wait for our dogs to look us in the face, then click, then treat. And once we had that timing down, she had us back up holding the leash, and while the dog followed our motion, we were to click and treat. It was important to click while the dog was actively moving with us and not move, stop, click, then treat. Otherwise the dog would think stopping was what he was being rewarded for.
We spent the entire lesson on timing and understanding the principles of dog behavior and training. It was really quite interesting. I’ve always had a hard time using a clicker in other dog classes I’ve taken and had given up on using one. But the way Linda explained it, broke it down, and had us practice it a piece at a time, really helped.
Our assignment in between classes is to choose a behavior, such as the dog lying down, click when the dog exhibits the chosen behavior and give the dog a treat. We were told to select whatever trick we wanted but only work on one behavior per day. The hardest part is that we are not to tell the dog what we want her to do but simply wait for the behavior, click, and reward. The reason for doing this is to get our dogs to focus on us, to problem solve what it is they can do to earn a reward, and to learn that the click means they got it right and will get a treat.
This idea of not using a command was confusing at first and is hard to stick to when I see Java looking to me to give her some kind of hint.
Yes, I do see how it makes Java focus on me and gets her to problem solve. Once she does whatever I was waiting for, she quickly (or sort of quickly) understands and repeats the behavior over and over.
This technique is also a good way to teach a trick, such as bowing, yawning, or even sneezing. Every time your dog exhibits one of these natural behaviors, such as the dog stretching with it’s paws out and head down, you can click and reward and turn it into a trick. You can use a command like “Who’s the queen?” and have your dog bow down in front of you. I’m going to start working on that one first chance I get.
After a hard day of dog training, I went out and found a pair of winter riding boots. Aren’t they sexy?
They are awfully stiff and I discovered they make annoying squeeky noises while I ride, but they work.
I am a bit perplexed about why boot manufacturers make these things to fit the calves of a 12-year-old boy. Hello!!! They are “winter” boots, ya know — long underwear, fleece-lined breeches, and a pair of wool socks have to fit into them! A video of how I pushed on the flesh of my calves to compress them into the boots would probably win a prize on funniest home videos but I couldn’t stand the humiliation…
Since I bought the boots a size bigger than my normal shoes, I think I can fit foot warmers into the toe.
I also bought these riding mittens as my fingers get so cold in gloves. Talk to the hand, man…
I tried the mittens out (along with the boots) on Tuesday and they worked pretty well. I think there is even room for hand warmers. (Luke worked pretty well too. We are becoming quite the team).
So bring it on winter! I’m set! Well, except I don’t have my Under Armour yet. I can’t believe that a pair of thermo underwear can cost $50 to $70! But I did try on the Base 3 and boy, are they comfortable! I decided to see if I could find them cheaper on line. It appears not.