I have been putting some serious focus into getting Perri to have "fun" and "enjoy" her Downs. It was suggested to me by a friend that I should try a different cue word for Perri's down out of a sitting position than I do for Perri's down out of a standing position, and that made a lot of sense to me. Yes the "down" position is a position and perhaps Perri should work her way to that position no matter what her body is doing when the cue is given. But I had to think about Perri and how she wants to be Right Every Time and how confusing it might be to her when I ask her to move her body in two very different ways and expect her to understand what I want, and I had to go ahead and give it a try.
Shaping this took all of...ten seconds. As soon as Perri offered a down out of her sitting position, she was hooked! Attaching the cue has been easy and the struggle now is to get her to only do it when asked! We are making some quick progress on that front as well. Time flew by tonight and I think we were training and playing together for well over twenty minutes and I had this wave of amazement that Perri was willing to work for so long. Isn't this the dog that would get so overwhelmed by thirty seconds of work that she would shut down and start sniffing? Perri's confidence has skyrocketed this year, and I am so proud of her. And every day that goes by, I am discovering a dog with actual drive. I love it.
I brought Perri upstairs out of our regular training area to start generalizing the behavior to some different locations and she did freeze for a minute. She was not initially willing to offer a drop up in my living room next to the sliding glass door (I did not use the cue word). Perri popped up into a stand and pivoted into heel position instead. I was secretly thrilled to see this because this is what we need to work through. I also thought it was adorable that she offered that. I moved back to my original position and waited ... and Perri offered a drop! We had a big party and jackpot! After that Perri seemed a lot more comfortable and was happy to do two more reps, and then I ended our session with the poodle tail wagging. Very short and fun session upstairs with Perri. We will begin there next time, I feel very positive about this!