Sunday, April 26, 2020

COVID-19 Trick Dog Titles! Zorro TKI and Molly TKN

Something that has been bringing me a lot of joy lately was the reminder from AKC that Trick Dog titles can be done through video. A friend was offering evaluations so I got to work!

Zorro has his Novice title, we earned that on a beautiful trial day last fall at an outdoor trial when he was still a puppy. (I actually had never sent his paperwork in to AKC, we will see how much of a delay they tolerate!) And so, we got working on his Intermediate title. What was important to me right now was not just to earn a title, but to have some fun training some new skills and bonding with Zorro.

I certainly buffered the new tricks with skills that Zorro already has, those were:

Catch (a ball), 

Manipulate interactive canine game (Zorro eats his breakfast out of his puzzle ball every day and night.),

Go to your place (from 10 feet) - I did spend a little bit of time working at this with Zorro as the distance did not come as easily to him as I thought.

Heeling with Automatic Sit

Leg Weave is probably a grey area, we did spend some time on improving Zorro's understanding on this one. I originally taught it bent over with hand targets so we kept practicing so that I could actually be standing up and with less of a visible hand target lure for each weave. I started using a cue word of "weave" but I'm not sure that he needs it - my hand signals are pretty clear for him.

And our two Handlers Choice tricks were "Give Kisses" and "Shake". It was not too long ago that I taught Zorro to shake paw, and I did it simply because it is Vince's favorite trick. He was so thrilled when I finally taught that to Zorro.

New tricks that we worked on:

Head Down was not entirely new. I free shaped the beginnings of this a few months ago but we did spend some time sharpening his understanding of the criteria and getting the behavior on cue.

Roll Over was a trick on this list that I said, "I am not submitting for this title without teaching this trick!" We had a lot of fun working on this, Zorro had some very silly ideas during our shaping sessions. The funniest thing he did was shuffle backwards while in a sphinx down and I thought, "I will have to get that on cue!"

Shell Game was placing a treat under 1 of 3 cups and the dog has to target or knock over the cup that has the treat under it. We had not done this before. This was not too difficult for food motivated Zorro but we had to work through some t-rex demolition issues that reminded me very much of Molly!

Speaking of Molly, I submitted for her Novice Trick Dog title! We won't go any further, but we were out hiking and I thought, "I'll put together a video of 5 tricks right here and now!"
We did: Shake, Roll Over, Spin, Hand Target and Fetch It. Our video was interrupted by some target shooting in the distance. That made doing tricks very un-fun for Molly. I video'd her Fetch It clip at a park we stopped at on our way home from the hike.

Almost all of the dog training that I am doing right now is tricks training. Zorro and I are certainly working on some agility skills, but we are having a rainy spring and the yard takes about two days to dry out after heavy rains. It is disappointing but I think it also helps me pace our training. I am still currently working full time since I am a hospital (x-ray tech) worker, so training isn't so much out of boredom and excessive free time for me as it is a way to relax and unwind. Zorro and I are working on our Advanced Trick Dog title next. My "must have" trick on that list is Backwards Circles Around Handler. Fun!

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