Every single thing I have taught Perri has been purpose driven towards sports - be it rally-o, obedience or agility. I have underestimated how shy and sensitive she is. Perri is the first of my dogs that I have really embraced clicker training with - but even then it was perch work only because I wanted her to heel for the obedience ring. I am taking a step back, taking it down a notch and teaching Perri some tricks! (Just like Silvia Trkman suggests!) Perri's confidence and motivation needs to be built up and we need to learn how to have fun together and communicate with one another. We are also taking an "Introduction to Retrieve" class and I am learning how to shape a dumbbell retrieve with Perri. She thinks that it is great fun and that it is "just another trick", so we have plenty to keep us busy!
We started with an easy one. "Shake"! Since Perri has been so overwhelmed by perch work and I cannot work her very long with that, I thought that this would take a while. Not so! She was frustrated but it was not long before she moved her paw a little bit and got a click. Her head shot up and she gave me A Look. It was hilarious. It wasn't long before I got consistent paw movement and by the next day I have a cue on this and reliable performance. Wheeee, fun!
Next was "Sit Pretty". This one wasn't my idea, it was Luna's mommy's. We had just watched a Silvia Trkman trick DVD and she just started off holding a treat in the air and getting Perri to Sit Pretty for it. Perri did great albeit with a lot of attempts at jumping up or putting forepaws on the nearest object or human for balance. The next night when we tackled it at home, it was like she had spent the day practicing it or thinking about it. Perri gave a few unsteady Sit Prettys and received "jackpot" rewards. By tonight I have her consistently sitting up and I am putting a cue on it.
Our next project is that I want Perri to smile on cue. This is tough! It doesn't occur to her to just bare her teeth. I am starting by clicking for her licking her mouth, but that happens FAST and I am not the quickest clicker. I'm getting there though! I chose to do the mouth licking because often Perri will bare her teeth while licking her mouth. My hope is that once I get her consistently licking her mouth I will be able to click a grin here or there and she will get the idea. We will see!
The coolest thing is that I am not training this for any trial. I'm not burning towards any deadline. We are having fun together. I find myself laughing and enjoying my silly girl and already watching her confidence grow after just one week. Shaping tricks and behaviors is so absolutely beneficial and brave-making for my girl, and I am finding myself more excited about that and therapy work for her than anything else right now. I just want her to have fun.