A Training Plateau

We’ve reached a training plateau. It seems as if Gryffin isn’t really learning anything new right now. Perhaps I’m just unmotivated, as I’m feeling outstandingly well. Or perhaps it’s the constant time it takes. Or perhaps it’s the fact that he’s mastered the impressive stuff. Now we need to work on basics and small additions. For example, he’s really great at down when I ask. But there are many incremental steps from there to going down at a distance; staying down when I am out of sight; staying down for one minute longer; and so on and so forth. Similarly, he’s pretty good on the leash (especially when he’s in the harness) but that’s a different matter from pulling steadily but lightly when we walk, in the right direction; starting exactly when I start; stopping exactly when I stop and so on. So the most recent training session we had, which will also be the last one for at least a month, was a long list of incremental goals:

  • Down from a distance — 1/2 step at a time — rope play as reward (or food). To be done at first without harness and perhaps later with it.  This will eventually translate into me giving him all sorts of commands from a distance, but it’s the first one we’ll practice.
  • Let’s go — so that he always comes with me. He needs to follow where I lead in this and not pull back (or sideways, or forward too hard). After we get this on level ground in the house we’ll be working up to other locations, including out and about and on steps. The goal is to focus on places he doesn’t like, moments he tends not to listen. This will be done with harness.
  • Stand and wait — We’re moving away from an automatic sit to an automatic stand whenever he’s in the harness and at my side. This can be practiced with Let’s go.
  • Switch — We have decided to get a touch switch installed in my office. It’s been too hard to teach him to push a switch up (he pushes it down great). We’re practicing doing it reliably, and eventually from a distance, without the harness for now. Could do with rope play as reward. Many many repetitions.
  • Door — I had been using “open” and “close” but that’s confusing because some doors are pulled to open, others are pulled to close. Also he’s getting less eager to do this. We’re changing the names to “push” (with paws) and “take” (a rope in the mouth), with me deciding which one depending on which way the door needs to move. Will practice with harness.
  • Stays — work on longer stays. Daily. So easy to forget/ignore this. He just stayed nicely while I went and did something in a different room for a few minutes though :). We practiced sit and down stays that way today.

One of the challenges with Gryffin is that he does not like corrections. I have to minimize them to avoid turning him off training. And pump up the praise.

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