Day 4: Distraction Monster

I have to admit I’m not a good Rally Obedience student. I had an unusual desire to practice last month and it showed as Ruby made fast progress from being rewarded for every behavior to doing several in the row and maintaining speed and confidence (and mostly also precision). But during past two weeks we only practiced sporadically, in part because it was hot which means Ruby wasn’t as excited to train. I mean, he was still OK, he just lost that little extra spark that I’m addicted to, so I was like meh – whatever – we’ll practice some other time. Though to be fair to myself we did work on one thing: keeping elbows on the ground while waiting in a down position which was quite a project because all his life Ruby was waiting by keeping his left elbow off the floor which then gradually becomes both elbows off the floor and then a half-sit… you know where this is going πŸ™‚

Then we had to miss one class so there was even less incentive to practice. And then came yesterday… It turns out we better practice some more if I want to get rid of having treats on me! It’s funny, if this was agility and Ruby would have a much better focus with reward on me than without a reward I would take it very seriously, make a plan, analyze the videos to find best moments to reward, agonize over the great things that I didn’t reward and so on. Since this is rally obedience I’m just going with the flow, trusting he’s going to figure it out as long as I don’t make any major mistakes and otherwise just having fun teasing Ruby with the food bowl on the ground. When we’ll have a problem that won’t resolve on its own with some practice, then I’ll engage my brain. Until then, as long as he’s happy it’s all good. Of course I’m not saying that’s the best way to train… I’m just not motivated to do any better right now πŸ˜‰

First part of this video is pretty good, but in the second part after a break Ruby is a distraction monster. He reconnects pretty easily, but he disconnects even easier. I’m not worried about it. We’ll just do a more gradual fading of food on my body – some treats in my pockets to reward good stuff on the spot. And practicing more often should help as well πŸ˜› He kept his elbows on the ground much better this time, yay! πŸ™‚

More rally-o video coming tomorrow πŸ™‚

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7 thoughts on “Day 4: Distraction Monster

  1. Karen

    You are doing a good job of trying to make Rally look like fun… I’m so impressed!! And this is one of my most worst faults as a trainer: not training for longevity and always keeping the reward on my body. I suck!! Thanks for the friendly reminder that duration and proximity to reward takes intentional training as well.

    • Such encouraging words… thanks Karen! Actually it is fun once we’re in the class and Ruby starts showing off πŸ™‚ It’s just not so much fun to train on my own. We get so stuck in our little training rituals, don’t we? We feel comfortable in them and don’t want to rock the boat. That’s what scary to me about asking for more behaviors.

  2. I think the thing that keeps me from practicing Rally on my own is setting up the course – more than once I’ve started too late and have trained in the dark!

    I loved that last send to the toy. So much distance! Very impressive.

    And, oh my. Ruby’s commitment to heel position made me so happy. I’ve been really working on Elli maintaining her heel position – like Ruby does so well! Elli forges after several steps. Personal play is also another huge practicing thing for us; she deflates so easily. I’m quite envious of Ruby’s energy.

    • We’re not even at a stage where I would need to set up a whole course. Just picking 3-4 exercises to do at the park would go a long way right now. Hmmm maybe seeing all the problems on video will help me do more this week. Videos tend to have such influence over me πŸ˜‰

      Ruby did a ton of heeling as a youngster because he was so oblivious to my existence on the other end of the leash. Want to say hi to a person? Heel. Want to say hi to a dog? Heel. Want to sniff that tree? Heel some more. If he got distracted I took him back, sometimes all the way to the start. But because I never intended to compete in any sport that requires heeling I wasn’t worried about forging as long as he wasn’t cutting me off and was responsive enough to my shoulders that he would give me way on turns… that’s why his position is so forward I think πŸ™‚

      And yes, I love how he’s staying ON even when I’m being a bad handler! I need to find some games to remain connected the whole time. What do you do when you need to move from A to B? Except heeling, which we could do, I suppose. πŸ˜‰

  3. Love this! You make me want to train Rally! Love the brief tugging/ dog wins and using a toy and food.. remotely! Really great to see how positive and encouraging your sessions are.

    • Wow thanks Dev, I never thought our videos could inspire someone to want to try Rally. Life is full of surprises πŸ™‚

    • Wow thanks Dev, I never thought our videos could inspire someone to want to try Rally. Life is full of surprises πŸ™‚

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