Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Devon's Teeter: The rest of the story!

I cannot let the post on Sunday's run with Devon failing the teeter be the end of the story -- because there is more.

As I mentioned, I train and teach at this facility. So on Monday, I was able to get Devon on the floor again. I planned a nice flowing sequence of chute, triple, teeter for Devon. I warmed Devon up and got out the turkey brownies. She knew I had them because I let her sniff the bag. I asked her if she knew what she had to do to earn the turkey brownies, and she did.

The criteria for the teeter is no longer just doing the teeter in isolation. Devon must do the teeter in sequence on the first try. She's proven she can do it confidently, and she's been rewarded for it. So I asked Devon for chute, triple, teeter ... no teeter. She played around on the downside but wouldn't go over it. I called Devon to me and gave her one more try: chute, triple, teeter ... again no teeter.

This really didn't surprise me because she hadn't done it on Sunday. So, we very neutrally walked off the course without any turkey brownies. I put Devon back in her crate where she had a view of the floor ... and I got Page out!

Jealousy is the highest motivator for Devon. Me working with Page is what got Devon over the full height teeter again back in May. So no teeter, and mommy plays with Page instead! Page and I did several sequences and she could hear the teeter banging and me cheering and giving Page treats (she wasn't getting turkey brownies, but Devon didn't know that).

After four sequences all including the teeter, I put Page up and got Devon back out. Devon was foaming at the mouth and blowing spit bubbles coming out of her crate wanting those turkey brownies! She about tripped over herself getting onto the floor. This time when I asked for chute, triple, teeter, Devon sailed over the teeter without a second's hesitation. And she got her turkey brownies! When Devon doesn't catch the turkey brownie pieces in midair, she catches them on the first rebound off the floor!

Devon didn't miss a single teeter in any of the following sequences. I'm really hoping this communicated to her exactly why she gets walked off the course and exactly how she can stay on the course and earn her turkey brownies. I'm planning on doing the same thing tonight in class at the kennel club. And for the next few months, these will be the only two places we will trial so I can hopefully get a solid teeter performance by spring!

Devon really is some dog! She's got a lot of heart, and she's very smart and very funny. I'm incredibly lucky she wants to work with me so badly (and the turkey brownies obviously don't hurt!).


Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

I'm so glad the teeter story has a happy ending! I laughed out loud picturing Devon foaming at the mouth.

I completely agree with your decision on Sunday of bringing her off the course. Like you said, since she just did it the day before - at the same location - it wasn't fear, just a wrong choice. She's very smart so if it happens again (hopefully it won't, but if), I'm sure she'll catch on very quickly that her Adoration Procession (love that name, by the way) is only around for teeters!

Jealousy is a wonderful motivator in training. That's how I got Layla to retrieve, even though that kind of backfired on me, as she brings me the most random items from around the house. I wanted to make sure she could retrieve because that's one of the main things people (other Malamute owners as well as all-breed dog trainers) tell me, Malamutes just won't retrieve. Psh. A few times seeing the big deal I made over Casey the Lab retrieving some things, and now I've got it made.

Also, I love how you praise the dogs on the course. I'm sure I've said it before, how many handlers just scream at their dogs in a way that, if they screamed like that at people it would only be a matter of time before they got slapped. You sound genuine and sincere, and your dogs really love it!

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

PS ~ If you have the time, could you send me an email or a comment with the recipe for the turkey brownies? I think the dogs would love them.

Deb said...

You can thank Connor for teaching me about voice about 8 years ago. He was very sensitive and he doesn't have a lot of drive. When I would get competitive, he'd leave the ring. It also helped with Ian. Because he was afraid of people, if I kept a constant chatter out there telling him how smart he was and what a good boy he was, he'd focus on me and the job and not worry about the scary people. I learned to concentrate on what I was doing but keep up the mindless chatter with him. Multitasking on course! I don't think most people realize how their voice sounds when they are on course. If I was there dog, I wouldn't run for them!

Deb said...

Turkey Brownies:
ground turkey
quick oats

bake 350 degrees

They told me to make it like a meatloaf, so I did. One friend said she uses 1 egg per pound of turkey, except she said the last batch she made was ground turkey breast with no fat, so she added 2 eggs. I had about 1 pound, 3 ounces of ground turkey. I put in one egg, and the mixture was more moist than what I use as a meatloaf, so I put in a lot more oats than I would use on a meatloaf. When it was about meatloaf consistency, I put it in a greased pan and baked it for about 25 minutes, but my oven runs hot. My friend said she usually does 30 minutes. It came out looking more meatloaf like than cake like, but once it was refrigerated over night and then cut up it looked like a moist cake.