I found something really cool when I joined the Training Levels yahoo group. They had a link to something called the training tracker. Honestly, I don't know who took the time to develop this site or program, but it's an awesome tool. It is designed to allow you to log in your training sessions, what level of skills you're working on, and then what tests you've completed. Not only is it a way to track your progress on whatever skill and whatever level you're on, it automatically calculates your percentage of success with each behavior in a session.
Anyway, if you can't already tell, I'm liking it. One of the things that it's helping me to see is that I more often than I realized, I am getting an inconsistent response to cues, or having to give repeated cues. It seems funny to me that I was ignoring these things. You'd think it would be pretty obvious, but I guess I just needed to see on paper that some behaviors were successful only about 50% of the time.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, our weakest point is the one skill that most dogs learn first. "Sit" using a verbal cue only. LOL Maybe I didn't give it much attention, just assumed that she knew it. After seeing what our rate of success was on this skill, I realized it needed our attention. One of the things that was interesting is that when I'd give the verbal cue to sit when was facing me, she would flip around to sit in heel position. I thought about why this might be happening, and then realized that usually when the dogs are facing me, I am working on hand signals, not verbals. So, probably the most I have used a verbal Sit cue is when my dogs are in Heel position and we are doodling. For instance, I'll say, "up sit" when I want them to take one step with me and sit again in heel position. I think that inadvertantly, I've paired the verbal sit with being at my side. LOL
I decided to eliminate the possibility of her swinging into heel position by working with a wall on my left side. That kept her facing me and she seems to be understanding quickly that Sit just means sit, not get into heel position. Tonight she was 5 for 5 on sitting quickly and straight in front of me without the wall. Woohoo!
Anyway, to whoever came up with the training tracker, a big thank you from both Dare and I!
Eclipse and Weave poles
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