Week 4!! One month in to our training and we are doing great!! Today was an exciting day all-around! Not only did Matthew, the trio and I take an exciting geocaching field trip in the woods, but he also got the "high paw" from Ronin's psychiatrist who gave us the all important "required service dog note" that we'll keep in Matthew's vest and use to apply for his official service dog status! And a big plus...I found out that ALL of Matthew's expenses are TAX DEDUCTIBLE That made the husband VERY happy.
Okay, but on to Training Thursday. We're on Spring Break this week, so Helene came to our house. It's always nice to have the trio around to make training a 100lb dog even MORE fun!
Today we worked on the command "come." This is a command that I have been waiting for. "Come" is a HUGE game for Matthew. I'll call him, he'll come up just close enough to make me think I can grab him, then he'll laugh at me and haul ass away. James or the kids have been careless a very small handful of times and Matthew has gotten out of the house or backyard. He doesn't go far, but he could...easily. And he doesn't come when we call him. I have to turn it into a game and get him to chase me back in to the house or yard, and then quickly shut the door or fence. It's a PITA and it's dangerous; for him, and for any small animal that he might want to play with. But when we're INSIDE the house, it's not an issue. Matthew is attached to my hip most of the time, and if he's not, all I have to do is call him and he literally comes hauling ass like a bull in a China shop straight at me. But outside...outside is a different matter when he's off-leash.
First and foremost I had to learn that my voice for the "come" command has to be friendly, exciting, cheerful. Never angry, and never yell. Who would want to come to a screaming banshee?? (I must remember this for my kids....)
We began practicing with a L.O.N.G. leash so that he could have some freedom to explore, sort of lose himself in the moment, and then I'd say "Matthew Come" and he better start coming...and if he didn't, I had him on leash and I'd reel him in, pulling the leash until he arrives at my feet, and then I want him at a sit in front of me. We had lots of treats, lots of leash, and LOTS of distraction.
I was excited, I was ready.
And we practiced. When I call Matthew to a come, he needs to come every single time. It's not optional. I need to be able to reinforce that he HAS NO CHOICE but to come when I call him. Therefore, when we practice he'll be kept on the long leash (I need to procure one from the pet store) and gradually we'll make modifications; long leash me holding it, long leash with him dragging it, and eventually losing the leash all together. We also need to practice EVERYWHERE where he needs to come; by the lake, in the backyard, in the house, in the front yard, (not the dog park, never going there!) basically anywhere and everywhere where he could be off-leash.
He loves me so much and I am as equally fond of him.
Working down near the lake proved to be the most challenging (lab/water=lots to do!) as did having the children around, but we'll get it. We've got all the other commands down pretty dang well, so this one will just take lots of practice, just like all our other commands! Dog training (like kid raising) doesn't stop as soon you think they know it. You keep going, you keep reinforcing, you keep praising, you keep building upon what they already know.
We're still discussing what we're going to do next Thursday. But one thing is for sure...I'll be practicing come A LOT. Because I really don't like it when my family doesn't come when I call them. It's sort of a pet peeve and drives me a bit batty.
If you trained your dog what was the most DIFFICULT command for your pup to learn?