Last night Czar and I went for Twilight Training back at Knox Obedience Club, where he met some new female friends. He thinks he is such a lady's man!
Twilight Training is a smaller group, so we had combined Baby Puppy and Beginners Groups together. For most of us, this was our second training session in three days, and we probably looked pretty funny, struggling to keep up and remember all these new things. This time we were with Hume and his foster mum, instructor K. Hume has only been with his new family for three weeks, and has had minimal training, but was pretty amazing at picking up lots of the moves very quickly. K was incredibly patient and encouraging and full of great tips.
K moved us through a lot of moves really quickly, I think to keep the dogs from getting bored. We repeated Watch, Sit, Heel, Right About Turn, and then we started throwing in some new things. Drop. Left About Turn. Walking through combinations. Cue my bumbling around with lefts and rights, and trying not to trip over the lead!
I got frustrated, because we were asking the dogs to spend most of their time in Heel position. Czar knows Sit and Drop really well. In fact, he will often offer me a Drop without being asked, if I don't treat him quickly enough. But he only knows these things out in front of me. Because sledding is all about the dogs needing to run in front of the scooter, Heel is something we've never worked on. I could only get Czar to walk in Heel if I walked bent over, keeping my hand in front of his face beside my knee. As soon as my hand and the treat moved away, he would swing around in front of me and offer me a Sit.
Then we tried doing some tricks, starting with Shake. K recommended touching the right paw with my right hand, and treating immediately with the left, before trying to pick the paw up or introduce the command word. I got down in Czar's face and he backed up. Hmm. I tried reaching for his paw and he scooted sideways, his head coming down to see what I was doing. I tried again, same result. Was he trying to see if there was a treat in my hand? Or was he nervous about me touching his paw?
After class, Czar got to play a little with some of the other huskies, while their people reassured me that he would pick it up quickly, and I would one day be amazed. Appreciating the support but feeling discouraged nonetheless, I took Czar down to the off lead park for a quick run before we went home.
This morning before work, tonight before and after dinner, I tried the walking in Heel position and some of the other things. (Took a little bit of maneuvering the other three to get some "alone" time with Czar, but I managed.) Tonight I feel much more positive. I think he's starting to get the Heel thing, although I still feel like I'm almost treating too much. Is there such a thing? Shake has progressed from the skittish sidling away, to finally letting me gently stroke the paw, and getting rewarded for it. After that, he seems much more comfortable with letting me touch the leg. Teeny tiny baby steps.
One more try on our way to bed. Fingers crossed!