Although this weekend's outdoor activites were thwarted by yet another spring snowstorm (I referred to yesterday as Gray the First), I was able to get in a fun Frisbee game with Ruby before the green was whited-out again. I've been incorporating the long line and flying disc into any outdoor training with Ruby, because it's the one thing I've found that she finds highly motivating, even in the presence of her many triggers. Recently, we even had a great experience with two different dogs being walked around the perimeter of the lawn we play on, where Ruby briefly looked at the dogs and then returned to obsessing over her Frisbee. For a dog so reactive she knows the sound of the doors of the places where dogs live opening from inside our house, this is huge. It was around that time I decided I needed to order the things (Booda's TailSpin Flyer if we're being specific) in bulk from our favorite online retailer. They are magic!
On Wednesday morning, Boca and I had a little outing planned and I wanted to make sure that Ruby got some one-on-one time as well, so I clipped on her long line (she knows what this means and can hardly contain herself) and grabbed her favorite pink-and-green toy. After her usual keepaway laps and my comedic attempts to pick up and throw the disc in the split second she gives me (dog logic ="no taking, only throwing!"), we happily and inadvertently discovered a new training game that I'll be building on throughout the month. My overstimulated, distracted, reactive dog was able to hold a down-stay at a respectable distance if it meant being released to rocket toward me and launch herself through the air to snatch her precious out of my raised hand. I really wish I had some video footage to share with you, as her focus and athleticism are something to behold.
I certainly never expected a seven-inch piece of neon nylon to become one of the most valuable positive training tools at my disposal, although I shouldn't be so surprised considering how we have used tug games for trick training in the house. Play is a wonderful way to shake up a routine and introduce new approaches to training challenges. Impulse control exercises such as the Relaxation Protocol and crate grames have been so valuable in helping Ruby channel her intensity, and I think we've only scratched the surface of what might be possible with the long line and the flying disc. I plan to adopt the outdoor down-stay as our training challenge for the month of May, increasing distance and duration and reporting back on the June 6th hop!
This post is part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, hosted by Cascadian Nomads,Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. This month's theme is incorporating play into training. The hop happens on the first Monday of every month, and is open for a full week - please join us in spreading the word about the rewards of positive training!