3.02.2011

Distractions


With sock number one done late last week I felt certain the pair would see completion by the end of the month. Unfortunately sock two has been a case of the proverbial two rows forward, three rows tinked back. My classic error of feeling smug and on top of things, having my mind wander off somewhere and then re-engaging to find I have no idea where exactly I am other than (once again) in trouble!

I'm not the only one with a wandering mind though. Hudson's brain is all over the place these days and its costing as much additional effort to overcome as my silly knitting errors. Now in the final week of our first set of Pre Novice Obedience lessons, getting him to respond to commands is 10% of the challenge. Doing so in the presence of distractions takes 90% of the effort.

Hudson's "distractions" currently include things like twigs on the ground, people across the street, the need to "read" with his nose every lamp post and hydrant along our route, speeding traffic or it could be the scent of a bitch in season a couple of miles up wind!

Obviously the issue with the alluring scents of females will only be resolved with neutering but otherwise I'm managing the rest by trying to understand our training environment from his perspective. I need to take advantage of the learning opportunities these challenges present...
  • In the evenings we're working with a 30' lead close to where other dogs are running free in the local school yard.
  • I'm having him work at heel along streets strewn with twigs where the city has been doing late winter tree pruning.
  • When I know local off leash play areas will be empty, I head there and we work atop ground I'm sure, to Hudson, reeks of the latest doggy "news". Still I ask him to go through his paces without stopping to sniff at it until we're done.
Early Saturday after a Friday night snowfall we headed to a nearby riverside where I hoped lots of people would be out enjoying the lovely white scene. Every time someone approached I had him heel and sit and wait while they passed.  If they showed interest I would invite them to pat him.  For his part, he needed to stay sitting for the duration. By the end of the 2 hour hike he was coming back to me when he saw someone up ahead. He enjoyed all the interactions and  it was great to see a bit of success for my efforts!
This is what happens when the temperature is around freezing and the snow is soft packing snow. See the hair sticking out of the balls at the top on the left? Each ball is similarly formed around the length of the hair and since the snow at these temperatures is so sticky there's no breaking up the balls.  After the walk I have to immerse his legs in warm water and melt them off!


At last night's class two intact (un-neutered) males had a bit of a "discussion" just before class started. The doggy testosterone that must have filled that gymnasium kept Hudson, as well as the other male pups distracted until the dying minutes of the session. By the end Hudson managed to pull it back together so despite it being a 45 minute ordeal of a wrestling match between the two of us I have to think of it as an ultimately successful exercise.

I had to adopt a similar outlook when I got home from class and went to work on the socks...I may be tinking as much or more than I'm knitting but I'm sure going to love these when they're done!
Yes that nose in the background is my "helpful assistant". I'm not sure how I got any photos organized for posting before I had such a great helper!

Thanks for dropping by!

6 comments:

LynS said...

Love the colour of this sock yarn - what is it?. It tones well with Hudson and the snow!

Rue said...

That sock looks gorgeous! It sounds like Hudson is doing pretty well for a still relatively young pup - kudos to both of you for all of that hard work.

Acorn to Oak said...

The snow on Hudson's feet crack me up! It's not something I deal with often so it's fun to see. Good luck with the training! I understand the challenges and frustrations that go with that. Our "Salsa" is five years old now and even though she has learned a lot, it seems like the training an challenge of distractions never end. Our doggies are so cute and sweet that it's all worth it. I love the yarn on your sock. Good luck with that too! :-)

Brenda said...

I'm confused. I think those pictures are interchangeable. The first one could be cables and the latter could be Hudson's snowy toes.

helenkosings said...

You take such wonderful photos! Enjoy the snow - I am too ready for spring!

Honey the Great Dane said...

Sounds like you're doing all the right things with Hudson! I really admire your dedication and taking the time - so many people don't understand the importance of "distraction proofing" in training and don't spend enough time on it - they think their dog is "trained" if it can do the behaviour in one situation, in one place - and then can't understand why it totally ignores them everywhere else! :-) There are even some trainers who claim that a dog can't be considered "trained" until it is 100% reliable in every environment - which means no dog is ever fully trained - but it's a worthy goal to aim for! :-) That is what I do with Honey and I'm still continually looking for new situations and distractions to challenge her and practise - even our basic stuff. Of course, with our dancing in front of a live audience, sometimes in very busy environments with balloons, children, food, other dogs, etc - being able to ignore distractions and focus and follow commands is crucial to a successful performance!

By the way, thank you for your very interesting commentn about Muesli's "everywhere-ness" - I had never given it any thought before but you're right! I thikn maybe because we had Lemon previously so we were used to - to some extent - to having a cat around and what its like. I do still have rules though - like Muesli is not allowed on the dining table or kitchen counters - same rule for Lemon - so the cats in my house aren't just allowed ANYwhere! :-) I think they are so cute & fascinating to watch that you don't mind too much the places they do go...the one big difference that has really struck me is energy levels - gosh, she just never stops! It's weird having such a busy-busy-bee in the house after being used to Honey who is very placid and sedentary and basically sleeps all day if she could!

Hsin-Yi