Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sit Happens...

... but apparently not for two minutes...

... at least not at my house.

In fact, had I decided to video all my efforts to capture the elusive Level Four (two minute) Sit-Stay on video, I would have quite the Keystone Cops collection by now.

Now it's not like the boys, if sufficiently (self) motivated, are not capable of the physical act of sitting for two minutes at a time. I'm pretty sure I've seen them sit for five, maybe even ten minutes without twitching a whisker if they thought there was a chance something from the dinner table might find it's way to the floor.

Nope, what we're talking about here is me telling them to sit, me walking away 40 feet, turning around, and waiting for two minutes to elapse.

Today I thought I would try something different. Thinking a change in venue might do the trick, I took Zachary out back, set up the camera, and walked 40 feet way. Zachary did some lovely heads up heeling as we marched down the brick walkway - too bad we weren't working on that.

I let Beau tag along, figuring I could use him as my distraction. Otherwise ignoring the big dog, I pointed to my designated spot, told Zachary to sit-stay, and confidently walked 40' back down the brick walkway to the camera. I have to say I was a bit surprised when I turned around to see Beau sitting there as well.

Ok... synchronized sitting. There went one of my distractions, but I still had a tug toy and a ball at my disposal so I wasn't worried.

And I shouldn't have been, as 30 seconds later Zachary slumps into a down.


With the Big Dog still sitting tall, I decided to wait it out to see what would happen. After a minute I tossed the ball.

Nobody moved.

At 1:30 seconds I tossed the tug toy.

Nobody moved...

... for about 10 more seconds...

... then Beau slumped into a down as well.

Off went the camera, and I marched back down the brick walkway. Four big eyeballs stared up at me and nobody moved a muscle. I think somewhere in the back of Zachary's little mind something must of clicked, because as I stood there and glared at them (and no cookies appeared) Zachary sheepishly returned to a sit.

Beau, with more experience, held fast to his down. He no doubt realizes by now that if he wasn't supposed to have laid down, switching to a sit at this point wasn't going to help matters any.

And he would be right.

Enter the Keystone Cops, for as I made my "Thou Shalt Sit (and I really mean it this time!)" hand signal, Zachary took off down the walkway in search of the ball I had thrown earlier. Then Beau took off down the walkway after Zachary, prompting a case of synchronized zoomies.


I called Zachary (knowing it would have been pointless to call Beau) and attempted to reset things. I'll spare you the details - suffice it to say it wasn't pretty.

I gave it four more tries (yes, I'm a glutton for punishment) and never made it past the 1:30 mark again. Searching hard for a bright spot (between Zoomies, selective deafness, and dogs dropping and popping back up like Wack-a-Moles) I'd have to say that they did hold firm against all the distractions I tossed (literally) their way.

Now all I need is for them to grow a backbone.


D. Og said...

It is important to note that in using training treats the reward must be given to the dog immediately. Otherwise the dog might believe that it is being rewarded for another thing that he has done rather than the behavior that we want rewarded.

BZ Dogs said...

Absolutely true!

If I was just working Zachary it would have been easier. The unexpected addition of Beau, who also needed testing on his 2 minute down (which is why I kept going - just to see if Beau would stay seated) complicated the scene. I have no idea why Beau went down, as he normally is quite sound on his sits, other than perhaps because Zachary did and he was starting to doubt if he was right or not.

Obviously, this whole setup needs much more work at much shorter distances and shorter times.