Gracie has had about 13 classes in her nearly 21 months of life so far, which means I’ve had those same classes. Plus a few more with other dogs that have blessed our lives in years past. We’ve taken almost all the classes offered at our training studio, though we still hope to do the Ph.D level of Canine Life and Social Skills when it is offered. And we continue to attend drop-in sessions of various sorts when we can. I’ve asked, too, about some classes not currently offered (Advance CGC) that may be offered someday…we shall see.
But when Gracie completed her Intermediate Tricks work, and it was time to move on to the Advance Tricks, it seemed like a good time for me to be more intentional about relying more on what I’ve learned, and less on having others show me how to teach something. Now it would be foolish of me to not ask for any advice – why reinvent the wheel? I’ve asked for advice from the trainers I know and from those handy You Tube videos here and there, but I’m trying hard to apply all I’ve learned in recent years and do it myself as much as I can.
The advanced tricks are much harder than the ones Gracie and I have learned before. I thought she’d never learn the “say your prayers” trick, and it took weeks of work to get it right, but she’s got it finally. It is all about a technique called Shaping, where Gracie gets clicks for approximating what I’m trying to teach, and each time she masters a certain part of the trick, I up the ante and wait for her to get the next piece down before I click and treat. Little by little she’s figured it out, and now she puts her paws up on my arm, puts her head down between her paws, and says her prayers. (Video embedded…cuteness warning!)
She’s got some of the tricks down cold, and when we’re training, I use those between the harder ones to give her a little break and a sense of accomplishment. One trick I’d plan to teach just wasn’t working at all, and I was afraid she might injure her back, so we’re working on a new one. It is the old “play dead” trick, except few people use that verbiage these days, given all the mass shootings. So for Gracie, she’s learning to “take a nap” (which is to lie on her side with her head down) and then to roll over and get up (“rise and shine”). It will be a fun trick with kids especially, but we’ve got a ways to go to get that one down still.
We’ll continue to work on her ten advanced tricks, and speaking only for myself (and perhaps for Gracie), it has been kind of fun to put on our big girl pants and figure things out (mostly) for ourselves. If we can’t do that after 13 classes, there’s something seriously wrong, right??
It will be a few more weeks before we’re ready, and there’s no rush. Better to practice and get it all down cold before we test. When and if we get our Advanced Tricks title I’ll have to try to get a video of some of Gracie’s cutest ones for you. Stay tuned.