In the past month, my primary obedience-related focus with Sonic has been her hold for retrieving, getting her picking up a dumbbell and articles, and getting her started on Around the Clock Scent Discrimination. As I've written about several times recently, we started the Around the Clock process the day we left on our 15-day trip in late February, and have worked on them every day since. I don't think I've ever managed to be this consistent. My goal is to have her understanding that she should use her nose when presented with a collection of scent articles, not just grab the first one she gets to. I am teaching her this now because when I start her working on a bumper pile for field, I do want her to grab the first one she gets to, at least ideally. Because of the importance of scent articles for Utility, I will be more forgiving of potential 'shopping' in a bumper pile than field trainers who aren't doing scent work, but I am hopeful that she can understand the difference. Here she is doing Week 5 Day 2 today here at home:
We have continued to work Rhythm Heeling fairly regularly, though hardly at all during our trip.
The other big milestone was her first swims in real ponds. I am so glad I spent the time (and $'s) to teach her to swim in the local therapy pool. She is a very good swimmer, and was in fact difficult to keep out of the water. Here is her Florida swimming video:
She is really getting the idea of the field game. She had several marks thrown by other people during our trip, both land and water, and this morning, she did the land marks that everyone else did, though hers were shorter than Gryff's. Still, I think she is approaching the 100 yard mark, which thrills me. She only visited a gunner once today - that definitely needs more work! She is holding pretty steady in her sit stay until I release her, races out, is learning to hunt well, and usually racing back to me. I am not demanding a delivery to heel position. That is something we are working on 'in the yard.'
I have been working on field obedience with her every day since the Friday of the Mike Lardy seminar, after I was reminded by watching him what I should be working on. I do plan to have her able to work off both sides. I am very awkward with her on my right, but she is coping pretty well. We are doing walking on both sides, sits when I stop, sit stays, recalls, and finishes to both sides. I have introduced her to a heeling stick (kind of like a riding crop), the beginnings of collar conditioning, and just today, the beginnings of force fetch.
We will be showing in a supported entry in conformation next month, so I'm also doing a bit of work on stacking and gaiting. My son and I took several pictures of her today in honor of her reaching 7 months of age.
She's made some excellent progress in the past month. It will be fun to see where we are when she is 8 months old.