His progress report reads:
Heel/Autosit- Learned and Proofed (Proofed means I've tested it around considerable distractions)
Sit at the left side- Learned and Proofed
Sit from the front- Learned and Proofed
Down at the left side- Learned and Proofed
Down from the front- Learned and Proofed
Recall- Learned and Proofed
Stay- Learned and will be tested
Place- Learned and will be tested
I am going to schedule at least one field trip, hopefully two into town to Proof his obedience in town. Preferably around kids. There is a relatively active park and playground near my apartment. Perhaps we will go there. We will start with a physical leash on as a back up but hopefully we will be able to work with just the Dogtra soon. Eventually his final test will be a walk on Mass. Street. He will have to wear a physical leash on Mass. as per the leash law.
Cowboy had a lot of fun with a horse toy today. A large red ball with a handle on it called a Jolly Ball. We kicked it around and he carried it in his mouth and moved it with his nose without barking at it. I am going to start making a list of possible constructive outlets for his herding instinct. We can train him until the cows come home but when they do he will still want to herd the cows. There are, however, many ways to use this instinct appropriately. So far the easiest one to do with limited space (like a back yard) that does not require purchasing livestock is to teach him to "herd" an exercise ball into a target. Another possibility is moving tennis balls with his nose into a laundry hamper or something. The big thing here is that, while he is allowed to bark and the balls during the game, when the ball is put away he must not bark at it. Also, he is allowed to nip the balls to move them but not hard enough to burst them. Luckily, the sound of an exercise ball exploding is usually reprimand enough to teach a dog to only nip with enough force to move the ball.
What having a game like this would provide is an outlet for his instincts without encouraging him to bite at people. He has been extremely easy to redirect from hyper-focusing on things like cats, people, even his Jolly Ball with a page (and one time he needed a nick) from the collar.
We did a hugging exercise today. My mother had the remote to his collar (as she would most likely be the one to get nipped as he has bonded nicely to me). We hugged a few times with varying degrees of excitement. The only time he misbehaved was when my mother walked swiftly across the room to hug me in a big bear hug. Cowboy muzzle punched her in the back of the leg and received a correction immediately. He then laid down and looked put out as we waltzed around the room. We will be repeating this exercise with different people every day until he goes home. At the very least it is a lot of fun.
Now he is enjoying some Placemat time while we watch a movie.