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Treat'n'train

Tykki's brother Svensson is staying with us while his people are on holiday. We have been training "out" in the round pen with Petsu, Tykki and Svensson, and it is working out all right with Tykki and Svensson. When they are pushed out, they give way and widen their outrun.

With Petsu things have not worked out as well. If I try to push him out, he gets confused and frustrated, and starts barking at me. I tried several variations of the exercise, but could not make it work out.

Since Petsu knows well what the clicker means, I figured maybe I could use it to tell him what I want him to do. So today we went into the round pen without the sheep to see if I could train him to circle in the pen around the perimeter. Unfortunately the best laid plans do not always play out the way we would like. Even without the sheep (or maybe because of lack of them), Petsu was extremely wound up, not at all in a frame of mind conducive to learning. We did make some small progress, but nothing to brag about.

Somewhat frustrated, I decided to give another idea a try. Everyone knows that a dog that is turned on to herding will not be interested in treats on the pasture. Nevertheless, I armed myself with a handful of Frolics and off to the pasture we went. Petsu fetched me the sheep, and I asked him to lie down. When he did so, I threw him a Frolic and gave the walk-up command "pet-pet". He picked up the Frolic and started walking toward the sheep munching on his treat. I started walking with the sheep, and kept throwing Frolics at Petsu.

It was quite an interesting experience. Petsu kept his distance at where the treats were falling, and walked very calmly. There was no push from the sheep, because Petsu was keeping his distance. All of a sudden all the usual hurry just disappeared. I am really looking forward to see if I could produce a lasting effect this easily. At least in principle it should be possible, as the dog is exhibiting the correct behavior, and is being rewarded for it both by the treat and the chance to continue working.