The Puzzle Week – Part 13: All the Way to Bowl #5!

The first time Puzzle makes it all the way to bowl #5/5! I should have released her rather than waiting for her to look back up at me at bowl #5. It took her a while; this was difficult for her!

Puzzle is getting more comfortable with the vacuum: she waits for me at bowl #2 rather than #1 even though the vacuum is already on when I return to her! She hesitates briefly at bowl #3. I could have kept going (watching the video, there was no reason to stop: she offered eye contact again after just a split second). In the moment in real time, I released her, remembering that I went too long in the previous session. In case of doubt, just end the session! Slow and steady wins the race.

Wheee! Puzzle makes it all the way up to bowl 5/5! Again, she then gets stuck there for a second. This time, I respond well: I take off the pressure and release her, end the session, and give her a break. She’s almost there!

In this session, Puzzle says we’re close enough when we get to bowl #3. That’s okay. Process is rarely linear. What matters most is listening to our learner. In the long run, this is how we build trust – both in our relationship and, as CU trainers, in the pattern games we play.

Puzzle hesitates at bowl #3. I wait, and she offers eye contact again. We make our way to bowl #4. This is where Puzzle lets me know we’re close enough for now, and I take off the pressure with a treat toss release. Good girl!

That’s it for today – check back for the next round of braving the vacuum tomorrow! Tomorrow, we’ll reach our goal, and then some!


For more dog training tips and videos, join Chrissi’s February class at FDSA: Calling All Dogs!

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