Zeke's Breakthrough!!!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by tx_cowgirl, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    For those of you who haven't read previous posts, let me explain my Zekers. (If you really don't care, scroll down to the second paragraph.)

    Z is my 4-yr-old Border Collie/ACD. I got him at 3 months old and immediately battled separation anxiety. He was(and still is) extremely timid. Although he's become much more confident than his puppy days, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Even as a puppy, Zeke has never, ever been food motivated. If given the option of a fresh-cooked steak and a tennis ball, Zeke would no doubt lunge for the tennis ball. I had the hardest time just getting him to eat meals as a pup. When he was young, he didn't like anything---tennis balls, food, anything. He did looooove stuffed animals, but wouldn't work for them, and he thrived on praise. So, we learned the basics and a couple other tricks through praise alone. When Mud came along, she taught him how great tennis balls were, and from then on out he would jump the moon for a tennis ball. The downside to this has been that he does not lure with a tennis ball. Therefore, advanced tricks have been a total failure. He is very much a sight-learner. He learned agility solely by watching one of my other dogs run an agility course a few times. But the tricks have proved less interesting I guess.

    Anywho, today I was playing fetch with Zeke, his favorite game. I had been running through lots of tricks with Mudflap, asking for commands and throwing one of her toys. When Zeke's turn came I decided to try teaching him spin. It took a few tries on my part to figure out what would make him want to follow the tennis ball, and I think eventually he just got tired of not getting to play with it and decided to "chase" it. (Which, in essence, made him follow the lure--in a circle.) Pretty quickly, he was doing a perfect spin with very little luring with the tennis ball. Naturally, I got a little overzealous...and decided to try some other things. He knows directed jumping, jumping on cue, etc...but I've never tried jumping weird objects--hoops, body parts, bars completely unrelated to agility, etc. I grabbed one of my horse whips(NOT used to injure, frighten, or hit the horse in any way, but that's another story) and soon he was jumping back and forth over it on command. Then we tried my leg...in 2 tries he would launch himself over my leg either way anytime I asked.

    For Mudflap, this was easy and is an everyday thing. But for Zeke, this is an amazing breakthrough! I've never been able to teach him much at all, and even through advice of professionals we haven't been able to make any progress with advanced tricks. It's been difficult working with a completely toy motivated dog, but I'm learning a lot and he's doing great. I was soooo excited with his progress today and I think he was happy to do something new. I think our lesson today may have opened the door to much more progress in the future. I'm practically jumping up and down I'm so happy. :dogbiggrin:

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    More practice today and doing wonderful. ^^ Not sure what trick to try for next...
  3. maven New Member

    Wow! So cool! Congratulations -- it's great when there's a breakthrough like this. He's got to be having fun getting to figure things out. :) That really made me smile.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    :yipi: Great for Zekes!!!! Wonder what clicked...wonder what caused that breakthrough? Just wanting to get his beloved tennis ball? wow, bet you are right, bet Zekes might enjoy learning even more stuff!! I bet you WERE just about jumping up and down!!!

    thanks for sharing that, i smiled!!!:msngrin:
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I'm not sure what made it click, other than that he watched Mud immediately before our fun little lesson. Zeke learns a lot by just watching.

    I'm really happy to have him. I'm learning so much with him because he's challenged me more than any other dog I've ever worked with. Plus, tennis balls last much longer than a bag of treats! :doglaugh: I'm glad I'm figuring out how to work with him. I know he's so terribly bored with the same old, same old.

    I finally found a trainer I'm happy with who seems to understand I'm not just some idiot with a picky eater. We'll probably start a class with her as soon as I can find a good time to do it. (Others before her had tried to convince me that I could solve anything with a prong collar--to which I refused. Never have used one and don't plan to.) I'm hoping the class will help even more. We'll see. :)

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