White Dog said, "I wish I could work your cell phone or the camera, momma, watching YoYoMa and Puff practice their skills and commands is pretty impressive." I try to work with White Dog, Yo, Puff and Nuka each day to keep their skills sharp and to reinforce vital knowledge. Our dear Quinn is usually excused and so far, Steve is the only one who is successful at keeping Oso's attention long enough to practice basic commands.
White Dog, formally trained for years, is a star. She knows her basic commands inside and out. She has a trick book of about 20 or so classics and variations. Her vocabulary is extensive...I love that I can ask her to get the white ball and she never slips and brings the red one; she knows the difference between the words, left and right; she knows "t-r-e-a-t" spells a yummy treat. Her problems in training are that the diva often is not in the mood for repetition and that if the command is not to her liking she goes temporarily deaf.
YoYoMa is one bright boy who is endlessly food motivated. He will down-stay until the cows come home as long as there is a reward at the end. His basic skills are nearly as good as WD's and he doesn't have quite the diva issue. Yet Another White Dog thinks "bring it" means to scoop up his toy (and he is pretty good at identifying his favorites by shape) and walk over to show you...don't touch it though...and then he it moves it a distance away for safety. He DOES a fine "leave it!" but looks over every 30 seconds to ask "what about now?"
Puff's participation in training itself is a training wonder, she still maintains so much of her feral outdoor dognness. But she is gradually getting the proper response to "come" and "enough" (to stop her panic barking attacks). She has gotten very good at "leave it!" during duck jerky time; she has greatly reduced her thefts of jerky from her siblings (in the old days often from their mouths). She is remorseless still, when it comes to grabbing and running instead of bringing it. But Still Another White Dog is trying hard to be trusting enough to "sit" in a crowd.
Nuka has an advantage in her deafness. Our practice involves hand signals and when she doesn't choose to take part or simply doesn't want to do what I am asking, she simply turns her back on me. Her increasing arthritis makes some of basic training like "sit" difficult for her. So our work usually focuses on "come," "wait," and my favorite trick, her response to my fishtailing my fingers, "Wag!"
My work with Quinn is of a different nature. Every morning and again and night, we work on his trust so that no matter his mental state he is comfortable and calmed by my touch and voice. I stroke him all over and make a point of touching his feet and ears and muzzle. The purpose if two-fold--to provide reassurance and to lessen the chances of being bitten handling him during a manic time.
We all take our work seriously and try hard to keep our skills sharp. I believe the constancy of what we do is important, using the same words and hand signals is something I practice as well as the WDA's responses. Together we are, as White Dog pointed out, a photo worthy drill team...but I am training and she has not mastered, YET, the command, "shoot it!"