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Old 01-07-2013, 06:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Utility articles question

So we are now working hard on the utility exercises. Most of them are coming along as I would expect, but I have one problem that I am not at all sure about how to solve. I have been working on scent discrimination since late last summer on and off. I am at the point where I think Lily really mostly understands the exercise. She is pretty reliable on the leather articles, but will sometimes just pick up any one of them or not work the pile at all if she is tired, so I can't say her understanding of the exercise is 100%.

My problem is with the metal. She has never picked up a metal article. I can do take, hold, give with metal articles. I can give her a metal article to hold and have her heel with it. I can give her a metal article, back away from her and call her to front. If I scent a metal article and send her to the pile she will indicate the correct article, she sometimes pushes it, but will not pick it up. She frankly usually gives me a look like "lady, are you kidding, no way am I picking that thing up." If I throw a leather article she will retrieve it, but I can't fool her into taking a metal article by throwing it. This isn't a strategy i really want to push since she has very strong retrieve drives and I don't want to confuse her by making it into a retrieve exercise.

I am willing to do whatever I need to do to work through this problem. I have J & J double bar articles. I will change them if I need to but don't really want to invest in a new set unless I know I will get results out of doing so. She is a really nice working dog who loves to retrieve, jump and even to heel. She nearly always scored in the mid 190s in novice and recent judges have made very nice comments about her in open, so I don't want to be too coercive and take away her lively attitude in the ring. Any suggestions from those of you with utility experience will be greatly appreciated.
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Lily AKC: CGC CD HIT CDX RN RA RE RAE RAE2 RAE3 RAE4 NA NAJ; APDT: RL-1; CPE: CL1-R, CL1-H, CL1-F, CL1-S, CL1
Peeves AKC: CGC BN RN RA
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Is there such thing as a "starter" metal article? Like a metal dumbell with a leather, felt, or tightly knitted cover that she can grip rather then the metal to at least "step up" to a bare dumbell? I wonder if you could work back from a metal article wrapped in leather, to one 1/2 wrapped, to one 1/4 wrapped, etc?
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for that suggestion. Some people I know have used a little fake sheepskin wrapped on the bar to start. I haven't tried that yet, but it is on my list of possible approaches.
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Lily AKC: CGC CD HIT CDX RN RA RE RAE RAE2 RAE3 RAE4 NA NAJ; APDT: RL-1; CPE: CL1-R, CL1-H, CL1-F, CL1-S, CL1
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Old 04-12-2013, 10:14 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default major breakthrough today

I stopped working on the utility articles with Lily for a while since they were so toxic to her. I made a fresh set of metal articles using wide mouth mason jar bands. To make them you take one ring and cut it in half. You take one half band and pop rivet it to the inside of an intact ring like a handle on a bucket.

I started working with the new articles last Friday at my obedience club. Lily indicated the correct article, but still wouldn't pick it up so I went out to her and put it in her mouth then backed away so she would follow me to sit front with it. We did this just a few times, with no leather articles in sight.

I waited until today to work the articles again. I started with two unscented metal and added one scented with "great bait." She went out and indicated the correct article, but again did not pick it up so I went out and gave it to her. I set her up for the same articles and sent her again and this time she picked up the correct article and brought it to front! Yeah Lily! I did this one more time outside the ring while another handler was working.

Then we went in the ring and did the A utility order. When we got to articles I had the instructor put out all of the metal articles. I sent her and she worked the pile nicely and then brought the correct article to me and sat at front. We added one unscented leather article as a distraction. She again took the correct metal article. This time she dropped it on the way back, but without a corrective suggestion to take it she picked it up on her own and brought it to front. We then did a scented leather article retrieve.

I am so thrilled at this breakthrough. I really was feeling very disheartened about this part of the utility routine, especially since the other exercises are really showing improvement. I think I can at least plan seriously to enter graduate open over the summer, maybe will even try utility A if she keeps up the progress we made today.
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Lily AKC: CGC CD HIT CDX RN RA RE RAE RAE2 RAE3 RAE4 NA NAJ; APDT: RL-1; CPE: CL1-R, CL1-H, CL1-F, CL1-S, CL1
Peeves AKC: CGC BN RN RA
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