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Evie the Boston Terrier is now just over 6 months- I believe her birthday is August 2nd (we have the same birth month :)). She went through basic obedience already and we're starting an intermediate obedience class that works on proofing on Saturday and her first Agility class on Sunday. We've been working hard on training the past few days in preparation so we're not embarrassed in the intermediate class. I'm super pumped to start agility with her- my first Boston LOVED it and was super intense and interested so I'm hoping she has the same drive for it, I'm really hoping to compete with her; I was never able to go very far with my first Boston because of dog aggression.

Commands she knows:
Sit
Come
Down (though she throws a fit every time I ask for it)
Leave it
Drop it

Commands she almost knows:
Touch
Look At Me

Commands we're working on:
Stay (duration, distance, distraction- she still doesn't seem to know what I want, so we're going back to basics and will be building duration very slowly before moving on to the others)
Paw
Sit Pretty
Line Up (facing same way as me, standing at heel)
Heel (on left side)
Stand

On my list to teach after she's gotten a handle on the new commands:
Play Dead/ "Bang"
Roll Over
Spin Left
Spin Right
Weave through legs
Weave through legs backwards

She seems to enjoy learning and approaches it with typical Boston Terrier intensity, but I have been having trouble phasing out treats. I'm also still figuring out her learning style- it took me a pretty long time to realize drilling wasn't working with her. If we focus on one command too long she starts to get frustrated, but if we do each command 5-10 times, switch to another, and come back to it, she seems much more likely to offer behaviors and try new things vs just shutting down/throwing a fit for the treat.

I'm excited to log our progress here- I'm going to try to get a video of us tomorrow going through her list and maybe I'll post asking for some pointers. She's growing into a really wonderful dog- happy, loves everything with a pulse, super energetic and fun, and even seems like she might make a good jogging partner on not-too-hot days! I've never had a bond quite like this with a dog- either in training or in daily life, so I'm excited to see how we do as a team in years to come!
 

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Evie now has her own Youtube Channel called EvietheBT (can't take credit for the name, a friend of mine suggested it as an instagram namewhen I first got her, I still have to set up her instagram).

Here's a video of us going through some of her commands (Sit, Down, Look At Me, Touch, Line Up, and Paw, which she just got last night):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkU7D5jIPNU
 

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We've now finished our Intermediate Obedience class- I like the trainer a lot, she was really helpful and had a great teaching style. I was looking for help in Evie breaking position in a sit and down, which she pointed out had to do with me rewarding her too high up so she had to break in order to get it. After only rewarding low down and without her breaking she got the message quickly. She also helped show me how to work on her Stay, though it still needs work. She does Rally with her dog (who she brought as a demo dog to class) and so was very helpful in teaching exercises to solidify a competition-type heel (spitting food at them as an attention exercise, working along a wall to help with position, teaching a back up command, etc).

We're really enjoying the agility class- Evie has yet to display even a slight hesitation on any of the obstacles and seems to grasp them all pretty quickly, she also seems to enjoy it of its own accord already so that's awesome. I think she likes the running and climbing. So far we've done a wobble board (which she barely noticed), worked on a baby dogwalk about 4" above the ground (walking over it for texture as well as teaching them how to turn around on it), worked on the hard tunnel at full length as well as with a tight blind turn (she LOVES the tunnel), and today started with weaves (doing the 2 by 2 system, although she didn't mention it by name and talked in terms of angles instead of in terms of a clock), and also started playing the "bang game" with the seesaw to teach them they're the ones making the scary noise (Evie didn't even notice the noise and even climbed onto it all the way on her own). It's definitely not geared towards people who want to compete but fulfills to essentials for those who want to, I think. It's a good way to make sure your dog actually likes the sport before sinking more money into it, I think.

I made a short/not great video showing some of her tricks she's got down now as well as some of the heel work we've been working on. Tomorrow I'll make a better one- it was super cold when we went out and by the end she was shivering pretty hard though you can't tell. The pavement was also very cold, which is why she wouldn't go down and why I have in to her.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnZqZO90pP8

I can now add the following to her list of known commands:
- Down (both verbal and hand cue, as well as a combination of the two)
- Sit (both verbal cue and hand cue)
- default sit (very good about sitting when she sees something she wants, like food or treats, or when we stop on walks, etc)
- Look at Me (verbal command)
- Spin- Both Directions (on hand cues, will offer about 95% of the time; hoping to also move it to only a verbal command)
- Paw
- High Five
- Finger Target ("Touch")- will jump up to touch, will walk over to touch
- Yellow Floor Target ("Target")- used in agility class to teach proper jump position (ie, to teach to look down when jumping instead of at handler)
- "Tunnel" (agility, closed tunnel)
- "Tire" (agility, tire jump)
- "Jump" (agility, jumping- only set to 4-6" because of age and not done very often)
- Heel (needs work)

For the most part she's gotten better about passing dogs on walks and is no longer lunging towards them in excitement. We're working hard to establish default attention/eye contact- she's starting to show the beginning of it though I'm not nearly happy with it yet.

On my to do list is:
- Work on Heel more
- Work on loose leash walking more
- Work on manners when passing other dogs (she has improved since I stopped letting her do on-leash greetings and ask her to look at me whenever I see a dog)
- Build some practice agility equipment and start practicing at home
- Teach weaving through my legs
- Teach play dead
- Transition spin to a vocal cue only
 

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I haven't been good about doing a training session every day like I've been trying- on the days that I work (as a nanny) I'm mentally exhausted from playing with 2 small children all day and haven't been pushing myself to work with Evie like I want to. That said, when I do work with her she makes amazingly fast progress.

I made some goals for this weekend and took her out to train in the neighborhood and our yard both yesterday and today. Today there was an adoption event in a park near us so we went there to proof some commands/work on her attention to me when there are other dogs. She was overwhelmed for the first five minutes that we were there, but they had a little agility course set up (2 jumps, a tunnel, a tire jump) and so I ran her on those a few times- it was the first time she'd done a sequence of events so I wasn't really expecting much and she definitely was not ready for it, but afterwards she was noticebly more attentive to me, so at least I know that our little intro agility class helped on her focus. Once she gets in the training zone she really improved- a few people let there dogs actually come up to us as I fed her treats- to the point that there muzzle was touching hers as she ate her treat- and she didn't break eye contact to even look at the other dog. I was really shocked at how little others were controlling their own dogs, actually. It was interesting to see as someone who plans to go into the dog training field. I had 2 people come ask me if I was a trainer (usually interrupting an attention exercise by petting my dog without asking or letting their dog come into Evie's space), and a bunch of people asking if she was adoptable (she was doing all her tricks at that point, lol), and had a long conversation with a couple who had a rat terrier/BC mix that was super noise reactive. We talked about Milan for a while and why I didn't like him (the husband did, but seemed open to what I had to say), and why I feel dominance theory is flawed. They've been flooding their dog with his fears and they said he's getting worse so I suggested R+ methods and pointed them towards clicker training to tire him out mentally (which they said they had trouble with) as well as agility for condifance. The wife seemed like she'd like clicker training, she was impressed by Evie's creativity (she was learning a new command so was offering a lot of behaviors before she got what I wanted).

I've noticed a new tendency with her that when I begin to put things on cue, the behavior falls apart a little bit. I've noticed that voice commands alone seem difficult for her, and she really prefers me to use both voice or hand commands or just a hand signal.

The new behaviors she now has are:
- Spin in both directions has been cemented on hand cues, our next session will focus on putting them on verbal cue
- "Line up"- where she moves herself into a heel position on my right side
- "Heel"- walking at heel on my right, now able to walk a block in a heel without breaking, able to walk short distances past other dogs, people trying to get her attention, kids running, etc, without breaking
- "Look at Me"- proofed around dogs now, will respond 99% of the time even with distractions
- Still coming up with a verbal command but with the hand signal of a finger gun she jumps on her hind legs and puts her front feet up, I'm thinking "paws up" will be the verbal marker. Eventually I'll chain this together with a play dead/ "Bang" command
- "Look Away"- she will reliably look away 90% of the time after a slight pause to think about it. I'm going to separate it into "look left" and "look right" since she clearly doesn't have a concrete understanding of what I want yet anyways

Still working on default attention when other dogs are around but she is now waiting to go say hi until I say "ok, go ahead" instead of running up, usually. She also is good about coming away from them when called.

We also made great progress on LLW in a flat collar today. I fed a lot of treats for the right position and stopped moving when she pulled.

On my to do list is:
- Proof heel more
- Put a vocal cue on "Paws Up"
- Teach weaving through my legs (I don't think this will be hard)
- Put "Look Left" and "Look Right" on cue
- Teach play dead
- Transition spin to a vocal cue only

I'll try to get a video today or tomorrow. She's doing so well for 8/9 months, I'm super proud!
 
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