Archive for November, 2009

2-Min. Dog Trainer, 50 days of writing

November 27, 2009

Today I’m beginning 50 days of writing. I’m reworking all the 2-Minute Dog Trainer brochures, converting them to the unfolded, 2-sided, version.

I’m hopeful this will make copying and storing the 2-Minute homework easier.

Additionally, I’m working through the overall structure of the document. I’ve got four categories of handouts, each with its own audience, and I want to enable folks to purchase individual chapters as well as the entire book of handouts.

Basic Obedience, formerly the shelter package, will be enlarged to include more exercises to encourage ongoing training of the family pet.

Sport Foundation package never actually got posted to the webstore. I’ve e-mailed a few copies of this package to our supporters, and have been using the homework for our students, but it’s had limited exposure. I want to expand the sport foundation package to include more agility work, some tracking, some freestyle, and some retrieving (ball-fetching).

Advanced Obedience, the skills covered in Go Rally Training Manual, will have 30+ handouts to accompany the training manual used by instructors.

Advanced Agility, including some of the handout material Bud (Houston) created years ago for our beginner agility classes. The advanced obedience and agility homework handouts will build on the presentation in the sport foundation chapter.

Additionally, I intend to blog each day for the next 50 days. We’re setting up our 2010 camp schedule including instructor’s camp and (perhaps) rally camp. I want to wrap my head around our new “deconstructed” camp price schedule and will be describing different options.

In other news, my sister and her husband drove to her son’s new home in Martinsburg, WV, for Thanksgiving. Bud left for a judging assignment in Jacksonville, FL.

That left Mom and I on our own for Thanksgiving and we decided to help serve dinner to local folks at Norwood United Methodist Church. Norwood is a neighborhood in Marietta where my parents lived for a year or two, over 50 years ago — that is so hard to absorb.

I’ve seen pictures of myself somewhere around ages one or two, dressed for Easter, in the front yard of a house in Norwood. By the time I was three we’d moved to another rental property. By the time I was four we’d bought a house in Williamstown, WV.

I’m trying to picture a world in which I would be moving every year with FOUR children. This must  have been an exhausting time for my Mom. When they finally moved into the house they purchased she was 9 months pregnant and actually went into labor with her fifth (and last) child as the family was moving. Sheesh ….

Today I’m housebound, catching up on chores. I’ve also trimmed Kory’s toenails and helped him relax during that process. He was actually very good, enjoying the belly rubs that occurred during the grooming session. He’s actually acting more and more like an adult dog.

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2-minute dog trainer, last camp of 2009

November 15, 2009

Today we start the first day of the last camp of 2009!

This camp is followed by about 3 weeks of frenetic travel for Bud including two 3-day trials, a NADAC judging clinic, and 3 days of NADAC judges testing. He’ll be flying from here to Kansas City, home, then to Florida, then to Texas, and finally home again in early December.

Because of his busy schedule in the next month I decided to have him bring the big Christmas tree from the basement. My Mom and sister helped me assemble it and get most of the lights working.

This tree came with the house. No one in my family wanted it, so it stayed with the house for which it was purchased.

It’s a pain in the butt, frankly. I decided about 5 years ago to not buy “pre-lit” trees anymore. When one light goes a whole branch goes. The manufacturers give you all these instructions and extra light bulbs, but who in their right mind is going to try to follow the cords on a 300-light tree to find the one bulb causing all the problems.

What most folks do, of course, is buy a cheap strand of lights and add them to the tree. So wouldn’t it just be easier to buy the tree and the lights separately? That way, when a string of lights is broken you just replace them, rather than leaving them on the tree and adding more lights.

Anyway, bottom line, it’s November 15th and I think I’ve broken all my previous records by actually having my Christmas tree up in the living room. I even had it lit for a few hours yesterday, just for kicks.

Our campers arrived before dark so they didn’t notice the lit tree in the living room. They’ll see it tonight when they come to dinner. Their comments will be interesting.

This group of campers are all friends and most of the dogs working in this camp will be Brittanys. One camper’s aussie injured himself 2 weeks ago (chasing a cat and ran into a framed picture leaning against a wall — I have aussies, so I can picture the lack of impulse control that started the whole scenario).

She’ll be working a Houston loaner dog, my 9-1/2-year-old Dash. I still think of him as a youngster but I’ll have to keep an eye pealed to any signs of exhaustion on his part.

With only 4 dogs working in camp they’re sure to get a lot of work. On Tuesday, with evening classes coinciding with camp dinner, we’re going to give our 2010 camp schedule a test run.

Our 2009 schedule is all group training — 9-to-noon and 2-to-5 — with dinner at 6:00.

Our 2010 schedule is part group training — 9-to-noon — then private lessons or small groups — 1-to-5 — followed by an optional group meal at 6:00 p.m.

I’m really intrigued with the idea of being able to deconstruct the elements of a camp and allow folks to pick the events they want.

By pricing camps as components a 2010 camper may choose to do 2 or 3 days of a 4-day camp with their friends. They may, as a group, choose to fix their own meals in one of the cottages rather than coming to the log house for dinner.

And they may choose to join our Tuesday night classes and league play while here as well.

This Tuesday, with classes from 6-8:30 p.m. coinciding with campers dinner, we’re going to test out the 2010 camp schedule.

We’ll work group exercises from 9-to-noon, take a 1-hour break, then have either private lessons (friends are welcome to stay, videotape, take notes, whatever) until 4, take a short break, and meet for dinner before classes.

I’m looking forward to a busy month, followed by winter with lots of writing projects (including all the 2-Minute Dog Training homework for “Go Rally Training Manual”), some dog training, lots of swimming, and a few evening classes and workshops.

I’ll be reporting in DogSports magazine the results of my sport foundation training class. Hickory (aka “Kory”) will be my primary guinnea pig, though Hazard is going to be learning obedience and rally through the winter as well.

Marietta, OH, Petland update from Missy

November 12, 2009

From local resident, Missy, regarding my info

I guess I should give more details. I was there yesterday following a similar rumor. They were giong out of business,
but the corporate office stepped in and did some restructuring instead. Most of the dogs and high dollar animals were taken back before the closing sale was scheduled to happen. They plan to have the dogs back next week. Everything in the store except for pet food is on sale at 25% off this week.      Missy”

 

2 Min. Dog Trainer, local store closing

November 12, 2009

I heard through the grapevine yesterday that our local Petland suddenly closed.

I’ve not stepped foot in this store since it opened, primarily because they sold puppies from puppy-mills.

I’ve passed it countless times, leaving Lowe’s, and seen a recent Petland customer carrying their bulldog puppy, or yorkie puppy, etc. to their car. I always hope the person doesn’t have a horrible experience, and that the puppy lives to a happy, healthy old age, but I know in my heart that neither are likely.

I’ve taken phone calls for obedience training from folks who have housetraining issues, temperament issues, health issues, and — when I ask where they got their dog — a fair share of them say Petland.

My pet peeve (no pun intended), by the way, is the fact that people will walk into a puppy-mill retail operation, pay hundreds of dollars (at only $39.99 a month for just 4 years!) for a puppy-mill product, but will balk at paying $50 for the dog training that will give them some tools to fix the issues they have with the dog.

I guess if I charged them $2.50 a month for 4 years they’d be happier with the price. What they really want is a free phone consultation. Afterall, we both love dogs, right? 

I’ll often help them longer than some folks would but still, the real point I want to educate them on is that a healthy, well-bred puppy from a reputable breeder, who has the parents on site, who has invested hundreds of dollars in pre-natal care, and who investigates her buyers, costs hundreds of dollars LESS than the Petland puppy.

The start-up costs (the cost of the puppy, transportation, bedding, crates, bowls, etc.) may seem higher unless you do the math, but thousands of dollars will probably be saved in health care over the next 15 years.

Oh well, enough of that. I’ve been reading stories on the internet about why Petlands in Ohio are being shut down. It’s a little disheartening, in case you attempt it, because it’s difficult to know that people behave so badly towards little animals — dogs, cats, rabbits, included.

Thank God they’re closed, and so sad for the little lives placed in their care by Hunte Corporation or other brokers of puppy-mill pets.

The 2-Minute dog trainer, retrieves

November 8, 2009

Bud and I spent 4 hours yesterday morning in the parking lot of a local Tractor Supply store, talking to people about dog training and handing out our brochures.

Things started out slowly. Then, in an effort to get Hazard into the warm sun, I set her sherpa bag on the table and let Hazard curl up with her face to the crowd.

From that moment on we were mobbed by people and kids. Note to self — if you want to draw attention put a dog in a box where people can see her. <g>

We took 3 dogs and all of them had a great time.  Hazard got all sorts of petting and attention. She came out of her sherpa bag for kids and, as soon as they were done with her, whirled around and darted back into her safe zone.

Dash, my 9-year-old aussie, slept for the first hour on the back seat of the Tahoe. Then, when he heard a pack of kids, he hopped out and made the rounds. His next few hours were filled with schmoozing and butt scratches, occasionally returning to the comfy interior of the truck. Dash had some bad experiences with kids in the past, so I’m pleased to see that he’s finally feeling more confident around them. Perhaps it was the knowledge that he could always retreat to the truck that enabled him to be so brave and outgoing.

Kory, Bud’s BC youngster, spent much of his time lying quietly in a crate in the back of the truck. Bud got him out often for some walks and retrieval work, and Kory got his share of attention from the kids.

When we’re working with a young dog I always keep a mental post-it-note of “what is most important for him to learn today.” This is part of the 2-minute dog trainer philosophy, by the way, that each interaction with a dog is a learning experience for that dog as well as for us.

Kory’s most important lesson yesterday, and his biggest success, was to stay in the crate with us nearby and to refrain from tearing up his bedding.

He also got to work on retrieving with Bud though I must say, proudly, that Dash is the retrieving king in our house.

When my first competition dog, Banner (now nearly 14 years old) was beginning her obedience career I was learning about positive reinforcement training methods. She learned to heel using Dawn Jecs “choose to heel” methods, eating treats and working without a choke or prong collar.

My training path separated from the AKC obedience club with which I was training and Banner earned her CD without much assistance or support from our instructors. I was determined to find another way than the one I’d seen at our weekly training sessions.

I taught my old girl, Banner, to retrieve 13 years ago using Sue Sternberg’s Inducive Retrieve method. A friend gave me a little brochure containing Sue’s typed instructions and her hand-drawn illustrations. Sue has since created a new brochure which is much fancier than the original photocopied version, with pictures instead of drawings, available at http://www.greatdogproductions.com/ppp/images/InduciveRetrieve.jpg

During the time I was training Banner to retrieve my club’s training followed one of two paths — the ear pinch or the collar twist. In our open class our instructor began dumbell work with “hold, hold, hold,” fingers clamped over the dog’s mouth.

Having taken ownership of my dog’s training in novice class I felt comfortable taking a separate path in open as well. I read Sue’s brochure and began training in little 5-minute increments at home.

In class, while everyone else was learning how to force the dumbell into their dog’s mouth, Banner and I went into a corner where we worked on the inducive retrieve.

At the end of 8 weeks my classmates were able to have their dog sitting in heel position holding the dumbell, mostly. Banner, on the other hand, could fetch the dumbell and return to front, holding the dumbell, giving it to me.

It was shocking to my instructors. Their response was the same tired response we hear today when we train with rewards instead of punishment, “what do you do if she refuses to pick up the dumbell?”

My response was, “she’s never refused to pick it up!   Why would she?  She is constantly rewarded for returning the dumbell to me, so the toughest part of the exercise is staying by me while the dumbell is tossed.”

At a monthly meeting the club asked for a demonstration of the method and I decided to make it a real test of inducive over forced retrieve. If their real question had to do with my response to a refusal, I needed to demonstrate that a refusal wasn’t likely, and that a refusal was a result of confusion, not willful disobedience, and should be met with encouragement, not force.

At the outdoor picnic meeting I turned a very excited Banner (I was, afterall, holding her dumbell!) away from the group and had a friend hide her dumbell near a member’s feet, under a table. I turned Banner back toward the crowd and told her “take it!”

Banner ran away from me and searched for the dumbell. She didn’t stop for petting, attention, or food. She searched and searched, occasionally looking back to make sure I was still waiting for her. I kept smiling and encouraging her.

After about 90 seconds of searching she dived onto her dumbell and ran as fast as she could back to me. It was the first time I got that thrill of having a demo dog do exactly what was expected. <g>  My first “I told you so” moment.

Jaws dropped. I hadn’t repeated the command, hadn’t restarted my dog, had just given her encouragement and continued smiling at her. Her drive to find the dumbell was created by the rewards I’d been giving her for bringing it back to me.

Bud and Kory have been working on a play retrieve so yesterday, in the tractor supply parking lot, I encouraged Bud to go to the inducive foundation work.

Within 30 minutes Kory was not only chasing the dumbell, but picking it up and returning to Bud with it. I doubt if Bud will ever want an obedience retrieve, he just wants a fetch for agility training, so there was no real need for the front-and-give dumbell work.

But I’m thinking that, with the foundation training being put in place, an obedience retrieve isn’t far off for this youngster, if either of us are so inclined.

Sport Foundation homework, 2-min dog trainer

November 3, 2009

We begin our sport foundation class tonight and I’ve chosen three topics for training and homework:  Heeling (my version of Dawn Jecs “choose to heel” program), stand/stay, and start-line stay.

There will be 2-minute dog training homework handouts for each of these skills by 5pm today.

I’m planning to work Hazard in this sport foundation class, let her be my demo dog and get used to being brave around strange dogs. Everyone should be on-lead, so there’s little danger to Hazard in this 6-7pm class.

Following sport foundation class is our Tuesday league play. I’m encouraging EVERYONE from the sport foundation class to join in league play.

There will be some folks who just stay and watch, I’m sure, as we’ll have a couple of beginner agility dogs in our foundation class.

I put the Tuesday night schedule in place with Hickory and Bud, as well as Hazard and Marsha in mind. It’s SO easy to develop instructor syndrome (the instructor’s dog never gets worked) or private lesson syndrome (the instructor’s dog always works in an empty building with no other dogs to provide stimulation and distraction).

The two syndromes result in a dog who attends their first trial with two strikes against them:  1) they’re under-trained and lack the hundreds of hours of foundation training that leads to a good first experience in the show ring,  and  2) they’re over-stimulated and unused to the carnival atmosphere of the trial site.

Tonight’s class will be an investment in our young dogs’ agility and obedience careers and I hope our students get as much out of it as we will.

League play will be our first C-Wags agility session for 2009. I’ve handed out some dog registration forms but will need a dozen-or-so more forms for new students tonight.

When dogs are registered with C-Wags the organization will begin tracking Qs and titles, and providing certificates for achievement.

We’re charging a whopping $5 per run starting tonight. Part of that fee will be passed on to C-Wags. Students will pay for their scribe sheet, add their dogs’ names and C-Wags numers (or “pending” if applicable), and hand the scribe sheet to the scribe before their run.

This is a new experience for us but I believe these weekly matches will be good practice for me, in preparation for our first actual C-Wags trials in 2010 (dates to be determined).

We’ve been a C-Wags club for a year or so now but haven’t put together a trial committee, established set dates, applied for trial weekends, etc.

Now that C-Wags offers obedience, rally, AND agility, it becomes a weekend certainly worthy of our attention.

Hopefully our students will agree …

In other news, DogSport magazine is featuring lots of coverage of the TDAA Nationals, our 2009 Petit Prix in Racine, WI, in the upcoming issue.

Additionally they’re creating an on-line forum for trainers and instructors (students as well, I’m sure) who are interested in discussing dog training.  The link is: 

http://www.dogsportmagazine.com/?p=658  

I’ll be posting about our sport foundation class, as well as bits of information from our new Thursday night masters classes. An interesting new way of distributing information!