Archive for March, 2012

2-minute dog trainer – reliable recall

March 19, 2012

Yesterday I was letting dogs out of the house for the really-short walk to the training building. We walk this off lead because everyone simply wants to run to the training building.

Unfortunately, Bud was returning home from the hardware store (working on his chicken coop — see his blog for more info on that <www.budhouston.wordpress.com) and pulled into the driveway the second I let dogs out.

Hazard and Dash returned to my side when I called them, and Kory was on lead (due to his door-dashing issues), but Phoenix floated around the driveway for a minute or two while I called him and he ignored me, or dodged away from me.

Well — that won’t do, now will it ?!?!?

So Phoenix’s mealtime training has gone to module one of my basic obedience lessons — attention to name and recall.

With every meal I walk around, allowing him to forge ahead of me, “Phoenix come!” and food for sitting in a front position and allowing me to grab his collar.

We’ll work on that for another week or so … he’s really clever so I don’t foresee it taking very long.

His agility training is going really well. He’s absorbing the 2-o-2-o training as only a puppy can. He’s showing lots of good control over his rear-end. He runs to the contact trainer when food is available.

Lots of fun!

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2-minute dog trainer – Phoenix’s training week2

March 16, 2012

Phoenix has been with us for 3 weeks.

His breakfast training has focused on minimizing his resource-guarding tendencies. There’s always a hand in his bowl and sometimes the hand takes the bowl away.

He has discontinued the practice of growling when the hand comes in, choosing to wag his tail instead. Just a couple of days ago I set his bowl down, stepped away from it, then stepped back in. He looked up, wagged his tail, and backed away from his bowl. That really pleased me.

On the other hand, when the other dogs approach his bowl they still get a little growl, and they’re very accepting of it. Dogs see this as a natural behavior for a hungry puppy, I guess. (If anyone out there can tell me they definitively know what dogs are thinking please let me know.)

Phoenix’s breakfast training takes place at the dog-feeding station in the basement. In addition to working on resource guarding he’s being trained to assume a 2-on-2-off position on the contact trainer.

When we first started we went to the wider, steeper a-frame end. He was drawn into position and fed from hand.

Now, after just one week on this training, Phoenix heads to his contact trainer the second I pick up his food bowl.

He runs to the trainer and assumes his 2020 position on either the a-frame end or the skinnier dog-walk end. We’re surprised at his ability to control his back legs. For an 11-week-old pup he seems very aware of his rear end.

He’ll often hit the position a couple of times while I’m walking behind him. Occasionally he’ll be standing, watching me, and move just his rear feet into position. I find that very surprising.

Phoenix’s lunchtime training takes place in my office, in the training building, in the vet’s office, or on the road.

For example, yesterday Phoenix’s vet appointment was scheduled for 11:30am. I put his lunch and my clicker in my purse. He was rewarded for:

1) getting into his crate (x 2)
2) walking into the examination room (x 1)
3) being on the exam table, first lying down, then rolling onto one hip (relaxing), then sitting, then standing, then lying down and relaxing, etc.
4) getting back into his crate (x 1)
5) getting back into his crate after a quick walk around the nursery where I was shopping for a tree to honor Tempest (looking for an Austrian Pine) — got to finish his lunch in his crate.

Sometimes we do hand-targeting for click/food. Sometimes we walk to the training building, getting clicked/fed for loose-leash walking.

Phoenix’s dinnertime training involves more resource-guarding training, and more contact training. His little body mustn’t be stressed, so we don’t do any work with jumps, or fetching, or anything that might overwork him.

Sometimes late in the evening Phoenix gets a little snack of kibble, especially if he’s played with Kory for a couple of hours after dinner. He gets a little hungry, and will come tell me — sitting, staring at my face, jumping on my legs.

Feeding him a little snack before bedtime means I can hold off on breakfast for an hour or so after waking.

Next week I’m going to bring some hoops into the yard and get started with sending him through the hoop.

2 minute dog trainer – intro of Phoenix

March 8, 2012

My sweet Tempest has been gone 3-1/2 weeks.

Our new pup, Phoenix, has been with us 2 weeks.

When Tempest passed I decided to bequeath his place in our home to a rescued dog, perhaps one who had never experienced the level of comfort and love we can provide.

I checked Petfinder.com on a daily basis. There were a bunch of border collie mixes in local shelters but no little faces called out to me. I put an application in with a local border collie rescue and began the extensive approval process.

On Tuesday, February 21st, with my application slogging toward approval by  border collie rescue, I went back to Petfinder.com.

Much to my surprise this little red-tri border collie face gleamed at me from my computer screen.  He was a couple of hours away, and (at 8 weeks of age) probably already adopted, but I decided to contact the rescue group and express my interest.

Long story short — the rescue group was marvelous to work with and several friends worked as go-betweens to make this little boy available for adoption to Bud and I.

I saw the picture at 10a.m., contacted the rescue group at 10:30am, had an e-mail application completed by 2pm, had a phone call at 3pm, had my application reviewed by 5pm, and had a call at 6pm saying “when would you like to come get this little boy?”

I’m just saying ….. I understand the reluctance of rescue groups to place dogs without complete home checks and calls to references and vets. On the other hand, isn’t it better for a foster home to provide for the veterinary care, feed, housing, training, and relationship-building for 1-7 days instead of 10-12 months?

I’m certainly not criticizing rescue groups, but sometimes dogs are left too long in foster homes and released too slowly to forever homes.  I know they’re well-fed, cared for, but they’re always “the foster dog.”

Anyway — we met the wonderfully nice foster mom who was so very impressed with my 8-week-old border collie puppy and brought Phoenix home on February 22nd.

I have doubts about his official story, but a young family supposedly turned him in to rescue at 8 weeks. Hmmm. Has nice bite inhibition, is very sociable, is bold and brave, has a little resource-guarding issue, but hard to believe a young family would purchase and ditch a puppy in a week.

Doesn’t matter — he’s mine now and his past is of no consequence.

I’m starting back into my 2-minute dog trainer protocols.

For the first few days Phoenix was with us we focused on the mealtime resource guarding.

Each meal Phoenix was presented with an empty food bowl. Human hands brought food to the bowl versus Phoenix’s greatest concern — human hands dragging him away from the bowl or taking the bowl away from him.

When we said his name and he glanced up he was rewarded with another handful of food. “Come” became part of the picture, and my little boy was on his way to becoming a trained dog.

We had one little bump in the road — Phoenix turned his nose up at dinner on February 26th and 27th, so he went to my vet’s office early on the 27th. He tested  positive for parvo.

The vet’s office kept him on the 27th, giving him fluids and antibiotics through an IV. By noon they were suggesting I should be prepared to get him at 6pm. “He’s pretty full of himself,” my vet said, “he’s chewed through his IV tube twice so we’re giving him fluids and antibiotics sub-cutaneous.”

She explained that, if I could get him to eat, he could begin getting meds orally and stay home for his long-term care.

I picked up a happy pup at 6pm. He was very hungry and ate little spoons full of canned dog food each hour.

Next morning Phoenix returned to the vet for more fluids and meds, but was cleared to come home by noon. Each day in the past 10 days he’s shown good appetite, kept his food and meds down, and gotten more energetic.

Over the next few months I’ll be documenting his progress with the 2-minute dog trainer training.

This, his second full week with us, Phoenix is eating breakfast starting with an empty bowl and accepting hands coming towards his bowl with more food.

For lunch he’s doing some targeting of my open palm, touching either of my outstretched hands for a click and food.

For dinner he often gets to train with Bud on the a-frame contact trainer. After just 3-4 sessions he’s already got the idea that sitting on the a-frame with his front feet on the floor makes the food keep coming.

I think about Tempest all the time. His ashes have been brought home. I know he wasn’t perfect, and his extreme epilepsy was devastating to all of us, but he was the ultimate clean slate on which I wrote my dog-training hopes and dreams.

The slate has been wiped clean again. Our work has evaporated into thin air, but we have a plan with which to start again.