Archive for April, 2012

2-minute dog trainer – months 5 to 9

April 10, 2012

Don’t worry — I’m not going to leave you hangin’ for 4 months. I just want to comment on the fact that no two puppies develop or train the same.

When Tempest was 4-or-5 months old, I took a job at a local hospital. It was entry level grunt work, but it supplied Bud and I with health insurance, plus a small paycheck.

I hated the job. I came home exhausted 4 or 5 nights a week, after an 11-to-7:30pm shift. I was generally irritated with the mean girls and dopey managers with whom I worked, and would cry about the rudeness I was forced to endure each work day. It was awful and no one deserves that life for $12,000 a year plus health insurance.

When I started the job Tempest was about 5 months old, and when I quit the job he was 9 months old. Tempest’s training was put on hold from mid-August to nearly Christmas 2010.

After quitting my horrible job, Bud and I took leadership positions with TDAA, Bud had an automobile accident in Indiana, and our lives were in turmoil. Tempest’s training slowed for the winter, and we didn’t really start sequencing until he was about 11 months old.

At 12 months he started learning how to weave, and began an intermediate agility class at a local club.

I don’t think we ever made up for those lost months. Before he got sick (Dec.2011) my plan was to spend the winter doing the training we had missed Fall-Winter 2010.

So, in other words, I was continuing with the 2-minute dog training protocols, and Tempest’s individual obstacle performance was great, but his introduction to sequencing and following handler direction cues was LATE and INADEQUATE.

I’m hoping to redeem myself with Phoenix.

My work life is different now. My work day revolves around my laptop and I spend a great deal of time in my office. I do all the paperwork for TDAA, as well as the class and camp rosters.

At 4 months of age, Phoenix is enjoying obstacle training for 3 meals a day (will be transitioning to 2 meals a day in about 2 weeks).

Once a day, for about 15 minutes, Phoenix and I go to the building where we do simple sequencing with his tug toy as a reward.

My first goal with each session is to make sure he’s conditioned with each of the obstacles I plan to use in my mini-sequence.

When he’s confidently performing each of the obstacles in the sequence I start putting together 2-and-3-obstacle bits.

When he’s putting the sequences together, I practice the longer mini-sequence (5-6 obstacles).

Last week’s mini-sequence was teeter-tunnel-teeter, with a front cross between the tunnel and the second performance of the training teeter.

Today’s mini sequence was tunnel-under-the-aframe, across an 8″ jump, into another tunnel, front cross, turn-back into the same tunnel, and through the tire.

The sequence isn’t important. What is important is that he learn to look at me for his directional cues.

I’m pleased with Phoenix’s drive to run with me, with his interest in focusing on obstacles as we run, and his quiet, calm working style.

By conditioning individual obstacle, then conditioning tiny 2-3-obstacle sequences, then performing longer sequences, I hope to build in him an understanding that agility is fun. But that the fun of agility is following Mom and doing what she says to do.

Mealtime training this week (15 weeks of age) includes: 1) breakfast = contact trainer, 2) lunch, pause table on the ottoman with an automatic down, working on STAY as I walk around the living room, occasionally disappearing from sight, 3) dinner, contact trainer or hoops / jumps in the back yard.

We do contact training with breakfast x 7 days a week.
We do pause table training with lunch x 7 days a week.
We do contact training with dinner x 3 days a week.
We do jump training with dinner x 4 days a week.

Therefore, we do 21 training sessions on obstacle performance each week.

If I add one 15-minute sequencing session 5 days a week, I’m totaling over 125 minutes of training each week with my puppy.

All without stressing his body, overworking his little brain, or interrupting my life overmuch.

That’s what the 2-minute dog training protocols are all about. They’re designed to fit training into every day with your dog, and into every interaction with your dog.

Advertisements

2-minute dog trainer – Phoenix at 14-16 weeks

April 2, 2012

Because Phoenix is a rescued pup we’re not sure of his birthdate. The rescue group, on Feb. 20, guessed he was born 12/20/11, and was 8 weeks old.  I thought he had to be older than that (who ditches an 8-week-old puppy in rescue?!?).

So now, the first week of April, he’s either 14 weeks old, or a little older. I’m waiting for his teeth to start falling out at that 16-week mark to have a better idea of how old he is.

I’m going to establish a birthdate of 12/15/11, making him 16 weeks old this week. We’ll see what happens with his teeth.

Regardless of the precise age of this pup, he’s learning rapidly and is a joy to train.

First, the resource guarding is a constant training opportunity for us.

Instead of a little growl when I touch his bowl, I get a happy face and a wagging tail. I always hold the bowl and stroke Phoenix’s back, and the tail continues to wag.

If I touch his face with my free hand, the tail stops wagging, but he doesn’t freeze up anymore. This is going to be a long-term training objective, and we can’t ever forget that he doesn’t like having his food bowl approached.

He has half-a-dozen behaviors which he offers in sequence when I pick up his food bowl.

He loves to offer:  sit, down, 2-o-2-o contacts, front, heel, table, and go-to-bed (get in crate and lie down).

For breakfast we work on contacts. I’m allowing him to climb the ramp now, so 2-on-2-off is done in motion, at some speed.

For lunch we work on pause table (on the living room ottoman) and go-to-bed (with his crate).

We’ve added a new exercise for dinner. I’ve set up 3 hoops (ala NADAC) in the yard and am teaching “go on” as a cue to keep engaging the hoops.

If the sequence of 3 hoops is 1-2-3, I start with #3, “YAY” and reward, then #2-3, “YAY” and reward, then #1-2-3, “YAY” and reward.

We reverse direction and repeat the exercise. I can generally get three of four of these sequences in for a single bowl of food.