Posts Tagged ‘crate training puppies’

Marsha Houston’s 2-Minute Dog Trainer blog

September 4, 2013

I apologize for going silent the last few weeks and months. Business got in the way of blogging.  My purpose for this blog is to join the agility blogging community and speak to the topic of “aging” …..

First – I’m so excited at the maturity I’m seeing in my youngster (Phoenix NAJ) who turns two years old this December.  Running him has progressed from nerve-wracking and frustrating to magical in one weekend spent training with friends and Bud Houston.  Phoenix’s 2-minute dog training was always steady, but any activity in a group setting met with high stimulation and distraction.  I persevered.  He grew up!

Second – puppy Katniss (at 10-11-months) has been registered as an All American with AKC and is being prepared for a February-March 2014 debut.  I know there’s disagreement amongst agility people as to when we should start competing with our puppies, but I prefer to get them in the ring as soon as possible, let them have a fantastic time, find the holes in my training, and give them some ring experience.  In the meantime, I used my new favorite weavepole training equipment, and Katniss learned how to hit entries and weave 6 poles in three 10-minute sessions.  She doesn’t understand weaves yet, but she will very soon. I’m working at sending-for-independent-performance as well as running-at-side-with-great-excitement.  I want her to be familiar with both situations.

Third – rescue Haymitch (at age 2-3 years) has been getting very little work. He needs another TDAA Intermediate Standard leg to be in Superior Standard and Games 3 for the TDAA Petit Prix and he’ll get it someday.  He joined weekly classes last evening and daily training sessions for Haymitch will begin this week. I hope he’ll do well in October.  I reserve all his training for Teacup (TDAA) agility, and don’t put him on big a-frames and teeters very often.

Fourth – I’m writing a BOOK on the 2-minute dog trainer protocols.  Bud’s going to be my editor. Angie Houston has agreed to be my illustrator. I want this to be a book people read and enjoy re-reading, sharing with their friends, and giving as gifts.  I find dog training to be hugely amusing and humorous, and I want to share my strange sense of fun with others.

Okay – now for my take on “aging” in the world of dog agility …

I don’t want to automatically sound like an old fart but those darned whipper-snapper kids don’t respect us old farts!

Sure, they can out run us. Sure, they have the time and money for classes, workshops, seminars. Sure, they can wake up at 5am on a Saturday and still be energetic for their last event at 5pm.

But can they drink 2 margaritas and still provide experienced, detailed analysis of a student’s novice jumpers run?  Can they?  I think NOT!”

I’m just kidding, of course.  Codgers kid a lot.

I believe that clever agility enthusiasts should seek knowledge from coaches of all ages.  From young coaches with tons of energy, who are developing new protocols for agility dog training, to crusty old coaches who have developed all the training protocols in existence up to this point.

If agility training is a journey I’d suggest youngsters make a point of walking in the footprints of handlers with a few years’ instructing under their belts (or suspenders, knee braces, support stockings). We’ve seen the reactions of hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs to specific handling moves.

After all is said and done it is the reaction of the dog that determines whether the handling skill is a success or failure.  Certain types of dogs will often share a common reaction.  And a crusty old coach will usually be aware of that.

Here’s to the crusty old coaches in the dog training world!

I’ve trained my dogs once today and will have another “contacts” session with supper, as well as a group beginner class for Katniss, so now I can totter off to my favorite recliner and margarita.

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.

2-minute dog trainer – Tempest gets neutered

October 1, 2010

This was the week where all my obedience training paid off. <g>

Tempest got neutered about 10 days ago and was supposed to be kept quiet for 7-10 days.

The first day was no problem. He was sore and drugged with pain meds. He stayed nice and quiet, walked in and out of the house on lead, spent the day in his crate and ex-pen, and mostly slept.

By the 4th day he was dying to chase Bud’s BC, Kory. He skittered down the ramp into the yard instead of walking quietly.

I used as many obedience cues, in as calm a voice, as I could muster. He really is a very good puppy, so I’m lucky with that. The 6-7 days of total confinement (for Tempest AND me <g>) went quickly.

Fortunately I had a long period with no work days, so I got to spend 24/7 with Tempest and keep him from having to endure an elizabethan collar.

After 6 days of total quiet, with 3-4 trips each day to the training building to walk around with my antsy pup, I gave him a little more freedom.

He still wasn’t ready to rip and tear with Kory, but I gave him a 30-minute break in the yard by himself. He seemed to enjoy sniffing the edges, eating grass and sticks, and relaxing in the sun.

While he was recovering from his little surgery we worked on:  1) sitting for exiting crates or pens, exiting the house, entering the training building, etc.,  2) walking on a loose leash,  3) greeting people by sitting, and  4) being attentive.

Now that he’s done with pain meds and being confined, we’re back working on continuing to reinforce his 2-on-2-off contact performance with breakfast and dinner.

I take his food bowl to the part of the basement that holds his contact trainer. I set the bowl 10-11-feet away from the down ramp he’ll be using.

We walk away from his bowl (he usually heels at this point, since he’s not sure if this is a heeling exercise or agility — I LOVE that!).

I tell him “walk up!” and he mounts the contact trainer and drives to the floor, where he rushes into position.

I, on the other hand, do not limit my movement.  I don’t necessarily establish a parallel path but, instead, sometimes head off in a totally different direction while he’s moving down his ramp.

If he makes the mistake of coming off the ramp, I make a big deal of putting the food bowl back down and we repeat the exercise.

If he nails his 2O2O position I walk around, casually pick up the bowl, set it down in front of him and let him eat about half his food.

We repeat this exercise, for a total of two performances, with each meal.

SIDEBAR:  About 2 weeks ago I decided I wanted Tempest to know my contact performance criteria demanded he assume his position in perfect line with the ramp. I want his front feet to stay in line with the bottom of the ramp, and don’t want Tempest hopping off the side of the ramp with his front end. One of the problems with the sideways contact performance is that it complicates the dog’s approach to the next obstacle. If the dog is supposed to turn away, into a tunnel perhaps, they’re facing the wrong direction right from the get-go.

It’s been weeks since Tempest made the mistake of coming off the contact trainer in the basement. It’s been a week since Tempest made the mistake of coming off the dogwalk in the training building.

But he’s still making occasional mistakes when we work on the real agility equipment, so I’ll continue his training in the basement for several months.

2-minute dog trainer, Tempest gets serious

August 2, 2010

With Tempest 4.5 months of age, and with the idea in mind that he may perform novice rally in a couple of months, it’s time for me to start some more serious training — beyond our foundation work, all of which will continue.

I’m going to plan on twice-daily trips to our training building to work on heeling and rally doodles. Since novice is all on lead this should be fun training for a puppy.

I don’t teach a rigid handler posture, or militaristic performance from the dog. My training is all about applying the rules of a dog in motion, and body language from the handler, to rally doodles. So Tempest should find this a fun little dance-with-mommy.

Additionally, I’m going to devote at least 3-4 sessions a week to Bud’s jump (or hoop) training.

I’d like to start with the exploding pinwheel, where puppy learns to own the pinwheel and learns “go on!”  The pinwheel starts out close and tight, with little opportunity for error, and then explodes outward to a full-size pinwheel layout.

After Tempest understands “go on” in the context of the pinwheel, the semi-circle of jumps will begin expanding even more to become 3 jumps in a nearly straight line, and finally a straight line of jumps … from the original 3 to 4, then to 5, then 6, etc.

That’s the plan, anyway.   I want to get Tempest working for toys and tugs as much as possible.

He’s a total chow-hound as opposed to anorexic Kory who lives for toys and tugging.  Bud likes to play little games with Tempest, and this weekend taught him “come by” — driving from a sit-in-front clockwise around Bud to a ball tossed from beside the left knee.

It was clear that the puppy I had working for clicks-and-treats had more drive and speed when a toy was added to the mix. Time to get serious and appreciate the drive Tempest has.

Bud started Kory’s training with NADAC hoops (no jumping), but I want to mix it up a bit with hoops and wing jumps (with bars on the floor — noactual  jumping) in separate working layouts.

Interspersing the jump work with the rally doodles should provide us with a nice mix of puppy play.  One will reward drive and distance and independent work with toys and tugging, the other will reward up close and attentive work with clicks and treats.

This is an experiment and a training laboratory, so my next report may be that toys and tugging have superceded treats for Tempest’s training.

2-minute dog trainer, practical applications for Tempest’s training

July 23, 2010

There are 3-4 special behaviors I’ve been encouraging in Tempest and last night we tested the practical application of this special training.

1)  the sit-and-down-stay … though a four-month-old puppy can’t be expected to stay for very long, I’ve been doing little tiny stays with Tempest at a few of his meals.  I expect a stay while I walk away, a stay while I walk around him, and a stay sitting right in front of me.

Last evening, while the more advanced dogs were working in class on equipment, Tempest and I worked on our pause table stays.  I’m amazed that, at his young age, Tempest is able to stay focused on me, with other dogs running, while I walk away from the pause table and give his release word, then come running to me 10-15 feet away. He was so cute — staring intently at me as if trying to figure out what all this had to do with anything.

2)  the fetch … toy training is going to become a huge part of Tempest’s agility and obedience training. Toys and tugging build confidence, build drive, and are just more powerful for a toy-driven dog than treats. Tempest has begun the initial training on a formal retrieve but, in the meantime, is getting the idea of the play retrieve. “Every time I take it back to Mommy she throws it again — whee !!!”

After class, while I chatted with our instructor, Tracy, Bud was sending Tempest to the tunnel (from 6-8 feet!) and tossing the frisbee for him.  Tempest was happily jumping on the cloth frisbee and “killing it,” but then — every time — would take it back to Bud !!!   At one point Bud got distracted and Tempest stood beside him with the frisbee in his mouth, looking up as if to say, “hey, I’m not done here !!”

3) walking on a loose leash … I began by simply stopping forward movement but, when Tempest figured out how much fun the training building was, he still wanted to rush to get there.  I began a series of left 360-degree turns, turning directly into Tempest if he forged ahead of me.

Last evening, on his walk to the building and anytime I walked him from one spot to another in the building, Tempest offered me loose-leash walking.  Quite a bit of self-control for a baby, I think.

4) we have mulch and wood chips in our dog yard, so I’ve been teaching Tempest “leave it” to drop stuff out of his mouth.

This morning, as we were returning to the house from breakfast, Tempest picked up a piece of wood.  I said, “T – leave it,” and he spit it out !!  Amazing.  What a good boy.

In the meantime, Tempest no longer gets his puppy lunch but instead gets just 2 meals a day of adult food.  He’s growing slowly, getting some of his adult coat (looks a little scraggly right now), and still needs to grow into his EARS and FEET.

He’s a loving little boy who happily follows me around, sleeps next to wherever I sit, and comes when called.  I’m so happy with him, and so completely satisfied with his ability to learn our little lessons and remember them.

2-Minute Dog Trainer, Tempest @ 15 wks

July 12, 2010

Learning is stepping up now that Tempest is fairly solid on the basics:

1) coming when called

2) responding to his name with eye contact

3) walking on a loose leash

4) pottying on cue and outside

5) greeting people by sitting

6) sitting to ask permission to exit crates and pens

7) allowing handling of ears, paws, eyes, teeth, etc., plus bathing and toenail trimming

eight) greeting other dogs with a non-challenging glance, and leaving them alone unless given permission to do a more detailed greeting

My early efforts were all focused on getting these behaviors solidified, while introducing some more advanced obedience and agility concepts, including:

1) 2-on-2-off contact performance, which Tempest has generalized to footstools and milk crates as well as contact trainers.

2) heeling, with just a couple of sessions because I don’t want to stress his body with a bunch of “heads up” heeling

3) fronts, mostly while I eat my cereal, with Tempest in a nice tucked sit with his head nestled in my legs

4) self-control, doing a “lie down” and breaking off from his whip toy, then getting to play some more (aka “drop on recall)

5) a play retrieve, learning that everytime he brings the toy back to me it will be tossed again

6) a formal retrieve, using Sue Sternberg’s inducive retrieve

This past weekend Tempest had his first trial weekend.  He traveled with Dash and I to Dayton for a 3-day obedience and rally event (Fri Rally only, Sat Obed and Rally, Sun Obed only). We stayed in a terrific Red Roof Inn just south of Dayton, with a quiet parking lot, restaurants in walking distance, and plenty of grass.

Several of Tempest’s learned behaviors made the weekend more pleasant, and I’m always surprised that people don’t take the time to teach these easy tricks.

First, Tempest learned from day one that first thing in the morning we pee and then we immediately poop before going back inside for something to eat.

This little trick makes life incredibly easier on his person, who has more than enough chores to do between waking and taking off for the trial site. The training for it involves little more than patience when the puppy is really young — having a set phrase you use consistently, and patiently waiting for the littlest of puppies to perform their duties before running happily back to the room for breakfast.

Wow, how great was it to be able to finish this chore in just a few minutes.  We then were able to return to the room, feed the dogs, go get coffee, and start our personal preparations.

Second, Tempest is learning to jump up into his crate in the truck. At his size he can’t quite make it all the way, but I want him to have a response when I open the crate door and tap on the bumper.

Learning to jump into the crate enables the dog to pick his own footsteps into the crate, to enjoy the very first step of traveling with mom, and takes a lot of heavy lifting off my back.

With the right bumper configuration (on my Tahoe I have 2 levels of bumper and a third level into the crating area) even little Hazard (our 10″ sheltie) can jump up and get into a crate without being man-handled.

Third, and on the same lines, Tempest is learning all about jumping.  He learned to jump onto the bed at home using the ottoman as an intermediate level, but the motel beds were at a convenient height for him to learn the power of his rear legs for lifting. Within a few seconds of his initial attempt to hop onto the bed, Tempest gave a bit more effort and was rewarded with petting and attention.

In addition to jumping up onto the bed, of course, Tempest began his formal broad jump work by jumping from bed-to-bed. I imagine this is incredibly common amongst dog-owners who stay in motel rooms with 2 beds. <g>

Fourth, I want Tempest to have a focused response to my movement. His job is to assume a path parallel to me.  I will not accept biting, nipping, diving in towards my legs, or barking. I do not want Tempest to move into inappropriate herding behavior, just because he sees movement.

I created a protocol in 1999 to teach Banner how to do agility without barking or biting.  I called it “My Dog Bites Me,” and it’s been incredibly useful to  a) help people see that biting is BAD in dog agility (the hardest part of the training), and  2) help the dog see that agility continues if they’re silent and moving parallel, and that agility stops if they’re barking, biting, or diving in towards their handler.

The key to this training is a timely and consistent response to the behaviors we wish to extinquish — all attention is removed from the dog, handler stops moving, turns back on dog, walks placidly to the beginning of the sequence.

Another important element of this trainin is to incrementally build from one obstacle done silently, to two obstacles done silently, then three – four – five – etc.

The most common mistakes include:

A) Allowing even a small nip, whine, yip — all precursers of bites, barks, and screaming.  If we allow the precurser we create confusion in the mind of the dog. The early stages of negative behavior are allowed while the latter stages are not allowed?  That’s way too complex for people, let alone dogs.  I want my dog to know I expect SILENCE and FOCUS ON THE WORK.

B) Building sequences that are too long too fast and too early in the dog’s training. If a puppy isn’t showing signs of nipping, barking, biting, etc., then sequencing takes a normal path. For the biter or barker, however, we have to place tons of little rewards and positive responses to silence and focus.

Instead of building from one obstacle to 5 obstacles in six tries, it may take 20 tries. It may take 30 tries. The more Tempest gets to do one or two obstacles, with a treat or a toy as a reward for silent focus, the better his foundation will be in this behavior.

If the handler moves too quickly to 5 or 6 obstacles, and the puppy gets over-stimulated, the more likely the negative behavior will emerge.

In other news, Dash earned his first two RAE double Qs (he needs eight more for his RAE)  AND  he earned his last Novice B obedience leg to earn his CD in an incredibly stressed performance yesterday.

On Saturday Dash was in the ring for his Excellent B rally performance. While he was working folks were tearing down their metal crates, folding chairs, and generally spooking him. (Dash’s early training with his moronic first owner made him sensitive to any sudden noise.)

As Dash was setting up for his honor performance the trial secretary turned on the PA system, causing a loud cracking noise, making everyone in the room jump and yelp, and spooking the crap out of Dash.

Then the nice leash runner attempted to place the next dog’s leash on the ring gating near the honor position and tripped, falling foward and nearly knocking the ring gating over into Dash and I.

Lastly, and perhaps most unfortunately, the dog we were honoring was large, slow, and — instead of taking a normal 1.5 to 1.75 minutes — must have run 2.5 to 3 minutes.

It was all too much for Dash and he stood up about 2 minutes into his honor sit, losing 20 points or so for that.

His stress from Saturday’s disaster carried over to Sunday morning in the same ring. His last novice B obedience leg was probably a gift, though he did manage to do his sits and downs even though the dog next to him jumped up and ran directly in front of Dash to head towards a back door in the building.

I’m thankful to be done with Novice, with all that on-lead heeling, and have moved him to Open A for our trial at the end of July. Less heeling (which Dash hates and where all his stress shows up) and more fun stuff, like retrieves, drop on recall, and jumping !!!   YAY !!!   Our big challenge will be the out-of-sight sits …

In the meantime, he’s now   ARCH Slydrock’s Dash For Cash CD RE AX AXJ … and my best prospect for a CDX.

2-Minute Dog Trainer, Tempest week 7

June 28, 2010

I got Tempest at 8 weeks and 2 days of age. I’ve had him 7 weeks. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long — time truly DOES fly when you’re having fun.

I sometimes watch the video of my evaluation process with Tempest’s litter, and I was wearing a sweatshirt and winter pants. Yesterday our thermometer read 102-degrees though certainly some of that heat was bouncing off the deck surface. I broke out in a full-body-sweat just walking to the training building.

Tempest has changed from a little guy I could easily sweep up in my arms to a gangly boy. I now have to support multiple points on his body or they’ll flop and slither out of control.

With 2 meals a day we do contact training. My criteria continues to tighten and I’m working now to get Tempest to understand that the 2-on-2-off contact performance should be in a perfect line with the ramp, rather than off to whichever side I’m standing on. He’s starting to pick up on the fine points of my training.

I continue to insist on the following behaviors, and reward for them with praise, freedom, and the occasional handful of kibble:

1.  “T-come!” whether in the house or the yard, whether playing or training.  He must come when called, every time, and I have zero tolerance for ignoring my call. He can  a) come when he’s called and get an occasional reward and constant praise, or  b) NOT come when called, be hunted down (“like a dog”), picked up, carried back to the house, and placed gently in his pen.  Note I hunt him down, I don’t chase him.  I walk behind him, not looking directly at him, while he glances at me over his shoulder and walks away. Eventually he stops moving when he realizes the futility of trying to get away. There’s no punishment or shouting or berating happening.  “Resistance is futile.”

2. Going into his crate or ex-pen. There’s never any punishment associated with his crate, and he actually likes both his crate for sleeping at night, and his “play-pen” full of toys for resting during the day.  Last night he started out trying to sleep on the bed, got restless, hopped off the bed and circled his crate, finally lying down next to his crate, leaning on the wire. I got out of bed, opened the crate door, he entered, sighed, and went fast asleep immediately.

3. Walking on a loose leash. I introduced this by simply stopping forward movement whenever Tempest pulled forward, going to and from the training building, or into and out of the YMCA, etc. We battled a bit during weeks 3 and 4, when Tempest realized what fun awaited him when walking on leash. In week 5 I changed to a series of left spirals, stepping directly into Tempest’s path if he forged forward, making him turn 360-degrees to the left, then resuming our forward movement. The first trip to the building took about 5 minutes (for 100 feet <g>), so it was slow going at first but he’s getting a lot better with this whole concept. After years of teaching obedience classes, I sure won’t ever let him drag me forward.  No way, no how, under no circumstances.  I’m not going to pop and jerk him, but I’m going to be his strong leader.

4. Accepting grooming processes, including calmly allowing toenail trimming, standing still for a bath, being examined all over, etc.  I swore that if I ever had another puppy and the set-up for easily bathing him, my puppy would get regular baths to help him accept all sorts of grooming activity. Tempest has had 4 baths in 7 weeks and is actually quite calm for this procedure. Toenails require calm stroking and vocalizations, but are easily achieved by one person. Our vet trims toenails each visit as well, so Tempest is learning this is just part of life.

5. Being calm in the house, including the avoidance of “spoiled brat syndrome.”  When Tempest fusses in his pen or crate, I casually get up and remove myself from his sight. Fussing equals Mom leaving. When my sister was considering buying Tempest’s littermate, we spent an hour discussing crate training, house training, really basic stuff. I told her, “if he fusses in his crate you just leave the room — like a baby in his crib, you never pay attention to or give freedom to a puppy that’s barking or fussing.”  She grinned and said, “you’re not supposed to pick up babies when they fuss in their crib?” ….. “That explains a lot about your kids,” I said, laughing.

6. Sitting to ask permission to greet people, to ask permission to exit a crate or pen, to ask permission to go through a door, etc.  “Sit” means “Mother, may I?”  In the past couple of weeks I’ve added a couple seconds of steady eye contact along with the sit.  Tempest is getting really engaged in the game, offering all sorts of sits, downs, eye contact, etc., when he wants something.

In addition to these basic pet behaviors, Tempest has been introduced to heeling, to positions (sit/stand/down), and to agility equipment and concepts, including the wobble board, the training teeter, the full-size teeter, standard jumps, wing jumps (bars on the floor), 2 pause tables, several tunnels, training dog walk, and training a-frame, parallel movement, front crosses, and tandem turns. The only thing he hasn’t engaged yet is the tire and weavepoles, and I’m certain he’ll get to see some this Sunday in his beginner agility class. I’m excited when, instead of teaching, I get to actually take a class with my dog. Tempest and I get to attend our first agility class this Sunday and I intend to maximize my use of the 2 hours.

On July 13 Tempest will be 4 months old and, on September 20-ish, he’ll be entered in his first novice Rally trial. I’ve always thought it was weird that people put their puppies in obedience trials, actually putting CDs on 6-9-month old puppies. In my experience, these 9-month-old geniuses can turn into stressed underachievers.  My goal for Tempest is that he think the inside of a ring is exciting and fun, and that he be able to maintain focus for the 1-2 minutes necessary to get into and out of a novice rally course. No stress, all fun, just a little dance with Mom!

2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 5

June 14, 2010

During mealtimes Tempest and I are working on contact performance (see “Contacts” below) and stays (see “Stays” below).

Additionally, we continue to reinforce the following rules — no attention without a sit first, no exiting the crate or ex-pen without a sit first, no exiting the crate or ex-pen if puppy is barking or fussing or whining.

And I continue to reward and reinforce the following behaviors — entering the crate or ex-pen willingly, coming when called, respectful attitude at mealtimes (Tempest eats last and waits for HIS bowl to be put down).

I’m finding that my initial evaluation of “puppy-Rex” holds true with 13-week-old puppy-Tempest.  He’s level-headed, biddable, willing to trust me and take chances, bold, and brave.

The only thing that’s made him cry, so far, other than an occasional nip the first week from unfriendly old dogs, is the darned mulch that sticks to his butt when he lies down in some parts of the dog yard. When that happens he whimpers, tries to outrun it, and comes to Mom so she can “get that stick off my butt.” <g>

Tempest had his first dog show trip last weekend. He accompanied Dash and me to an obedience trial in Canton, Ohio.

I was proud of his patience, hanging out in his crate in my truck for a couple of hours at a time. He alo got to walk around the fairgrounds each day, as we continued on our quest for “100 new people in the first 100 days.”

I explained this plan to some folks Tempest wanted to meet and they said, “what numbers are we?”  I said, “I think you must be 45-46-47-and 48.” They laughed and fussed over the puppy. He’d been sitting, waiting to meet his new friends.

CONTACTS:  Bud built me a contact trainer using our old teeter base, an old cross-over ramp with large slats but no contact paint, and a board with no slats but a traction surface.

Tempest’s introduction to contacts included some prompted shaping, using his breakfast and dinner to draw him into the 2-on-2-off position.

On the third training session I placed his food bowl at the base of the cross-over ramp, placed Tempest about 12 inches up the ramp, settled him onto the ramp, and steadied him as he rushed down the ramp for his meal.

As he reached the bowl he naturally settled his front feet on either side of it, his rear feet on the ramp.  On 2 or 3 occasions as he was eating and I lifted him away, placed him on the ramp, and steadied him as he returned to his meal.

He’s a forgiving boy, so he never seems to resent my manipulating him during his meal. Boy, is he eager to return to the bowl, from 12″ up the ramp, from 18″ up the ramp, from 24″ up the ramp, and from 30″ up the ramp. He’s getting really intense and coordinated in his rush back to the bowl.

STAYS:  One of our favorite exercises for puppies is to set their food bowl on a chair or table, set the puppy up facing the food bowl, and have the puppy stay while you reach into the bowl and deliver the food to the pup.

If the puppy’s butt stays in a sit, the food keeps coming.  If I’m working on a down-stay and the puppy stays in a down, the food keeps coming.

If the puppy gets up and approaches the bowl I make a big deal of returning the food to the bowl, returning the pup to their stay position, and then getting the food flowing again.

Tempest had his first experience this morning with lying down during the sit-stay exercise. I made a huge deal of putting the food back and then putting Tempest back into his nice, tucked sit. After a few trips to the food bowl (which was just a few feet away), I requested a “down,” which Tempest performed on my verbal cue, and the food started flowing again.

Good thing this boy loves food !!

This past weekend my old boy, Dash, Q’d 4-out-of-4 at an obedience trial. Tempest says “I cute both days too!”

2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 4

June 5, 2010

Tempest is 12 weeks old today. When do we stop counting weeks and start counting months?

There are some behaviors which are becoming standard for Tempest, including: 1) sitting in order to exit a crate or pen, 2) sitting for attention IF people will allow it (it’s harder to train people than it is to train puppies), 3) coming when called (I use “T-come!” for his formal recall practice, and “Let’s Go!” as a general yard recall), 4) being quiet in his crate.

I started putting Tempest on the baby teeter a week ago. He was a little fearful, though he enjoyed the string cheese.

When he showed concern about the heavy, wide teeter I introduced him to my footstool, leaving it in his ex-pen. He had no problems with the wobbly footstool, and quickly fell asleep with his head resting on it. (When you’re afraid of something, dominate it by sleeping on it.)

I left the footstool in Tempest’s ex-pen for a week, allowing him to interact with it freely. After a week I went into the pen with Tempest and the footstool, my clicker, and his lunch.

I lured him straight across the footstool, he hopped up and over willingly, got his click-and-food.

I repeated this a couple of times, never asking for more than bravery in his interaction with the footstool.

A couple of days ago I returned, with Tempest, to the training teeter in the agility building. All indications of concern had disappeared.

Tempest boldly walked across the teeter, chasing the cheese, bracing himself for the drop, riding it down, and chasing the cheese.  My click was timed to mark Tempest’s footstep which caused the drop.

Over and over, Tempest drove toward that footstep, pushed the board down, got his click and cheese.

After he was performing the behavior boldly and consistently, I started calling it “teeter!” He got very excited and sped up his performances, back and forth, back and forth.

His increased excitement puzzled me until I had a brainstorm — the word teeter sounds enough like T to make him think I’m saying his name. I’ve been conditioning an excited response to his name, so it makes sense that he’d transfer that excitement to the word “teeter!”

I’ve been considering using “T” as my dog’s cue for conditioned behaviors. For example, with Dash, as we’re running an agility course, I’ll often just indicate the obstacle and say “Dash!”  His response is to perform as he’s been conditioned to do, with his name indicating “pay attention to this obstacle.”

Hmmmmm …. food for thought.

In the meantime, Tempest has doubled in size. At his vet visit on June 1 he weighed 17 pounds. He’s going to be  more stocky than Kory, though they share their sire’s DNA. Kory is built like Keen, the sire. Tempest seems to have picked up more of his dam’s physical characteristics and will probably be shorter and stockier than Kory.

Both Tempest’s sire and dam have prick ears. Tempest’s ears are currently in a perfect half-fold. There’s a possibility he’s a throw-back to his grandsire, “The Fireman,” who was a black tri with really strong brown markings and folded ears.

I’m encouraging the folded ears by occasionally flipping his ears back, creating a crease in the cartilage. This is the method I used with Banner’s ears — she had a nice half-fold ear, and a rose ear — by folding the rose ear backwards the crease developed over time. By the time she was 9 months old she had two nicely folded ears.

But I’m not overly concerned about how Tempest’s ears turn out. I’m not going to be doing the chewing-gum or glue business to force the ear into a particular set. This should be interesting to watch …

In four weeks Tempest has had just one accident in the house. I paid too little attention, and left him loose in the house for 2 minutes too long. He walked to a dog-bed and started to squat. I caught him mid-stream and took him outside to finish.

Before that incident, and since that incident, no other accidents. I’m being pretty watchful, especially if the doors are shut and Tempest is trapped inside the house, but he appears to be choosing to potty outside. He’s also vocalizing to let me know he needs to go outside, or get a drink of water, or get a meal, etc.

2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 3

May 31, 2010

With patience and consistency Tempest is starting to dedicate himself to me. He finds me fascinating.

This week we continued to wait for Tempest to SIT before letting him out of a crate or ex-pen or door. He’s caught on to this game quickly and, within a 5-second period of time, will offer a sit / down / sit / fidget / down / sit / fidget / rearrange the sit / stare at my face / look at my hand / down / sit / fidget / etc.

You get the picture. I want him to settle a bit, so I’m looking for a 1-2 second pause in the action, in a nice tucked sit, before opening the gate.

An important note to anyone practicing this type of training — unhook all the crate / pen latches while holding the door shut with your hand. Get the behavior and immediately open the door. That’s the only way the door can open quickly enough when puppy has achieved his performance objectives.

If you have to unlatch the door after he achieves his 1-2-second sit, you make him wait and the reward comes too late.

I’m also continuing with the “meet 100 people in 100 days.” He’s met men and women of all ages and sizes, as well as children and teens. He’s been very eager and appropriate with everyone, though he tends to sit for strangers rolled onto one hip with his belly exposed — a bit of grovelling mixed in with his greeting.

Here at home we don’t encourage grovelling, either for people or other dogs. Kory grovelled for all our dogs and we limited his access to them due to this behavior. Tempest doesn’t grovel for dogs at all, normally. Just people.

We’re continuing with the loose-leash walking as well, and Tempest got to visit 4 cemetaries with us yesterday. In and out of the car, walking around the cemetary, experiencing new stuff, all great for a puppy.

Today Tempest had his first bath. He fidgetted a bit at first but, when rewarded with a bit of food from his bowl, he calmed down and stood patiently.