Posts Tagged ‘crate training puppies’

2-Minute dog trainer, Tempest week 2

May 27, 2010

For the past week we’ve been continuing a few protocols from week 1, specifically:

A. Tempest automatically sits to exit his pen or crate. I’m now asking for eye contact for a second before opening the gate. If I wait longer than a second he offers a down, thinking perhaps he’s misunderstood the exercise.

B. Pottying every time he exits the house. As a friend wrote about her new puppy, “they sure PEE a lot!”  So far, no accidents in the house and he gets anxious when he needs to pee, so I’m learning to recognize the urgency in his voice.

C. Once a day we get his meal, my clicker, and work on attention and name. I’ve added the recall to this exercise by taking a single piece of kibble, tossing it away saying “find it!”, then calling “T, come!”, clicking and feeding for a nice recall.

D. Going to the agility building once a day for experience on the big-dog toys. I’ve been encouraging Tempest to get onto the pause table but, at 12″, it’s a tough climb for him. The string cheese won out, though, and yesterday he discovered his rear legs were capable of propelling him onto the surface of the table. Now he approaches the table and hops on.

I’ve discovered that my advice to others holds true for my puppy as well — if you want to wear out the puppy, exercise his brain. The training sessions are kept brief, just 2-3 minutes, and there are no repetitive motion elements. He is, afterall, just a baby at 10-1/2 weeks.

We had a breakthrough today on the recall.

First, let me confess to being a control freak with the dogs.  I establish and stick to routines, they don’t have to wonder what is expected of them, and they’re not free to just do “whatever” unless that is safe play.

The first two weeks Tempest was with us he progressed from being a clingy baby to being more independent. Now he likes to be out in the yard playing with Kory. He doesn’t care for coming in at this time.

I started calling him in a playful tone, and that worked at first. I continued the once-a-day training with attention and name, adding the recall to the exercise.

Still, his desire to be free outside trumped his desire to respond to my recall. On a few occasions I called, he turned away and ran from me, I followed until he gave up on his escape plan. It was comical but I’ve learned not to laugh out loud at such antics. But that cute butt trotting away from me, those big ole ears glued to the side of his head, listening as he tried to escape, all was just too funny for words.

I put a bowl of puppy chow at the door and rattled it while calling. The lure of food drew him into the house.

I knew I needed to switch from lure to reward. But the recall had to happen before I could reward it.

Tonight we had a breakthrough. Without holding and shaking the food bowl, and with Tempest standing on the deck and looking toward the yard longingly, I said, “T come!”

I could see the wheels turning. He looked at me, looked at the yard, looked back at me. He shifted his weight my direction and I said “Yes! What a good boy!” And he trotted into the house.

I was so proud of him.

2-minute dog trainer, Tempest week 1

May 19, 2010

My puppy has arrived. I realize puppies are a crap-shoot, but it’s great to be dealing with a blank slate instead of issues and problems created by a previous owner.  I’ve done a lot of dog rescue …

It’s great to have the deck stacked in my favor. I got pick of the litter, a completely new experience for me. My last puppy (Banner, born March 1996, died April 2010) was an unclaimed pup, the left-over pup in a litter, with iris coloboma, an eye birth defect often associated with merle-to-merle breeding.

My journey with “T” — JiJin’s Tempest — has already lasted 9+ weeks. My first contact with the breeder was 2 days before Tempest was born and I was offered pick of the litter when the pups were just 2-3 days old.

Choosing Tempest was exciting and agonizing. I made countless mental lists about the aspects of my other dogs I hoped to avoid with a new puppy (shyness, aggression, birth defects, structural issues, lack of confidence, etc.).

Pictures of the newborn puppies arrived within days of birth. There were 4 females (3 b/w, 1 tri) and 3 males (3 tri). My admiration of Bud’s Kory (a Keen pup, male, b/w) had me initially interested in the black/white pups — all female.

As the weeks progressed I saw only still pictures and, living 8 hours from the litter, I was limited to minimal visual information. When the puppies turned 4 weeks old I got to watch a 5-minute video.

I watched the video a dozen times the first few days. I listed the pros and cons of each puppy, watching each puppy for the length of the video, trying to get a sense of his or her personality.

I watched for toy drive and relationship with other dogs. I was especially interested in a pup that was not overly dominant (no bullies, please) and not overly submissive (no chickens, please).

I wanted a pup who could be playing with a toy, be challenged by a more dominant pup, withstand the challenge and keep the toy OR relinquish the toy and seek out other toys without being anxious.

It’s amazing what you can glean from 5 minutes of puppy video. Within a few days I’d come to admire a black tri female (FLY) and a black tri male (REX).

For the next 4 weeks I shared my opinions with the breeder and requested her evaluation. She agreed with my evaluations, as well as with my opinion that a “middle puppy” was a good obedience, rally, and agility prospect.

Bully puppies make great herding prospects but I don’t do herding, so I don’t need an “in your face” puppy who knows what he wants and takes it.

The death of Banner made me think more about the female, Fly. I reserved my final choice for the 8-week mark when Bud and I made the trip to Richmond and saw the puppies in person.

I walked up to the puppy play pen. All the pups were playing with toys and each other. Rex, my male pick, split away from the litter to come climb the pen wall nearest me. I asked Rex, “do you want to be a Houston dog?” He said, “heck yes!”

We brought Rex out of the pen and he was very interested in Bud and I. He let me pick him up, accepted being rolled on his back, and hung out with us.

We put Rex away and brought out Fly. She was skittish about my approach, had no interest in Bud, and had a bitch-fit when Kory walked up. She barked at him and darted towards him when he turned away. She barked and fled when he turned toward her.

We put Fly up and brought out Rex. I left the pup to go to my pile of evaluation junk (a metal scent article, a clicker, a whistle) and, when I picked up my stuff, he appeared between my feet looking at me as if to say, “hey, I thought I was your boy? You don’t plan to leave me again, do you?” <g>

I dragged my toys on the ground and Rex grabbed the aluminum dumbell on the cross bar and hung on.  I clicked the clicker and he looked up like “what was that?” and kept playing. I blew the whistle and got the same reaction.

I looked at Bud and said, “SOLD.  I think I have my puppy here.” I didn’t think twice about any of the other puppies. None of them had any interest in me, and the feeling was mutual.

So my blank slate puppy, formerly Rex, became JiJin’s Tempest (aka “T“) on May 10, 2010.

The deck is stacked in my favor with:  1) a puppy who is drawn to me,  2) a puppy who is clever and makes eye contact with me,  3) a training plan designed to develop a rewarding partnership,  4) the opportunity to be his first intense human experience,  5) the motivation on both our parts to work and succeed.

The first week of Tempest’s life I focused on establishing a routine for pottying, eating, sleeping, and playing.

It’s my belief that many behavior problems stem from a lack of routine in the puppy’s life. We get a puppy hoping our lives will be improved, then we just hope our lives won’t be changed over-much.

If we establish routines and get the puppy accustomed to them from the very first we make our lives easier and make the arrival of the puppy a mere speed bump in normal life.

Tempest has three confinement areas and he’s become comfortable napping in each of them. They’re located near where I sleep, near my desk, and in my truck. He’s surrounded by toys which are both chewable and safe.

He sleeps through the night, loves his 4 meals a day (I split his supper between 6 and 9 pm feedings), and has begun 2-min. training sessions with me at least once a day.

I’m learning to meet his exercise needs. I want to hit an optimal level of exercise and play that allows him to fall fast asleep for his afternoon nap, and again at bedtime. On the other hand I don’t want to overstimulate him, or exercise him when he really needs to rest, creating a puppy addicted to activity.

Three routines in particular are becoming part of our daily life:  1) I only open the crate or pen door when Tempest is sitting,  2) we do one meal a day hand-feeding, using the 2-min. protocol for attention and recall — “T!” eye contact, “click,” food,  3) we visit the agility building in the late evening to burn off all remaining energy.

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

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.

Protocols for bravery

July 30, 2009

The 2-minute dog trainer probably had it’s beginnings in my training with Dash for bravery.

With every meal I insisted that he do something which made him uneasy, uncomfortable, or nervous.

His first task, if I remember correctly, was jumping up on an ottoman. Dash learned his new name while sitting or lying down on an ottoman. The ottoman was a stack of firm pillows so we started with the bottom pillow and added height until Dash was jumping up on a wobbly stack of pillows.

His second task was the teeter, beginning with the footrest at my desk. It has a 2-to-4-inch folcrum and a square platform on top. When Dash visited my desk to get attention he had to step up on the footrest with his front feet. After a few attempts at bravery he was able to stay up on the footrest while I wobbled it up and down saying “teeter!”

He had to go up and down stairs for his dinner as we feed dogs in the basement. He learned how to jump up into a crate in my truck for affection and little rides. As I said in yesterday’s blog, “be brave or be lonely, be brave or be hungry.”

Any sign of bravery was rewarded with huge praise and some treats.

Within a few days Dash and I were inseparable and he began a phase with separation anxiety. This often happens with rescued or rehomed dogs, especially if they’ve been neglected or downtrodden by an earlier human.

He clung to me, following me everywhere, so he had to be brave in separation from me. We worked every evening during classes at brave separation.

He wasn’t afraid of dogs, thank God, so the pack actually accepted him and gave him confidence.

The other confidence-building exercise Dash and I engaged in was distance training in agility. I did around-the-clock conditioning with jumps, tires, tunnels, and chutes. Dash became a phenomenal distance dog, with the sure knowledge of the mission and paycheck.

Whenever Dash and I were faced with something he feared we stopped right there, got our our treats and clicker, and worked through his anxiety.

I took Dash to an agility workshop to get him on someone else’s equipment and be able to click/treat in another facility. The workshop was in a horse barn and there were horses hanging over a gate at one end of the building.

Of course, Dash was terrified of the horses on the first day and avoided that end of the building. Late on the first afternoon he had an opportunity to sample a road apple (aka horse poop) and on day 2 he dragged me to the building for another sample.

I walked him to the end of the floor where the horses had hung out the day before and — miracle of miracles! — there were piles there of the most delicious smelling stuff. Dash’s opinion of horses changed that day and he decided he kind of liked those poop machines.

Another event that built confidence for Dash was getting to experience sheep-herding. Consider this — a dog does what is instinctive and natural and receives immediate gratification. He moves behind the sheep and they move forward. It’s an immediate ego boost and the dog feels powerful.

Dash’s experience with sheep started out with his lack of confidence evident, lots of barking and poop-eating. Our instructor was terrific, though, and worked us through moves that showed the sheep that Dash and I were partners (giving Dash power in the eyes of the sheep) and moves where I shifted the herd (proving to Dash that I was a strong leader).

At age 9 Dash remains afraid of nearly every strange thing and event. But he trusts me and will often do something simply because I insist he try. His fears are quickly overcome with food and a clicker.

For example, Dash hates being picked up (part of his legend, his story, is that the idiot purchaser had 2 small daughters who terrorized this puppy by dragging him and picking him up, forcing him into frightening environments), and I was trying to get him to step into a container of bath water.

When I tried picking him up he panicked. When I tried to entice him with movement he balked. When I got my treats and a clicker he stepped into the tub on his own within 3 minutes.

Facing fear, Bud’s teeter discussion

July 29, 2009

Bud is initiating a discussion of teeter issues and he’s reviewing the different types of teeter fears.

I’d like to add my 2-cents as well, on the issue of fear in general. It is my philosophy, when faced with a dog needing training, that his or her fears are unwarranted or irrational.

There are, indeed, things in life of which dogs should be afraid, including, sometimes, the people who own them.

With puppies we must weigh protecting (not scaring) the puppy with building confidence (allowing the puppy to be scared and work through the fear).

I’ve seen demonstrations on the puppy Einstein process, where puppies are stressed in order to encourage the production of neuropathways for coping with stress. We have one dog who (allegedly) experienced this process as a puppy and, frankly, I don’t see any capacity in her for dealing with stress that doesn’t exist in our other dogs.

In agility or obedience training there is nothing the dog should fear. So their fear of jump bars hitting the floor, of teeters banging in the other end of the building, of fans being turned on, of crates banging, are all unwarranted or irrational fears.

A human analogy I often use is this — say your 6-year-old is afraid of the school bus — do you say, “oh, I’m so sorry you’re scared, okay you don’t have to go to school anymore …”  OR do you reason with the child, get them over their fear of the bus, and reward them for being brave? Of course you do the latter as there’s no way for your child to progress and be confident if they never face their irrational fears.

Perhaps the puppy has led such a sheltered (uneventful) life that even the slightest change in environment turns him into a quivering bowl of jelly.

Perhaps the youngster is relegated to a basement or garage and isn’t allowed to put positive associations with the banging and clanging of human existance.

Whatever the reason, when they get to agility class, we set out to reverse the fear, to reward away the fear, to build confidence by making positive associations with any effort at bravery. The reward of joining their owner and the food begins to override anxiety over the strange environment.

“Dash” — a case study in generalized fear …

In 2000 a woman bought a red merle aussie puppy from a well-known breeder of aussies in Texas. The 8-week old puppy was flown from Texas to Ohio. On the face of it this was a great plan. The puppy’s aunt was a world beater, fast and focused, intent on the work with the body structure to back it up. The puppy’s grandmother was biddable and fast.

Error #1 was with the purchaser, who heaped all her expectations of agility world domination on the shoulders of an 8-week-old puppy picked by the breeder and shipped, sight unseen, to Ohio. She was an average handler and an average trainer but she’d only trained border collies in the past.

Error #2 was with the breeder who, in the beginning throes of a divorce, allowed an unwanted pup from her most recent litter to be purchased by a total stranger without any references or knowledge of what his life was going to be.

Error #3 was with the purchaser’s choice of training methods. She decided to initiate a “nothing in life is free” and “tuff love” protocol with this 8-week-old puppy. For a couple of months she persisted with this.

Without knowing the pup I watched the train wreck unfold from afar. On agility lists we heard about how “Player” was being purchased from Texas (because no breeder in Ohio would sell to this woman) and how he was going to carry her to fame.

Within six weeks (pup was 3.5 months old) there were signs that he wasn’t working out, with the purchaser asking “is anyone going to the aussie nationals in Atlanta and could Player ride along to be returned to the breeder?”

In a few more weeks there was a general posting about a 5-month old red merle male puppy RESCUE needing a new home, with the rescue price listed.

I contacted the lady and asked,  1) is this Player, the puppy from Texas? (Yes),  2) is there something wrong with him? (No, we’re just unable to bond.),  3) why don’t you want to keep him?  (He’s a dud and all he’s interested in is food.)

I then contacted the breeder who begged me to go get this puppy, apologizing for having put him in that home, and asking if there was any way I could keep him. According to her the pup, now 5 months old, was clingy and sweet, preferring the company of people to the company of his litter, and a good prospect for training.

So Player became “Dash,” my sweet treasure of an aussie. When he got out of the woman’s crate he was “empty eyed.” He had few expectations of people by this point. He had no desire to interact with these strange creatures.

I put him in my crate, right behind the seat in my van, and he rode home with my fingers entertwined through the wires of the crate and touching his hair. By the end of the 90-minute drive he was leaning on my hand, craving some sort of attention and affection.

People involved with rescue and with shelter dogs will tell you that every adopter of a neglected or unwanted dog attaches a “story” to the dog. The story becomes the legend of that dog. Why he is the way he is. Why my home was his salvation. Why I’m going to heaven because I rescued him.

So that’s Dash’s legend, his story. But his real story is one of generalized fear — fear of everything including going into a crate, coming out of a crate, jumping up on things, jumping off of things, going in a door, coming out a door, going upstairs, going downstairs — conquered through positive reinforcement.

Instead of tuff love, Dash’s training protocol became “be brave or be lonely,” “be brave or be hungry.”  He had only to be a little brave to earn all the love and food he could stand.

After many months of rewarding bravery Dash became my “steady Eddie” in dog agility and obedience. He continues to battle his fears but has a foundation of reward-for-bravery and will, on most occasions, do what I ask with fundamental trust in me and my ability to keep him safe.

So my advice when faced with a dog exhibiting irrational or unwarranted fears is reward your dog for being brave. When you’re at home or in the car, on the street or at a store, reward ANY act of bravery or boldness with huge treats and praise and love.

Kory’s feeding protocol, Mercy’s new home

July 26, 2009

I continued Kory’s feeding protocol with breakfast this morning. He got a little antsy as breakfast was late this morning, did all his bathroom duties without prompting, and went back into his ex-pen on his own.

At breakfast Kory went into the basement with the other dogs and assumed a down position where I tied him last evening. I didn’t ask for a down and he wasn’t tied to the door, he just laid down on his own.

It could be that he saw Blue and Red in their downs (they’ve been doing downs for meals for a couple of years because of their propensity for getting underfoot during feeding, and nipping at the other dogs’ faces as bowls hit the floor …. grrrr ….) and mimicked them.

Anyway, I filled the bowls with Kory lying down quietly, then put him on lead and tied him to the door as I started placing bowls on the floor.

When everyone else was eating I walked to Kory with his food bowl and my clicker. He was dancing with anticipation and I was pleased to see his nose hit the bowl and not come out until the job was done.

I left the basement door open and shooed dogs out as they finished. Kory continued eating.

When he was finished I pointed to the door and he exited quietly, not bothering the dogs who were standing just outside observing the “stay out” command I’d given earlier.

When he got into the yard he wandered about just like a mature dog, not acting submissive or engaging the old dogs at all.

When I called all dogs into the small mud yard he trotted in with the pack. I truly believe this weekend has been a good experience for him, enabling him to become a solid member of the pack instead of an occasional, annoying visitor.

Bud arrives home late tonight and, by the time he gets here, I’ll have fed dinner.  Tonight I’m going to try to omit the leash in the dinner protocol.  We’ll see how well that works ….

In other news … I received pictures from the rescue organization that placed Mercy (now Mandy) with a nice family. I’m so delighted I didn’t adopt that sweet 3-legged girl — now she has two kids, a huge back yard, lots of friends both human and canine, and all the attention she deserves.

If you haven’t tried fostering you should. Just remember the foster mom’s mantra, “you’re going to make someone a great dog!”

In other news … this is reunion season and I received an invitation to reunite with the great group of women who worked in the office at Fenton Art Glass Company. I worked in the office when I was in high school (after school from the time I was 16), joined the sales department in my 20s, and left in 1999 to join Bud in Ostrander.

Fenton Art Glass Company, like many small, skilled, manufacturers, has seen their exclusive designs knocked off by factories in foreign countries. They’re attempting to provide some on-going support to the community by maintaining a small artists’ shop so visitors may still see the handmade glass process up close.

When I worked at Fenton there were 400-600 employees. Now there are about 150. This reunion will be bittersweet.

Additionally, my high school class is having 3 little reunion luncheons every year and the next one is in early September. We’ve created links to each other using facebook and have set our privacy settings to “no one.” <g>

I’m off to teach the advanced (4-hour) workshop!   I’ve got the fall ’09 registration handouts printed and ready so folks can start planning their year.

Finishing Kory’s feeding protocol

July 26, 2009

At this evening’s dinner we began putting the parts of Kory’s feeding protocol together, specifically,  1) keeping Kory’s nose in his own bowl in the presence of other dogs and,  2) keeping Kory’s nose out of the other dogs’ bowls while they eat.

For dinner tonight I put Kory on lead and tied his leash handle to the door knob inside the basement. The other dogs barely noticed the new kid hanging out by the door and, of course, were so intent on their dinner they didn’t go near him.

When everyone’s bowl was down and all were eating I picked up Kory’s bowl and walked him about 4 feet away from the pack, put his bowl on the floor, had my clicker handy, and my hand on the leash.

Kory glanced at the other dogs and dove into his bowl, never stalling out, never breaking position to visit the other dogs, just intent on his work. I clicked and praised for his workmanlike approach to dinner.

After about 45 seconds I hung his leash across his back. He stayed focused on his bowl without changing position at all.

As he was finishing his meal some of the sharks began circling, so I left his side to shoo them out the door. Kory held his place and continued eating.  More clicks and calm praise from me.

When he finished I gave him huge praise which he was delighted to receive, wiggling and kissing my face. I then put him out the basement door and he calmly walked amongst the rest of the pack. Within 30 seconds I said, “Kory, hurry up!” and he produced”poopage,” which is an accomplishment itself.

I believe this feeding training is going to change both Kory’s behavior in the pack , giving him more self-confidence (he’s been WAY too submissive, especially to a couple of our bitches) and his image of himself as a more mature dog.

Hopefully Bud will read this, curious as to what I’m doing with Kory while he’s away, and be pleased with our progress!

more on Kory’s feeding protocol

July 25, 2009

There was a 36-hour delay in publishing my last blog which was written Thursday night. Here it is Saturday morning and it just got published.

Kory’s put-your-head-in-your-bowl-and-eat protocol has progressed nicely.

On Friday he again ate his meal in the basement in the general area where other dogs eat, but in their absence. He again was clicked and encouraged to consume a large bowl of food without stopping or pausing. He again created “poopage” immediately upon consuming this large meal.

Friday evening we added distractions. My mom and sister were here so I fed Kory about 3 feet from my family. He was slightly distracted but got down to business and finished his meal, then pooped for me!

Saturday morning he got to pee before I left to swim. I was gone from 6:30 to 9:15. Upon my return I let all the dogs out in the yard where Kory immediately peed and then pooped!  This was a great bit of progress on regularly scheduled poop performance.

I put the older dogs into the basement, left Kory in the yard, and laid out the pack’s food bowls. As they got busy with their meal I brought Kory in, held his collar, and let him watch. He was fascinated by the feeding frenzy and wanted to check out all the steel bowls. I hung on to him while most dogs finished and began milling around.

I then opened the basement door and shooed Kory and 7 dogs out the door.  Banner and Wizard (my slow-pokes) finished eating and we left the basement.

We came into the house and I got Kory’s breakfast and my clicker. We walked to a spot just six inches from the baby gate separating him from the pack.

Kory took one look at the pack, all of whom were staring at his breakfast, and dove into his meal (earning a click and praise).

I stood nearby until he was diligently working away at his meal, then stepped back 4 feet. He hesitated, I stared at his bowl, he dived back in, I clicked and praised, then stepped back another 3 feet.

By the time he finished his breakfast today, with the entire pack drooling nearby, I was able to walk around the living room putting away my swimsuit, opening windows, doing chores.

Now I need to start putting the pieces together — 1) Kory eating in the presence of the other dogs in the basement feeding zone,  and  2) Kory observing the other dogs eating their meals without hassling them.

Tomorrow is a workshop day and Tracy Waite is going to be my assistant instructor. She’ll have 4 beginners and 4 intermediates. I’ll have 9-10 advanced dogs on my end of the floor.

So today I’ll be setting equipment in the building, doing some straightening up, then may take the pack down to the building for an outing. They love to experience the “wilds” beyond the building and chase each other around the agility field.

training Kory in Bud’s absence

July 25, 2009

When I’m faced with 3-4 days of training Bud’s dogs in his absence I generally pick a specific behavior that needs to be added to the puppy’s reperitoire, but which won’t detract from what Bud’s working on at the time.

For the next 3 days Bud’s judging USDAA at Janet Kemerer’s place in Washingtonville, Ohio. Like a lot of folks who offer trials in this lousy economy, Janet found that entries didn’t justify 2 judges so she asked Bud to judge all 30-some classes over 3 days. He’s going to work his butt off for the next few days so feeding and training Kory is the least I can do.

FYI — I heard on Ohio Public Radio this week that 279,000 more Ohioans lost their jobs in the last quarter, bringing the total number of lost jobs in Ohio to over 679,000. The economy in our part of the state has been stagnant for many years, so this latest crisis isn’t hitting us as hard as it’s hitting the highly populated parts of the state. We had no bubble to burst.

Anyway ….. I’ve chosen a skill to teach Kory that will enhance his life, his relationship with our pack, and our lives.

Kory is going to learn how to put his head in his food bowl and eat without dumping his food, without playing with his bowl, without timing out.

Our pack needs about 90-120 seconds to consume their breakfast, and about another 90-120 seconds to consume their dinner. A puppy who shows little interest in his food bowl, who wanders and nibs into other bowls, is going to get into trouble and is going to have his food stolen.

Until now Kory has been fed separately with Bud implementing mealtime training protocols. Hopefully, by Monday, Kory will be ready to join the pack for a hearty meal without starting any squabbles or suffering meal theft.

I began with our first meal opportunity — Thursday’s dinner. Bud left a couple of hours ago so I fed the pack as usual at about 5:00 p.m.

When everyone had finished their business I blocked them in and brought Kory and his dinner to the basement. I brought along my clicker as well — Kory has been worked a good bit with his clicker so he gets excited when he earns a click.

When I set his full bowl on the floor Kory sniffed it, got a click, and I fed him a few pieces of kibble from my hand. He had no interest in putting his snout in the bowl but I continued to click any instance of Kory’s snout facing the bowl, touching the bowl, going in the bowl.

Each click was accompanied by kibble from my hand which piqued his interest a bit more. As it began to dawn on him that the click occurred when his snout went into the bowl he became more and more intent on continuing to eat.

After about 45 seconds I discontinued feeding him from hand. He put his snout in the bowl, I clicked, he ate kibble.

It took him approximately 5 minutes to finish his bowl of kibble. By the end of the meal he was focused on finishing the food, getting periodic clicks for diving in with gusto after pausing to chew a mouthful.

After dinner I convinced him to produce “poopage” in the back yard quickly, and without the hours of delay he gives Bud. Unless Bud decides to read my blog he’ll have no idea what’s going on here. <g>

………… hours later ………….

Got back into the house from our Thursday night fun run event. Kory and I played fetch with the green kong toy for a few minutes. On his last fetch he caught the kong, spit it out, licked his lips, sniffed a spot on the ground, and gingerly picked up the kong again.

Yep, when I checked, there was a tooth on the ground. He’s dropping them everywhere. We both wear shoes in the house ’cause walking into a puppy tooth, barefoot, on hardwood floors, is just not worth thinking about.

basic obedience modules

July 7, 2009

Our basic obedience training is offered as private lessons. In one-hour lessons I explain the 2-Minute training protocols, demonstrate the homework, and have the clients demonstrate their understanding of the homework exercises.

At the end of the hour I ask “is this sort of training something you think you can do?”  I also ask if they have any questions or if their dog has any behaviors not covered by the training I’ve suggested.

Anyone who has done basic obedience training for any length of time knows what I know — that the problems people face with new dogs, with young dogs, with puppies, whether they’re from a shelter, from the neighbor’s litter, or from a pet store, fall into one of a few categories.

1) My dog bites me. It’s usually “mouthing” more than biting. I find the owner is usually focusing too much attention on the dog’s mouth, putting their hands on or near the snout, constantly touching the dog’s muzzle, sometimes actually sticking their hands in the dog’s mouth. By working the 2-minute protocols the owner learns a new way of interacting with their dog. I also show them how to pet their dog in a way which the dog finds enjoyable without engaging the dog’s muzzle.

2) My dog jumps up on me. In my experience there’s almost always someone in the house encouraging the dog to jump up. This is sometimes an unconscious behavior where the owner simply doesn’t know the proper response to jumping up. Occasionally it is a conscious desire to sabotage the training efforts of the person who dislikes the jumping-up behavior. All the exercises will encourage the dog to adopt a begging position with all 4 feet on the floor. The name recognition, recall, and attention exercise have the dog sitting in front of the handler. Other exercises have the dog walking beside the owner, sitting beside the owner, or lying down.

3) My dog drags me with the leash. When puppies are little we laugh as they drag us around, then we expect the behavior to diminish as the dog gets older. Even experienced obedience and agility exhibitors let their dogs drag on the leash. I’m always careful to have folks practice loose-leash walking while I can oversee their practice. They must be 100% consistent in their responses in order to extinquish leash pulling. If mom and dad do the exercises and kids allow the dog to drag them the lesson will rarely stick with the confused puppy.

4) My dog poops and pees in the house.  Occasionally I meet folks who accept the idea of their dog pottying in the house. They just clean it up. But the vast majority of housetraining problems are created by undisciplined and disorganized people. Faced with a disciplined routine most dogs quickly move toward compliance. My biggest issue in this part of the world has to do with teaching people not to punish the puppy for housetraining accidents. Of course, lots of dogs around here are stuck in the yard and aren’t allowed in the house.

5) My dog runs off and won’t come back. The statement I hear more often than any other is “we can’t have a fence.” This is usually because the family has a large piece of land. So the puppy gets turned loose on this expanse of property and learns to wander at will. The family works on attention to name and recall for a week or two, then expects the training to work forever. My protocols are designed to be repeated as needed. As dogs age they’ll drift in and out of attention versus distraction. The new dog must be trained and can’t be expected to respond the same as the aged dog you just lost.

6) My dog won’t let me take toys, trim nails, put her harness on, etc. This is a skill which people often give up on. Even savvy dog trainers will often come up with tricks to make the dog surrender toys, gimmicks to get the dog to file their own nails, or ways of holding treats to make the dog walk into leashes or harnesses. Sometimes it’s important that dogs accept some things they don’t like. I encourage owners to think of their dogs as 7-year-old kids, or teenagers, to tap into what might be a more natural response to the dog “not wanting” to perform certain behaviors. With my own dogs I often say, “because I’m the mommy, that’s why you must do this.” I know there are complex conditioning exercises we can do to get a dog to accept nail trimming, for example, but most dogs quickly give up resisting when they realize you’re not planning a surrender.

My 2-Minute training for basic obedience is designed to focus the dog on positive behaviors during mealtimes. At all other times I encourage the owners to use routines and management techniques to eliminate the opportunity for the dog to engage in negative behaviors.

For lots of dog trainers this is natural, common sense. What I’ve always found, however, is that there’s no common sense with dogs. Either you have it or you don’t.