Posts Tagged ‘housemanners for puppies’

2-minute dog trainer – toys for work

November 23, 2010

Today I spent 5 minutes in our training building, showing my Mother and Sister how Tempest is doing with his agility lessons.

Instead of using food treats, I picked up his cloth frisbee. I learned an important lesson in that 5 minutes.

The toy creates a distraction for Tempest through which he’s unable to work (at 8 months of age) because he’s never be trained that toys are the reward for work.

This seems to be a simple thing, doesn’t it?  But clearly, when you’re an 8-month-old border collie a toy should be the reward for breathing, and work should be shunned. <g>

I’m going to do a little work with him over the next weeks and months, to let him understand the work-for-reward (whether food or toys) system that dog trainers use to shape behavior.

I’m not overly-concerned with Tempest’s behavior. I remember the days when I was doing Golden Retriever rescue and would pull “free to a good home” dogs from disfunctional homes, rehabilitate them, and find lovely homes for nicely trained dogs.

The dog’s behavior when I got them was more a function of their age — almost always 8-to-1o-months of age — not their breed or training or the family’s commitment to keeping them.

I always tried to get the family to actually train through these adolescent months, with the idea that they’d have a fabulous family dog in 6-8 months.

They always just said, ” I need to get this dog out of my house before my [spouse] gets rid of it.”

There’s no reason to believe that my puppy, with the advantages of 2-minute dog training from age 2 months to 8 months, will be this age with any extraordinary blessing.

He’s 8 months old.  I just tell myself, “Deal with it.  Stay steady, be consistent, don’t get upset, let Tempest come around after he gets through this period of adolescent growth.”

2 minute dog trainer – holes in my training

October 16, 2010

Tempest is now 7 months old. I’ve had him for 5 months.

He’s 95-100% consistent on the following behaviors:

1) 2-on-2-off contact performance on dogwalk, a-frame, and teeter

2) automatic down on the pause table

3) coming when called

4) letting go of his toy when I say “okay”

5) releasing off the start line when I say “T!”

He’s 75-80% consistent on the following behaviors:

1) heeling off my left leg, looking up at me (he tends to forge to “head” me off)

2) taking his nose away from an item of interest when I say “leave it!”

3) walking on a loose leash (he walked with my Mom the other day and she said he walked beautifully for her, but he tends to forge with me)

4) sitting at the start line (he anticipates the run and can’t be bothered with sitting)

5) tunnels (he has started “heading” me by running to the entrance of the tunnel, whirling around to face me and stare, heading me as he would sheep or cattle)

6) jumps (he has had little or no jump training because of his age, so he takes the jump if I’m really specific and goes around it if I’m not)

7) tire (again, little jump training so good response if I’m really specific but no desire to do the jumps or tire if I’m vague)

Thursday night class:

Much to my delight, my work schedule allowed Tempest and I to attend this past Thursday night’s agility class. It’s an advanced class, so I did mini-sequences with Tempest and kept them brief so we didn’t interrupt the training going on with the more advanced dogs.

Here are the holes in our sequencing and obstacle training and my resolutions for filling in those holes.

A)  turning … Tempest loves to get a head of steam over 1-2 jumps and would, I suppose, just like to keep running until he hits the state of Virginia.  To fill in this hole in his training I resolve to teach him to target my hand, come to hand, and recognize the word “close” as his cue to come into handler focus. Because I don’t want him to constantly be in handler focus I want to be very specific about when and where handler focus will occur.

B) working away … just this week Tempest decided to run ahead, turn and face me, and head me off as he would livestock (or his brother Kory).  To fill in this hole in his training I resolve to return to return to work at sending him ahead to do work. When I point to a tunnel and say tunnel I want him to stay focused on the tunnel until he’s completed the task. If he turns to face me I’ll break off my attention, turn my back on him and walk away. The training will continue when he discontinues heading and follows me. This training won’t take place in a class setting as it involves too much time and patience. When others are waiting I’ll be impatient and won’t allow Tempest to think through his error, so I won’t make the mistake of trying to work on this problem during classes and workshops.

C) jumping and tire training … an intentional hole in Tempest’s training, left until last because of his age. I resolve to get our hoops out and teach Tempest some obstacle focus when I’m moving. He needs to begin operating like an agility dog in motion (following the line I’m creating) instead of a herding dog (controlling my movement by heading me off).

This is a really exciting phase in training for Tempest and I. We’re getting to run, we’re building a partnership, and we’re going to become a team.

A few things I’m pleased with include:  my weight loss (due to my job I’m working off about half a pound a week), Bud’s and my resolution to eat better and live healthier, the general health of our pack of dogs.

Creaping slowly toward winter I’m reminded of the old dogs we lost this year. I dreamed of them last night and miss all the effort we used to spend making sure they were steady on their feet, warm, and dry. I see the rubber attached to the ramp into the yard and am reminded of Banner’s difficulty with the slippery ramp last winter.

My heart aches every time I pass the graves of my dearly departed. No dog will ever replace any one of them. Each of them held a special place in my heart.

In the words of Eric Clapton, “will you know my name, if I saw you in heaven?”

2-minute dog trainer – agility sequencing begins

October 8, 2010

Now that Tempest is nearly 7 months old, has recovered from his neuter surgery, and has nearly reached his full size, I’ve begun agility sequencing using the obstacles he knows pretty well — tunnels, contacts, and jumps.

Jumps are not too familiar to him as we just started some very low jump training about a month ago.

Breakfast training still focuses on heeling, though I had an epiphany yesterday morning. I had this clear realization that I don’t have the time or money to show in two sports.

So I’m focusing on agility from this point on. Obedience heeling will be an elegant way to approach the start line, and all the basic stuff will still be reinforced (loose-leash walking, coming when called, sitting for attention, settle in the house, grooming, etc.).

My new job has me away from home 3-to-5 days a week. I leave home by 10:00 a.m. and don’t get back until 8:00 p.m. I miss all of Bud’s training time, all our private lessons, all our group classes.

I have managed to ask for time off on all the Sundays we have workshops but often find myself too tired to enjoy them. That’s going to change as I become more comfortable with the demands of my job.

In the meantime, with Bud at the TDAA Petit Prix in Washington state (with Hazard), and beautiful fall weather outside, Tempest and I have added 2-a-days to our breakfast and dinner routine.

Breakfast and dinner — with his meal in a remote location Tempest heels to a position on the floor adjacent to his contact trainer. I cue “left” or “right” and “walk-it!” and he turns away from me, climbs his contact trainer and gets part of his breakfast for a 2-on-2-off position. We repeat this once or twice for a total of 2-3 performances per meal. 

Next week I’m going to bring a jump into the basement feeding area and do at least one meal a day for ’round-the-clock jump training.  Jump is the middle of the face of the clock, handler moves with dog around the edge of the clock, dog-on-right, dog-on-left, sending to the jump from 6″, from 12″, from 18″, from 24″, from 36″, etc.

During our training in the agility building we’re working on sequencing and start-line stays.

In exchange for allowing me to lead out, walk around equipment, and return, Tempest gets games of tug and — on occasion — gets to do agility equipment.

For this week’s private lessons and class I had a layout in the building conducive to training a puppy.  Low a-frame, lots of low jumps and tunnels, nothing too difficult.

So Tempest and I worked on a simple sequence.  Jump-tunnel-jump-tunnel. (Sorry, I don’t have CRCD so can’t draw it for you — set 3 jumps in a straight line — take c-shaped tunnels and put them off to the side, facing in towards the dog’s path on the line of jumps.)

Sequencing on this layout provides the puppy with some interesting training opportunities:  1) jumps may be set up as a slice, to show that a “jump is a jump is a jump, whether facing you or set at an angle,”   2) tunnels won’t always be straight in line with your start-line position,  3) when you come out of a tunnel look to me for instructions,  4) the sequence may not end at a tunnel,  5) there’s tugging to be had if you do everything I ask!

He was a motivated student (working for his tug toy).  I felt relaxed and un-stressed (it was my day off).

We had a blast.  I hope to be able to fit more of this training into my daily routine, even on days I have to work.

I can either take him to the building between breakfast and heading out to work (between 9-10 a.m.) or take him to the building after work (8:30 p.m.).  Morning would probably work out better for me, as I’m more likely to have the energy then.

But, on the other hand, when Bud’s here I sometimes go swimming before work (still working on getting rid of the last 10-20 pounds slowing me down).  AND, Tempest might have a more relaxing evening if he gets a little work after dark. 

AND, Tempest would probably be more comfortable working several hours after his supper instead of several minutes after his breakfast — probably healthier to allow his meals to settle.

I’ll work sequencing into his schedule through the winter, though.

My goal is to get him into the agility workshops for mini-sequences (if the class is doing 9 obstacles Tempest and I will do 4 of those, for example) through the fall, build to bigger sequences through the winter, and be ready for advanced sequencing by his first birthday in March 2011.

In the meantime, his behavior in the house is pretty good considering his age.  He loves to chew on OAK, so he’s damaged some of my nice furniture when Daddy allowed him free run of the house and I’m away. 

Sight of chewed oak furniture was shocking enough that no further warnings were necessary about the need to crate the puppy when he can’t be watched closely.

In the meantime, I’m off to work today and the next 2 days (beatings will continue until morale improves <g>) — all the while Bud and Hazard are whooping it up at the TDAA Petit Prix in Auburn, WA.

Good luck at the Petit Prix to my sweeties !!!!

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 finds heel

September 14, 2010

A week ago I came to the conclusion that Tempest was NOT going to debut Sept. 25 in rally obedience.

Because Tempest’s debut was put off (for months, actually), my goals have changed.

Instead of encouraging him to dance with me, whether in agility or rally-o or obedience, I’m limiting my movement and asking him to think about what I’m saying.

He’s learning quite a few words, including (but not limited to):

1) “T” means “pay attention to me,” versus “Tempest” which is his name. “T” is a cue in itself, while “Tempest” means another cue will follow.

2) “Come” which means “drop what you’re doing and come to me.”

3) “Leave it” which means “drop the mulch,” “walk away from Kory’s dinner without stealing any of it.”

4) “Lie Down” which means freeze in a 2-on-2-off position on the contacts. This was Bud’s language with Kory and he’ll be running Tempest some of the time, so I surrendered my choice of language on this one. Upside is we get to use the same words on an agility course. Downside is Tempest doesn’t actually know that “lie down” means “lie down.”

5) “T-down” means “lie down.”

6) “Heel” is a cue meaning “move into heel” or “move to stay in heel” position. Most important — key to my rewarding the performance — is moving. It’s important that Tempest sees heeling as a sport activity, rather than as a begging or groveling position.

7) “Settle” means lie down and relax quietly, whether in a crate or in the living room.

In addition to the words he’s learned, Tempest remembers all my foundation training, including “sit” is the way you ask for things like going out through the door, coming in through the baby gate, and entering or exiting a crate or pen.

At the strangest moments I’ll find him sitting facing the back door (Mommy, please, may I go out?).  Or sitting in the dining room facing toward where I’m sitting and the other dogs surround me (Mommy, are you coming this way to feed us?). Or sitting in the training building facing the open door as the rest of us follow him in (Kory, would you please come play with me?).

Sit has become his default, his means of controlling his environment. And I love that.

Down has become his self-control posture, and his means of calming himself. I love that, too!

2-minute dog trainer – 2011 goals

September 8, 2010

A huge (though temporary) disappointment for me was the bit of confusion over whether I’d actually be given the day off on September 25, the Saturday of a local obedience trial where I had hoped to get 2 more RAE legs for Dash (who is 10-1/2 years old), and where I planned to debut Tempest (at 6 months) in his novice rally introduction.

I had requested the weekend off but, as a new employee, I was confused and discouraged when I saw the work schedule listing me working that weekend.

I drove home engaged in an angry rant. By the next morning, however, I had decided to take the long view with my little boy, keep training, and look toward spring and brighter days. I’m going to invest the money I’d have paid for the trial in Tempest’s neuter surgery and heartworm / flea prevention meds.

In the big picture, and considering the current dismal economic picture, we’re fortunate to be seeing healthy growth in our training center, to have affordable health insurance, and to have two lovely new puppies in addition to our great pack of dogs.

So Tempest continues with heeling training with his breakfast. Now, because there’s no rush to get an extended heeling pattern from him, I’ve made his training more granular, breaking it down even more, letting him make more choices.

This week we’re working on “find heel.”  I really want him to eagerly whirl into heel position. The obedience teams which capture my attention most are those where the dog is really throwing itself into the performance. That’s the type of partner my dear, departed Banner was, and I’d love to have that back in Tempest.

I take Tempest’s food bowl away from the rest of the pack (all gobbling down their meal), set the bowl on a high table, and Tempest quickly volunteers heel position.

“Yes!” is my response for the first heel position, but no food yet.

I take either:  1) a short step forward,  2) a right pivot,   3) a left pivot,  or  4) a long step forward.

If Tempest sticks with me he gets a “Yes!” and his breakfast.

If Tempest fails to stick with me he gets a “Let’s try again!” and we repeat the exercise. His focus and desire to do work while blocking out distraction are superior to any dog I’ve had before, so I don’t want to spoil that by setting my criteria too low or allowing him to believe that sub-standard performance is “good enough.”

The best thing about a working stockdog puppy is that I don’t have to spend 50% of my training efforts building confidence and drive.

I do, however, have the responsibility of maintaining criteria. If I waver in my visualization of the correct performance, if I make Tempest question the proper behavior, my training will be set back.

Clarity of vision, and a resolve to “do it right or don’t do it at all” are my best tools with Tempest right now.

It has long been my belief that dogs make errors in performance (obed, rally, agility, whatever) because of ill-timed or inconsistent rewards in their training.

Ill-timed rewards make the dog wonder “what was it that earned the reward?”

Inconsistent rewards make the dog wonder “does she like what I offered or not?”

Clarity — consistency — constancy — these three tools will get Tempest and I to success in our journey.

It doesn’t matter whether we debut at 6 months or 14 months. It doesn’t matter whether his debut is in rally or agility. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether his debut is with me handling, or with Bud handling.

My joy is in the journey. My joy comes pouring back to me from Tempest’s eyes. His enjoyment of the process and growing adoration of me is a sustaining constant in the turmoil of these busy (and occasionally obnoxious) days.

My puppy is my joy now.  Bud’s pleasure over Tempest’s personality is my joy now.

All the rest will pass.

2-Minute Dog Trainer, Tempest’s directionals

August 21, 2010

I’ve started a new job that enables Bud and I to have awesome health insurance benefits, so my puppy training is going to reflect the amount of time available to me.

Frankly, this is going to put my training more on line with most of our students (and readers of this journal), and I’m going to be focusing on how to fit little training sessions into a busier schedule.

Tempest is continuing his heeling work at mealtimes.

I put his food bowl on a table and walk away from it into the basement.  I face back toward the food bowl and get Tempest into heel position (click!).

We immediately heel forward about 2 feet (click!) and run to the food bowl.  I make this first pattern really short because Tempest will be very anxious about his food bowl, and all the other dogs eating.

After Tempest has eaten about half his food, I remove the bowl and put it back on the table.

We walk away and establish another beginning point in the basement. Tempest, knowing the remainder of his meal is on the table, gets a little “eager” (he LOVES eating <g>).

I calm him, get him back in heel position, and do a few more complex patterns.

Today, for example, we started out in heel position, facing the food on the table, and did a “Forward U-Turn from Halt” and then we heeled in a counter-clockwise square (a series of left turns) with Tempest giving me really nice eye contact and maintaining heel position.

This heeling pattern lasted about 45 seconds, and ended at the food table where Tempest offered a sit — “YAY !!” — food bowl went down and he got to finish his breakfast.

In addition to heeling, Tempest is getting schooled on his directionals by Bud.  This week’s lesson has been “Right!”

When I got home from work yesterday I said, to Tempest, “Right!” and gave him a little signal.  As he was turning to the right I sensed a great deal of movement off to my right.

It was Kory, offering right spins over and over and over. LOL  He’s such a good boy.

2-Minute Dog Trainer – puppy’s “bang it!”

August 16, 2010

When I started thinking about getting a new puppy, my wish list was pretty simple:

1) brave … “self-destructive brave” was how I phrased it in conversation … I wanted a pup who, like my last pup (Banner ’96), would go boldly where and when asked … no fear response, no lack of confidence, no questioning the sanity of the request … just brave.  Later I thought about bravery as “overcoming fear” and decided what I really wanted was a puppy who had NO FEAR.  I didn’t want a pup who had to be brave to overcome fear.  I wanted a pup who said, “what’s there to be afraid of?”  I adjusted my wish list to “unconcerned and confident.”

2) “I don’t want one of those pricked-eared, coyote-legged, black tri string beans.”  Oh well … I’m madly in love with a pricked-eared, coyote-legged, black tri string bean, and loving every minute of it.  Sooooo … back to the unconcerned and confident bit. <g>

It’s not that Bud and I don’t love our rescued, non-confident, fearful, or carsick dogs. We adore them.

But there’s something intoxicating about walking to the start line of agility, obedience, or rally, with a dog who has only has eyes for you, is unconcerned about people / dogs / gates / stewards / flooring / equipment / etc.

So you can imagine how pleased I am with Tempest’s teeter performance.

After Kory showed a lack of recognition for the teeter at his first show (Bud calls all contacts “walk up”) we decided it would make sense to use a separate name for the teeter.

I’ve always called it “teeter,” and all other contacts “walk,” but teeter sounds alot like “T” — and I use “T” as an attention-getting device when Tempest is working. “T” means look-at-me, check-in, pay-attention, etc.

So we settled on “Bang it!”  We’ve both been doing “bang it!” exercises with our dogs 1-2 times a day.

My equipment layout for Tempest is simple … straight line from a pause table is a wing jump and 20 feet of empty floor to the teeter.

Exercise 1:  the table exercise … criteria I’m rewarding includes  a) move in front of me to the table,  b) hop on without hesitation,  c) turn and face me,  d) lie down. When I approached this exercise the first time, with Tempest’s toy, he didn’t get the idea of behaving in such a specific way for the pleasure of tugging with his toy. So I put away the toy and brought out his string cheese and clicker — he got the behavior I wanted in just a few minutes. Now that he understands (as much as a 5-mo-old pup CAN understand) my criteria, I’ve brought out the toy again and reward for quick downs with excitement and release to the toy.

Exercise 2:  the stay exercise … criteria I’m rewarding include,  a) lying down or sitting for a stay,  b) staying in a nice-tucked posture — no slouchy sits, no floppy downs,  c) an implied stay, that is, if I say sit or down I expect you to maintain that position until I give you more information.  He’s had a couple of training sessions on stay, learning to let me walk away, walk around him, or stand beside him — in a sit or down.

Exercise 3:  the lead out … criteria I’m rewarding include the stay criteria above, plus  a) recognition of my release word,  b) excited and vigorous dismount of the table,  and c) coming to me across the jump.

Exercise 4:  bang-it! … criteria I’m rewarding include,  a) approaching the teeter from a wide variety of positions (Tempest puts himself on the teeter, from straight on, from the side, etc.),  b) controlling the board’s tip,  c) moving boldly to the high end of the teeter and riding it down,  d) freezing in position as the board drops,  e) stepping off the board with 2 front feet and freezing in his 2-on-2-off position.

I forward chain the complete sequence.  First we do a couple of table exercises. Then a couple of stay exercises, leading out a few feet, then walking around the jump, always returning to Tempest to reward him for staying.

After a few of these exercises, I have Tempest go to the pause table and lie down. I say “stay” and walk away.

My goal is to walk to the descent of the teeter but, if Tempest anticipates the release I calmly turn and, without recrimination, return to the table.

It usually takes a couple of tries but he’s always solid on the third or fourth lead out, so I’m confident he’s getting the idea that stay means stay, regardless of where I go.

I walk out to the descent of the teeter, turn a face him, stick my lead hand in front of his path (as a target and an indication that he’ll end his work there), and cue him “T – bang it!”

He comes boldly across the jump, runs with decent speed to the teeter, runs up the teeter, bangs it down, sticks his 2-0-2-0, and freezes.  I toss the toy ahead of him, give him his release word (“Yes!”) and let him play with his toy.

I’m pretty excited about this from a puppy.

At mealtimes we’re working on heeling.  Not long distances, but with good attention and some precise movement.  A few 180’s, some stops and starts, and backing up when he forges towards his meal.

2-minute dog-trainer, Tempest at 5 months

August 9, 2010

Tempest turns 5 months old in about 5 days.

In addition to being a treasured pet he’s going to be a bit of a “business partner” for Bud and I.

When you offer dog-training classes, whether obedience or agility, your reputation and credibility rest on the shoulders of your canine partner.

As we say here at Houston’s Country Dream — your dog’s behavior is a perfect mirror of your training skills and dedication. (Of course, temperament and personality play a big role in behavior as well.)

It’s important to me that Tempest is confident. It’s important to me that he behaves in a manner that indicates he’s been properly conditioned to perform the behaviors required.

Beyond that, I want him to be a happy member of my pack, and a loving /lovable pet.

For 2010 my goals for Tempest included:

1) basic obedience completed, with systems put in place to ensure continued good behavior.

2) beginner agility begun with Tempest offering confident performances on baby equipment, and responding with excitement to my movement.

3) advanced obedience begun, using my version of Dawn Jecs’ “choose to heel.” My firm goal is to enter an obedience trial with Tempest in about 5 weeks. He’ll be entered in Rally-Novice and maybe Beginner Novice obedience.

Last week I began some short heeling sequences prior to giving Tempest his breakfast and supper.

Rather than feeding with every step, I’m asking Tempest to heel for about 15 seconds — toward his meal — with no food in my hands.

Additionally, Tempest did obedience class last evening for about 90 minutes. He didn’t work that whole time, of course, but he had several training sessions, including:

1) heeling “rally style,” with halts, sits, downs, walk-around-your-dog, call front, etc. called out by me or by my students.

2) call front exercise, working at getting Tempest to focus on sitting straight rather than focusing on the potential food in my hands.

3) recall exercise, with Tempest staying while I walk 20-feet away, and call him to me.

4) right and left turns, where Tempest is starting to get the idea that he should stop moving forward and — indeed! — move backward when I say “back” and step into his path. He much prefers right turns and forging. (Better than lagging, IMO.)

5) introduced to cone exercises, first doing rally-in-a-box where we tighten up all the exercises by specifying they be performed in a 4×4 square, and finally by setting out the serpentine exercises and working him through the “serpentine, weave twice” sign.

ALL THIS, most astoundingly, without food in my hands. The food was nearby, but my hands were empty.

I’d really like for Tempest to have the skill to stay focused in the ring, regardless of how often the reward comes.

2-minute dog trainer, advanced puppy work

August 5, 2010

I’m so lucky to have a pup who loves to go out to the building to train, who loves both toys and food, who is always interested in interaction with me.

I’m also lucky to have a pup with an “off switch.”  When he’s in the house, Tempest is relatively calm and quiet. He takes wicked-deep naps, has what I can only assume are awesome dreams of barking and chasing, and is very nearly house-trained now.

He still has accidents on occasion, but he seems more capable of holding it until he gets outside.

This week I’ve started advanced puppy work, including:

1) heeling … I pour Tempest’s food into his bowl, set it up on a table, and walk about 10 feet away with my clicker and my puppy … we turn and face the food bowl … I put Tempest in heel position in a sit … I position my hand as it would be for heeling (at my waist) … we heel forward about 2 feet and halt (with a click and sit) … another 2 feet and halt … I ask for 2 or 3 tiny heeling events … then make a big deal about putting his food bowl down.  YAY !!

In the past I’ve experienced dogs who had issues with delayed reward.  I want Tempest to realize from day one that there are going to be times when he’ll be expected to behave in a particular way even without food immediately available.  Perhaps this is the “working dog” benefit, but it seems to be working for us.

So he doesn’t get food with every heeling movement, with every sit. It’s more of a jackpot for being biddable for that entire 30-second period of time.

2)  contacts … we go out to the big-boy dogwalk a couple times a day … with our tug toy in my off-side hand … ask for a “walk it — lie down” and play tug for a completed 2-0-2-o contact performance … I try to not insert physical cues, to not handle Tempest, to let him choose to get into position … then lots of tugging and play!

The “lie down” cue is sort of a universal “look-at-me-and-freeze” command.  Since Bud will be running Tempest some, and I’ll be running Kory some, we’ve chosen to establish the same criteria, teach the same skills, and have the same verbal cues.

3) bang-it! … Bud’s teeter cue used to be “walk it!” and mine was “teeter!” … Kory demonstrated some confusion over the teeter last weekend so we decided “bang it!” might be a good meeting place for both our dogs … Tempest and I go to the baby teeter and he runs from end to end … “Bang it!” has him running to the end, riding the teeter down, and assuming his 2-o-2-o position … he really stretches forward with his front feet, waiting for …. the tug toy!

4) self-control … with a line of jumps in front of him, Tempest is able to sit and stay while I walk around the first jump … he gets his tug toy for staying … then back to his sit stay and gets to take a jump … he gets his tug toy for staying … I don’t want to always release him to the jump … sometimes I’ll release him in another direction.

Tempest shows amazing self-control, but it’s not surprising — he’s been taught self-control since he was 8 weeks old. I believe I’m seeing the benefit of all my “sit for attention, sit to exit your pen, sit to exit your crate, sit to exit the house, sit to make the babygate open,” etc.

I’m using toys and tugging for Tempest’s agility training, and food and clicker for Tempest’s obedience training. Lucky for me he LOVES BOTH !!

Bud leaves for a 4-day trial and seminar trip tomorrow, so Tempest and I will have plenty of time to ourselves.  We’ll continue our advanced puppy work with jump work and some beginner weave-work (2 poles, no twisting).