Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting Ready for the Trial

About turns are still not consistent, lots of running out of about turns and 270 turns but they don't seem to be making much of an impression. Left turns are still a little inconsistent but way better, she might get bonked once by not getting out of the way in time but no mistakes after the first one. Right turns are also just okay, I think her performance on both left and right turns are largely a function of how well *I* do the turn. We worked at the park blocks today and she sniffed the ground on her sit stay, something I haven't seen her do in a long time, so it's good to know that so we can work on it this week. Her elbows came up a little on her down stay but other than that did great. Didn't bump me on the slows today, if I recall correctly. We really need to work on her taking a good three seconds to resignedly settle into a down, she is not a fan of wet grass and needs to learn that it's not an excuse. I am thinking of trying the prong for the week before the show: I made that decision yesterday, and promptly forgot. Whoops. Hoping that writing it down will help me remember. Adding the hold to her retrieve is going good, we haven't worked on downs in two days which is no good since it's a bit of a contentious thing with her, but I'm focusing on polishing for the trial.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Snaggletooth, Fetch!

It's hard enough to find the time to train the dog everyday, much less write about it!

Writing because I have no one with whom to share the hilariousness of Kiko's resignation to the dumbbell. Other than my trainer, who stands with me waiting for her to accept that the way to get the dumbbell from being pressed against her lips is to take it. She sits there looking half asleep and snoring a little, as if hoping that she can take a nap and when she wakes up maybe the dumbbell will be gone. She is getting much better about taking it in a timely manner, though. Everything else is going really well, she finally started actually *running* in on recalls, and we got through an important confusion with doing a finish without the leash. I really don't think I was cuing her with the leash on the finish, except for the fact that the leash was physically present and serves as a cue by moving as I pass it behind my back. Off leash heeling is going REALLY well, I am really pleased, she's above and beyond doing way better than either Catfish or Chewy did at this point. I think Catfish did fairly well in the beginning, but poor Chewy was at a loss since the whole time he'd been training with a leash that was way too big for him, so it was a big shock to not have that weight there. And I'm finally learning not to make my commands sound like questions. "Kiko, heel?" isn't very convincing. I'd like to work around cats more, we haven't seen any in a week. Her recalls from an okay are what I feel is most important, and she's doing pretty well with them, so I'm happy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Funny that what was wrong with both dog's heeling was my level of confidence, ha! And my tone of voice, go figure: high-pitched sing-song voice does not sound like praise as much as normal tone of voice.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Kiko continues to do good with heeling and sitting! Except for when she totally forgets that she's heeling and gets caught on an about turn, but it's infrequent, I am especially pleased with her sitting every time we stop before I can place her. I suppose that's to be expected when she's been placed upwards of a hundred times, but gosh I am still amazed every time at how effectively they learn it. Though she is a creature of comfort and those sits aren't quite as relaxed or long on the wet pavement as they are indoors, but who can blame her?

Chewy and I did out of sight sit stays and down stays for the first time today: pretty funny how after only a few moments he thinks: well, she's not here, I'm gonna go hang out on the couch. My house has a good set up for spying on him from around the corner through the reflection on the windows, he held his second stay both times after realizing that just because he can't see me doesn't mean he isn't obligated to hold his stay. He did a lot better on his straight sit in front on his recall, in the past being in the house he has felt more relaxed and has gone around in a finish or gone to sit next to one leg etc. Also recalling off the couch: good dog!

I had Chewy on a stay and I told him "Chewy, free!" and he cocked his head to one side (I'd never given him a free from a sit stay before) and I said it again and he cocked his head to the other side. My heart melted at his work ethic/commitment to the stay, Catfish took every time I said "Okay!" to mean that I was talking to HIM and came bounding over, which is why I changed the command to free, as I have a tendency to say "Okay" in the same tone of voice to people as I do to dogs.

Recently reading about some really awful instances of abuse of prong collars, I forget that most people calling themselves dog trainers don't understand how dogs learn and use prong collars instead of training the dog. It makes me so upset to think about the poor dogs not understanding what they did wrong, and the humans not understanding why the dog doesn't understand what's right and what's wrong. Education! If the trainers and owners knew that the dog wouldn't understand and that it wouldn't solve the problem, I doubt they'd use it. But instead both dog and human are left confused and frustrated at their inability to communicate, often to the severe detriment of the dog. I am reminded of Alex the African Grey, who learned an incredible amount of skills because humans had a greater understanding of how animals learn, and changed their teaching style. It was not that African Greys got smarter; it was that we began to communicate with them more effectively. It's our responsibility to care for our pets, which includes keeping them safe, which means basic manners and obedience for our dogs. They rely on us to teach them what our society expects from them. Kiko has no idea that it's wrong to kill cats. Even with the lunge work we've done, all she knows right now is that when she hard stares at a cat, I turn and walk away, so she's got to pay attention to what I'm doing and not the cat. Eventually I'll teach her that the hard stare is not acceptable. But she has no idea until I tell her in a way that she can understand.

This is what happens when you're sleep deprived, you start waxing poetic over dog training, wishing you were Vicki Hearne.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chewy is doing great with the light line/off leash work, FINALLY not lagging anymore! I always feel silly and relieved to find a simple fix for something: Kali told me a few weeks ago to do this, and we actually did it at our lesson with Randall, and whaddya know, almost immediately he stopped lagging. Little guy just needed to know that running is not always a correction for lagging, sometimes it's just FUN! I want to get a video of him working sometime soon, as proof of how horrible and cruel Koehler training is, and how it breaks a dog's spirit: his ears perked up and prancing next to me, adorable little curly tail wagging when I praise him for a perfect recall, and most of all for his okay release, how he immediately jumps up in the air as soon as I say "Free!" Broken, ruined dog, that is. Hates working.

Kiko is doing GREAT with the heeling, I am really pleased. AKA, she's heeling as good as a normal day two dog! It'll be interesting to see how she does with the sit once it's a command rather than a placement, how quickly she grasps the concept. Sometime I'll post pictures of them, I have some good ones of Chewy leaping into the air to chase a toy, and Kiko cozied up beneath many blankets. It's hard to get out of bed in the morning when there is always a cute puppy face to kiss, both of them are such good snugglers.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Kiko is really interesting because she isn't used to communicating with humans, with listening to them, with thinking before she acts. Totally oblivious from her first 3(?) years having very little human contact, chained on a vacant lot. Which has also very much hardwired her to go after small creatures, since it was hit or miss whether or not she would be fed. This will be veeery interesting.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day Six, Week Two

Realized yesterday that I'd been doing the sit placement wrong all week...whoops. "Chewy" as the right foot stops, "sit" as the left foot stops. Not "Chewy, sit" while we're stopped and I'm standing there looking at him like an idiot. If I was watching somebody else do it, it would've been obvious, so much easier to notice what's going on physically when you are the observer. He also wasn't making the connection between collar pressure and sitting down, probably due to my being heavy handed on the sit placements and putting more emphasis on my hand on his butt than my hand applying collar pressure. But, thank goodness, he got it pretty quickly once my trainer helped me out. It's very different training an adult dog rather than a puppy, especially a puppy that is possibly even more dog-oriented due to being the only pup in his litter and so is very ramped up about dogs/doesn't have an off switch with them. One right turn and run when Chewy goes wide to investigate Pagan, and he's no longer interested. Wow! Catfish took plenty of passes before calming down and committing himself to heeling. Also, Catfish was never one for lagging, whereas Chewy is lagging to one degree or another most of the time. I am so, so thankful to have the guidance and help of my two trainers! It'd be so much harder to learn how to do it right without them.