Archive for the ‘Dog Training’ Category

The Name Game

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

So I made a video about how to play this game. I didn’t invent the game but it’s a super useful way to train your dog to come when called!

This is classical conditioning (like Pavlov): you are teaching the dog to associate their name with something good. They don’t have to DO anything to get the reward, they just have to hear their name, and then eat a cookie!

Here’s how I play this:

  • choose a boring (to the dog) and small room in your house (the bathroom is perfect)
  • take a handful of kibble or treats (literally no more than 10-15 per session is enough)
  • take the puppy and the food into the room and close the door
  • say the puppy’s name, feed a treat
  • say the puppy’s name, feed a treat
  • not “come”, not “sit”, not “down”, this isn’t teaching the dog a command, it’s simply building an association between their name and something good
  • do this twice a day for two or three weeks, until you can tell the dog is looking for the treat when they hear you call them
  • periodically just walk up to the dog, call their name, feed a treat (I still do this with my 13.5 year old dog!), this keeps putting money in the bank that the one time you really REALLY need them to come when you call them, they’ll think it’s worth their while
  • try your best not to “poison” their name by using it for negative things (baths, nail trims, end of playtime, just go get them).
  • occasionally call your dog to you, take their collar, feed a treat, and let them go back to what they were doing (so they learn that coming when called doesn’t mean playtime is over necessarily, sometimes it means snacks!)
  • it is NEVER a bad idea to play this game at ANY point in your dog’s life!

I have Orange boy Timber on my lap for this video, but in a bathroom you can just let the puppy wander around (remember, he doesn’t have to come to you, he just has to hear his name and eat a treat, even if you have to follow him around and say his name and feed him like a crazy person!)

Day 54 – Clicker

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

My timing isn’t great (video is unforgiving), but they are getting the idea.

Yesterday was affirmation of why I have started sending them home at 10 weeks instead of 8 weeks. Yellow girl Charlie and red girl Alfa, who’ve both been happy and confident all along, were worried about the paper bag I gave them to play with. Fear period. Today they are almost back to normal, but pink girl Golf, who’s consistently been one of the bravest of them all (and who was a maniac with the paper bag just yesterday), is worried about things today. Fear period.

Fear periods are very normal and can come and go quite quickly, but the wrong thing at the wrong time during a fear period can be a problem sometimes. Much better not to upend their entire world when there’s a statistically higher risk of a fear period! You can see pink being quite cautious and subdued in her clicker video below, when she was perfectly happy and reckless as is her usual personality yesterday. Fear periods can happen throughout their first two years according to some behaviorists. We used to think you should work through them but now most think you should just ignore them and they should normally just go away (and the risk of what’s called “single event learning”, which is where one bad experience can cause a significant and lasting issue, is higher during a fear period).

The paper bag:

You will see in pink girl’s clicker video that she is quite subdued, this is NOT normal for her, as anyone who’s been to visit them will attest, she’s normally an absolute lunatic (and look at her in the paper bag video taken just yesterday). Purple girl and red girl are also a little quieter than normal.

Red girl:

Orange boy:

Yellow girl:

Green boy:

Blue boy:

Purple girl:

Pink girl:

Barrier Challenge Day 41

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

We videoed their barrier challenges today. This helps them with frustration and problem solving. The first video for each has the puppy and the food very close to the same end of the barrier (the puppy can see and smell through the barrier). The second video has the puppy farther away from the food. Later we will place both the puppy and the food far away from the way around the barrier.

Alfa barrier challenge 1:

Alfa barrier challenge 2:

Bravo barrier challenge 1:

Bravo barrier challenge 2:

Charlie barrier challenge 1:

Charlie barrier challenge 2:

Delta barrier challenge 1:

Delta barrier challenge 2:

Echo barrier challenge 1:

Echo barrier challenge 2:

Foxtrot barrier challenge 1:

Foxtrot barrier challenge 2:

Golf barrier challenge 1:

Golf barrier challenge 2:

40 Days Old

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

What a busy week! Here’s what we did:

  • continued to have at least one new enrichment item every day (including an empty pop bottle, new toys, and an especially poignant toy – a present from Riley‘s family which was a new version of Riley’s favorite toy)
  • met new people including a very active toddler and a man with a huge beard
  • started working on a conditioned emotional response to nail grinding (feeding the puppies baby food, which they love, while they listen to and then feel the Dremel), they did spectacularly well at this! Nobody was too worried about it and everyone loved the baby food more than they cared about the Dremel
  • experienced SNOW!

34 Days Old!

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

I haven’t been blogging as much as usual because work is insane (we added a new doctor, which is amazing, but we aren’t yet adequately staffed for it, which is not). I’ve been working overtime and then basically I come home and do puppy stuff until bedtime. So I’ve been blogging in spurts and uploading video and photo dumps so you can at least see what’s going on!

What’s going on:

  • a couple of the puppies have entered their first fear period, which is normal at about this age. According to Puppy Culture, you should assume that the entire litter is in a fear period when one is, so we have adjusted things accordingly. We aren’t doing startle recovery (what happens in the house happens, but we aren’t purposefully startling them), we are minimizing anything which might frighten them while still providing new experiences daily
  • they get a new object or toy in the box every day, and we take out the old toys (they will count as new toys again after a few days). So far they’ve experienced all kinds of toys and textures from soft to rubbery to crackly, and they are starting to assume that everything in the world is something to explore
  • they are walking on all kinds of surfaces from wood to towels to carpet
  • they ventured out onto the deck yesterday
  • they come out for a “bomble” in the house several times a day, and are getting braver and braver about exploring new areas (this is also a leak test for our puppyproofing as we discovered this morning)
  • I introduced the clicker yesterday. I don’t normally “charge” the clicker when I’m training adult dogs, but I do think it’s helpful with baby puppies. “Charging the clicker” is teaching the dog to associate the click with the reward without a behavior, I don’t bother with this with most dogs because they figure out very quickly what the click means and sometimes I think omitting the behavior actually confuses them. For those who don’t know: clicker training is based on the principle of operant conditioning. The click marks a behavior and tells the dog that whatever they were doing when they heard the click earned them a reward. I have found it to be an extremely powerful training tool. We used tiny bits of Pill Pockets (they have a perfect texture for this) and shredded cheese. I take the puppy into another room so that the other puppies can’t hear the click
  • One thing Jane Killion points out in the Puppy Culture movie is something I think we don’t always realize: learning to eat food from a person’s hand is a skill in and of itself! I have been hand feeding the puppies some things for a while so they are getting the idea but…
  • Socializing them during COVID is a challenge but we’re doing pretty well! Yesterday they met a family who owns Alice’s brother, we know they have been extremely cautious and they came with their baby so now the puppies have met a baby. The big dogs were thrilled! During these brief socialization visits we all wear masks, stay far apart, and we put a fan in the window to circulate air. It makes it a bit chilly but it may help. We also discuss our exposure risk carefully beforehand. My work family has also been visiting.
  • Our house is a disaster! Having to move half the living room out to make room for the puppy pen, and having so little spare time right now that it all gets spent on the puppies means some things are falling by the wayside but it is what it is! Jim is being incredible as he always is, picking up poop and doing laundry and playing with puppies.
  • They’re eating the Royal Canin starter kibble really well, they’re getting three meals a day and I am already starting to feed them before Alice does to start taking the load off her. The litter Alice was born in were terribly slow to start eating but I think these guys will be weaned before too long.
  • I can’t wait to evaluate them and see what we have! I am already starting to get an idea of which puppy might fit where, but they change so much I don’t make any decisions yet! We have already seen two puppies change significantly over the last couple of weeks!
  • They are learning to speak dog very well from their interactions with the big dogs. Tish especially has been amazing with them. You will see in some of the videos in today’s huge video dump of videos from yesterday that there’s a lot of really nice and appropriate interaction. Every time we think Tish is being too much for them, we realize that the way they are reacting tells us that it’s just fine
  • They are so cute and sweet and they run over, tails wagging, crawl into your lap, beg to be picked up…I am going to cry a lot when they leave for their new homes. I love them.

Some Helpful Links

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Here are some links I think might be useful:

Puppy Culture Stories is Jane KIllion’s blog, there are some excellent articles on there. Especially this one about Socializing Puppies During The Coronavirus Pandemic

And here is the FREE course for puppy owners!

LOBO WRD!

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

A year ago, Lobo (Alkemi Beowulf del Roble LS UD PT FDC AX AXJ BCAT RATCH CGC TKA NDD) became the first Swedish Vallhund in history to earn the Water Dog title (this was in addition to his OTHER breed firsts, like being the first to earn the Open Barn Hunt title, and the first to earn drafting titles). This year, he became the first Swedish Vallhund in history to earn the Water Rescue Dog title.

Here’s what his owner Jan says:

“Lobo, WRD (Water Rescue Dog)

Thanks once again to the Colonial Newfoundland Club in accepting Lobo’s Senior level entry in their water test on August 15, 2020. Special thank you to John Caldwell and Carrie Joneckis for these pictures documenting Lobo’s title.

Lobo Watching Jan Get Set Up

The WRD Senior level exercises are . . .

DOUBLE RETRIEVE: A kayaker places a boat cushion & life jacket 50’ from shore and 50’ apart. The dog is required to go to the first article as directed by the judge, retrieve to hand, and then retrieve the second article to hand.

Double Retrieve (boat cushion)
Double Retrieve (life jacket)

RETRIEVE OFF A BOAT: Handler and dog board the boat and are rowed 75’ from shore. Handler throws the paddle at least 10’ from the boat and sends the dog to retrieve it to the handler on the boat.

Retrieve Off A Boat
Retrieve Off A Boat
Retrieve Off A Boat

TAKE A LIFE RING: Three people swim out 75’ from shore and 30’ apart. The dog is instructed to take a life ring to the distressed swimmer and tow swimmer to shore.

Take A Life Ring
Take A Life Ring
Take A Life Ring

UNDERWATER RETRIEVE: Handler and dog enter the water to elbow depth for the dog. Dog retrieves object thrown three feet and sinks immediately.

Underwater Retrieve
Underwater Retrieve

TAKE A LINE/TOW A BOAT: Dog takes a line to a boat that is 75’ from shore and close enough for the steward on the boat to grab the rope and then the dog tows the boat to shore.

Take A Line/Tow A Boat
Take A Line/Tow A Boat
Take A Line/Tow A Boat
Take A Line/Tow A Boat
Take A Line/Tow A Boat
Take A Line/Tow A Boat

RESCUE: Dog and handler board boat and are rowed 75’ from shore. Handle goes into the water and calls dog to come to the rescue. Dog then tows handler to shore.

Rescue
Rescue
Rescue
Rescue
Lobo WRD

(Lobo is from the Tempest x Nina litter, and is Zhora’s brother)

UPDATE: VIDEO!!!

Lobo waiting to get started:

1 Retrieve 1:

2 Retrieve 2:

3 Retrieve off a boat:

4 Take a life ring:

5 Underwater retrieve:

6 Take a line/tow a boat:

7 Rescue:

Alice Training

Friday, August 7th, 2020

I’m really happy with her! You can tell we’ve been working the dogwalk a lot since it’s got a lot of value for her right now.

3:

4:

5:

6:

PACH NINA!!!

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Today, at the Olean Kennel Club trial at Countryside Agility in Erie, Nina became Can CH MACH PACH Vastgota Nina Ricci MXG MJC MXP2 MXPB MJP3 MJPB XF T2B3!!!

I have been so very fortunate to have this amazing little dog to play this game with. She brings 110% to the line every time, even when I don’t (and she lets me know if I mess up). Nina was made for agility, it is her very favorite thing, and I am so happy she is still able to run fast and happy and sassy at 13. It is an honor to have her as my best friend and a joy to have her as my teammate and I treasure every run with her, Q or NQ. She is such a special dog in so many ways.

It was so awesome to earn her PACH under our friend and favorite judge Sherry Jefferson! And at a suggestion from Glenn and Rebecca, we did a social distancing PACH picture:

The day I stole her from Ulla was one of the best days of my life. Because of Nina, I know so many people I wouldn’t know otherwise. Because of Nina, I’ve gone places and done things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. She is my Ninabean, and there will never be another Nina. Thank you for the privilege of your efforts my Tiny Bean, I love you. 

Nina Jumpers (part 1 of PACH):

Nina Standard (PACH NINA!):

PACH celebration (the video got stopped and then started again so we didn’t get the celebratory elbow bump with Sherry unfortunately, but we DID get the celebratory hip-bump with Sue!):

Zhora Jumpers (QQ #131, second place, 19 points, 5 YPS):

Zhora Standard (QQ #131, first place, 30 points, 3.89 YPS):

Alice Open Standard (NQ but some really nice bits!):

Alice Open Jumpers (NQ):

Alice Training

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

Just some Alice videos. Video has been extremely useful for me, both in training and in trialing.

1:

2:

3: