Good Day at DOCNA

Well, back from the DOCNA trial. As it’s after 9pm I’ve been back for a while, and the muscles are starting to stiffen up. 🙂 But that’s okay, it was a fun day. I do wish I could run Levi and Chase both well at the same trial. Today was Levi’s day. He got 3 out of 4 Qs. Two Standard and One Jumpers. Chase only got One Q, in Snakes and Ladders. He is strong in that, though. The Gamblers I messed up because I wasn’t sure about my course. And the Standard he was blowing his contacts so we trained instead.

Muffit did pretty well.. though most of the day he was wide awake and very over stimulated. Not until about 2pm did he start to settle down. He will stay home tomorrow, one day was definitely enough for him.

Tatum did great, she slept most of the day and come out to play and work occasionally. I walked her over to another building where they were doing obedience and conformation fun matches… and that made her nervous but she didn’t die, and later she was fine again.

Levi went through the obedience fun match and did great! I was impressed and we used minimal treats. So.. I’ll be entering him in ASCA obedience this summer to see how he does and get that CD. I took Chase though too, and he needed a treat on his target stick to pay attention to me. It is still hard for him but we are working on it.

The dogs are now very tired and sleeping. The Mum is also tired, and will be sleeping shortly!

Clicking that Rear End

In my continuing pursuit of finding a reliable, solid, positive way to clicker train the flyball box, Tatum is being my experimental dog. She is so smart. She is doing great with her mat. I’ve changed the criteria so now she has to lie down on the mat, as I want that to be her default behavior. She’s getting it. The look on her face when she stands on the mat and gets no click is just priceless. 🙂 She is figuring out that criteria changes, gets harder!

She is reliably pawing my hands now. And, of course, she’s using that behavior to try to get anything else, too. So that is going to have to go on cue very soon, so it ALWAYS happens on cue, and ONLY happens on cue. You know dogs and their feet. Just like us monkeys sometimes!

She is also reliably touching a white piece of cardboard with her front feet. She’s getting both on, though slightly, as it’s small. I need to find a phone book. We just usually throws ours away now and use the internet to find phone numbers.

I really want her to have exceptional rear-end awareness. And so I have a special toy (it was all I could find last night) that I put up to her back hips and click/treat. So she knows that the toy (I need a good unique stick with a shape on it to do this, really) touching her hip gets a reaction. Eventually, though it might take a while, I want her to move her hip toward the target so she knows she is moving that back end for her reward.

I’m also clicking and treating her for when I touch her feet, all four of them. This, of course, will not only be useful for flyball, but also for obedience and trimming those darn toenails, which she hates so much. Last night she was starting to hold still for me as I touched a foot. Sometimes I would lift it off the ground, sometimes not. Before I would C/T for only when I touched them, didn’t matter if she moved away. Now I’m only C/T when she doesn’t move away. And she’s catching on. And she’s not dying when her feet are touched. 🙂

What I’ll do after she has that rear-end awareness is get her to touch a foot target with her back foot on the ground. And then I can put it up on the box, and maybe pair it with the front foot touch. Probably I’ll do this on the flat first… front foot touch, rear foot touch, click treat. When she is dong that, up on the flyball box it will go. And I want her high on that box. And pushing off with her rear.

I have confidence this is going to work. It might be slow, but she’s not built like a border collie and she’s really going to need that rear end push off on the box. She’s my smooth collie girl, and I’m really having fun shaping this with her. And she is too. Last night, she didn’t want training to stop!

He’s Been Through Too Much

Muffit 2005 Our Muffit boy has been through too many changes. My husband has told me we are keeping him. Well, at least my husband can’t get mad at me for keeping a dog without me asking him! 🙂

I was looking through my old backed up pictures from my old server, and I found this picture of him. It was under the folder named Leopard. Which brings back more memories… he originally was named Leopard, and his family loved him enough to have this very nice picture taken of him. But they had to give him up, I don’t remember why, and he went to another home and was named Wheatie.

Then he came to us.. again I don’t remember why they couldn’t keep him. We fostered him, he went to the other home and they named him Shiloh… and they are the ones who dumped this sweet border collie boy at the Humane Society of Utah.

And back he is again with us. Don’t ask him how to lose weight because he is too good at it. He is still sick, and he doesn’t seem like he’s getting much better. Now we will keep him. His name will be Muffit. He has been moved around so much, the poor guy must be confused and miserable. He sleeps a lot, but he loved his walk this morning. He’ll learn flyball, and I’m sure he’ll love it. 🙂

As the poem says.. if you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you… then you should keep the darn pup! 😉

Green Dog Seminar!

Touch n Go, the flyball club in Las Vegas giving the seminar in March, just announced they are also having a Puppy / Green Dog seminar on the Friday before! Yay! I sent in my entry fees and I’m going to bring Tatum. Woo Hoo. I’m excited. Not only will Chase get some good instruction, Tatum will too!

And I was all set to leave her home. I am glad she can come with. And I’m especially glad that she gets to be a part of the seminar. I just sent the check off today, they should get it Wednesday, and hopefully we’ll get a working slot. If not, I would audit that class. But I’d rather have a working slot. Tatum will be one of the very few collies in flyball. I think there are only 3 in U-FLI, and not too many more in NAFA.

So now we have to find some good discount hotels Las Vegas style. That, of course, take dogs. Still not sure where the seminar is, yet, but we want to get on it soon because the sooner we book them, the better a price we get.

I’m excited!!!

The Missing Element in Training

Since my post about Cesar Milan a while ago, and the comments I received on it, I wanted to post again. Not about Cesar… really. But about one of the comments (maybe more than one of them).

Someone said that Cesar is more a dog psychologist than a dog trainer. I have said, for as long as I have been around dogs… okay for as long as I’ve been around dogs as an adult.. since my early 20s, that whenever I am with a dog, I am training that dog. And from what I understood, it seems a number of people believe that dog training and dog psychology are mutually exclusive.

I beg to disagree. I think that they are intertwined. So much so that you cannot have one without the other when you are dealing with dogs.

Sure you can teach a dog to sit, down, stay, heel… you can teach a dog obedience, agility, flyball, herding, tracking… and any of the other dog sports out there. And this is all training. However, if you want to really have a good working relationship with your dog, and you want a dog that performs well and likes to work, you have to understand that dog’s behavior. The dog’s psychology.

On the other hand, you can understand a dog’s behavior up the wazoo, but in order to get a well mannered dog, either a house companion or a working dog, you have to incorporate training into the interaction you have with the dog.

I have done agility for over four years now. I am just barely starting to do serious obedience training. If you have followed my training with Chase, my border collie, you’ll know all about the trials and tribulations I’ve had with him. He knows all the agility contacts. He knows his job. He knows how to jump and how to weave and how to run through a tunnel (he especially knows how to ignore me completely and head for the tunnel all the way on the other end of the course). But a very huge piece of his ‘training’ was missing. And that was the behavioral part. Knowing why he does what he does… his drive, his motivation. Knowing that he lacked drive shaping and focus, and that he has a high sex drive, these things are critical when training him.

It seems to me that many, many people in competition events nowadays don’t understand the behavioral aspect of training. Understanding your dog, your individual companion and partner, is critical to the training experience. Having a dog that can think, and listen to you, and focus on his job.. these things are so important that I cannot express it in words. Without the behavior piece with Chase, without understanding his psychology, we never would have restarted our forward progress in dog training. Even in socialization, as he tends to not be good with some other dogs.

So really, to say that Cesar is a dog psychologist and not a dog trainer is something I disagree with. I believe he is both. I still don’t like his methods, though.

I look at dogs completely differently than I did only a year ago. Instead of just looking at their training I look at what their person has done, or hasn’t done, to shape their behavior, too. It’s fascinating. I love it. I want to spend more time doing it. Maybe after I retire I will be able to.

I want my dogs to have every opportunity to succeed. And, of course, I want to succeed, too. And now I have many more tools with which I can do this. And it’s fun!