Tag: Training

Wintery Training

Jet and Cookies
Well it’s that time of year for sure. Snow is on the ground, and it’s wet and icky outside. So I have had to move my training indoors. Fortunately we got a lot of training in last summer. I think Jet and Tatum both have a really good handle on agility, and next year they are both going to be competing on a regular basis. I suspect that Jet will move up in the ranks faster than Tatum. But I’ll be proud of them both no matter how they do!

So the indoor training goals for this winter include the following….
1. Scent Articles for Jet and Chase: They are both doing really well when there is cheese or some sort of food on the bit, but when it’s gone, they aren’t doing so well. So I’m going to clicker train the scented articles with both the boys, so they understand what they are supposed to be doing. I’m getting this from Clicker Training for Obedience by Morgan Spector. I like the book, and I think it’ll work well for them.
2. Send to the Back of the Jump: Doing this just with Jet. He needs to learn the skill of being sent to the back of a jump, then coming around to jump it towards me. It does seem this is getting more common in trials. It’s a skill we need and he’s catching on fast.
3. K9 Nose Work Boxes etc: Working this with all the dogs! They love it. Moving from boxes to other obstacles like chairs and stuff too. I also hope to put the scents in this too soon. Birch, Anise, and Clove.
4. Back Up: Jet still doesn’t know how to go backwards. The rest of my dogs do, so this is on the list to teach him!

And hmm… now I forget what else is on my list that’s stuck on the fridge in the kitchen. But those articles are going to take some time, I think. And they are fun! Maybe I need go get some document scanning going so I can make copies of my training list and put one at work too.

Oh and this picture? This is jet ‘helping’ us make Christmas Sugar Cookies yesterday. He’s such a goof. It was really hard for him not to eat all that dough, even though I told him he’d get super sick! 🙂

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Do You Teach Sequencing?

Jet at the Beach
Jet at the Beach
Jet at the Beach

I am just curious. I’ve heard it time and time again. When teaching a new dog agility, don’t teach sequencing. Start on short sequences not more than about six jumps (or obstacles) in a row.

I don’t understand this and I’ll tell you why. Chase, my BC, is great at short sequences of about six to eight jumps. After that, I lose him.  I can’t keep up with him and my brain starts getting fried.  So all the time I spent in his foundation training just doing very short sequences has, I think, hurt my handling with him.

Plus, I want a dog to realize that when we do agility, we do a long sequence of obstacles. With Tatum… she now starts to poop out on me after about obstacle 8 or 9.  I have been giving her treats as a reward about half way through the course, then we go on. I’ll keep extending the number of obstacles we do slowly, so eventually she’ll just get rewarded at the end of a 12 or 14 obstacle (novice) course.

I understand that when you start any new training skills, like crosses or serpentines, you’ll want to start with short sequences.  So you can give the dog the information he needs in order to learn the skill.  I definitely do that.  But once they understand the skill, I want to put that skill into a longer sequence so they understand that they come up in a long line of obstacles. The skill is not just an isolated event.

Jet has just about gotten his obstacles down. I’m still proofing them, and will do that with short sequences, or the obstacles alone.  But I want to start to compete with him next spring.  And I want him to understand that agility means you do a long line of obstacles in a row, with certain turns and skills stuck in the middle. I want him to learn forward focus for a course-length worth of obstacles.  I don’t want to get stuck with Jet like I have gotten with Chase, unable to really go beyond an 8 or 9 obstacle course!

I know I’m unorthodox in my training. I don’t train a dog to be frantically high for flyball. I teach them to think about that box, get their rear feet up.  I believe that if the dog can learn to do it slow, they can learn to do it fast.  The speed will come later.  Maybe Chase has just corrupted me.  I’ve had to work extra hard to get his focus and attention. To get him to think and listen.  Instead of be so high that he just barrels through courses and knocks bars and doesn’t understand that this really IS a team sport, and he has to listen to me too.

I also think one of the most difficult part of agility is the spaces between the obstacles.  The silence between the notes… I don’t remember where I heard that.  🙂  But handling between obstacles is important too. And putting them in sequence is, for me, a very important skill that I want to get going here pretty soon with Jet.  I don’t want to only practice 6 or 8 obstacle sequences then throw him in a trial that has twice that many.

Oh, and another picture from the beach on this snowy day. LOL

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Levi and K9 Nose Work

`Jet and Levi at the Park
`Jet and Levi at the Park

So Levi and I went to our first K9 Nose Work class. It was fun! Levi was a dork. He thinks that barking at people gets him the most treats, so that’s what he spend most of his time doing. LOL. So I might modify the technique just a bit for him. 😉 Set him up for a bit more success so he understands the value of the boxes. Basically in the first class the teacher scattered a bunch of empty boxes around. And the dogs are supposed to find the value of the boxes themselves… well I like to give the dogs a bit more information at first. So I just used three boxes at home. And all of my dogs picked up that there are treats in a box pretty fast. Levi just needs to learn the value of the boxes, and he’ll do that pretty fast. Once he understands the idea.

I even did it with Lucy at home, our megaesophagus dog. She can eat treats once in a while as long as we feed her afterward and put her in her chair so the treats go down. She was the best at it. LOL but she is a treat maniac and any time she can find food, she will.

Chase was silly. He tried picking up a box in his mouth, like it was a dumbbell. 🙂 Yup he’s too trained. LOL. So I had to jiggle the boxes more for him. He was finding the treats quickly though, so he’ll understand you just have to find the treats in the box. That’s it for now. He has a problem in Rally-Obedience too. He thinks he should interact with the signs. =P

Jet and Tatum also did good. Tatum wasn’t quite sure the boxes had any value at all. But she caught on. Jet was good from the get go, checking out those silly boxes on the floor.

I’ll work with them all more. Why not. Good thing to do in the winter and who knows who’ll be able to pass the test? Maybe even Lucy can! I should keep track of their progress in my Samsung phone to see how they are doing. But I usually get too lazy, and just have fun with it. 🙂

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The Critical Importance of Foundation Work

Jet Flyball Training
Jet Flyball Training
Jet Flyball Training

Well as this is posted on my blog I’m doing flyball with Chase. And hopefully Jet gets to do some run-backs and even some full lanes. I hope so. He’s such a good boy.

Flyball practice last weekend was really making me think about, and appreciate, the importance of foundation training with puppies. Most of my dogs are rescues… and Lucy and Levi, who are not rescues but didn’t get any foundation training at all, show the difference between a puppy trained as soon as he steps into my house, as opposed to a dog that was not given any foundation training at all.

It’s a world of difference.

From getting Jet at 11 weeks old, I started obedience and agility foundation training. Focus work, having him pay attention to me and having fun with me. I have never gone to the lengths of wanting him to only work with me, though. On the contrary, I love it when he works for other people as well. But I want him to know that training and work is a lot of fun! I wish work was as fun for me! From basic heeling to basic jump training, contact board training, retreiving, and other fun things you can do with a puppy, I’ve convinced him that it’s all fun!

And so now when we learn something new, like flyball… and I really haven’t worked much flyball with him, because of all the foundation training… now with something new, he’s awesome, focused, and just a darn right good boy! Foundation training. It’s awesome. Unfortunately it helps when you have a well bred healthy smart puppy, too. If you get a rescue, you’ll have more of a challenge. Of course if you have another breed, you’ll probably have more of a challenge. But Jet, being a Danish-Swedish Farmdog, an absolutely remarkable breed, from an awesome breeder, just helps is so many ways!

I do wish my work was as fun, and I wish finding best way to lose weight was also fun, but alas… dog training is just more fun!

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Temperament Testing

Handsome Jet
Handsome Jet
Handsome Jet

Yesterday I took Jet to a Tracking Seminar (day 2 of a two day seminar) in Farmington, Utah. It was during the German Shepherd Dog National Specialty. So not only did they have this tracking seminar going on, they also had conformation, herding, and a bunch of GSDs up there. They also were putting on a Temperament Test and, it was open to all breeds! I was excited because I have wanted to have Jet go through a Temperament Test for a long time now so I was glad we finally had the opportunity.

In Sweden they have a test called the Mentality Test. They usually perform this test when the dog is about 2 years old. As far as I can tell, the only thing we have here that is even similar to the Mentality Test is this TT, or Temperament Test. There is an organization here in the USA that performs these tests called the American Temperament Test Society – ATTS. The GSDCA’s test was very similar to the ATTS test, and I think based off the ATTS test. Anyway, Jet was able to take the GSDCA version, and he passed with flying colors!

If you would like to read more about the stations in the test, please click here for Temperament Test Station Descriptions. I’m not going to retype it all, because there is too much typing. But I’ll sum-up how Jet did.

Click here for Jet’s scores, descriptions and results.

We first approach a stranger and the dog is judged on how he reacts. Well Jet was busy sniffing the grass. LOL. Then another stranger calls to the dog, and Jet thought that was really fun so he went up to that person and was friendly. Next we approach a person who is behind a blind, and has a shaker can. Jet was startled by the noise but curious and wanted to go investigate (Jet was scored a 1, but I think he really should have gotten a 2. He didn’t need much encouragement).

Then there is a gun test. Jet was very startled by the gun, and didn’t want to go check it out, but he recovered very quickly.

Next we walked toward a person who suddenly flipped open an umbrella. Jet was startled by this too, but recovered quite fast. I was able to tap the umbrella and he went up to sniff it and recovered very well.

Then Jet had to walk over a plastic tarp, and over an x-pen, lying flat in the grass. He did fine and didn’t seem to mind walking over either.

The last test consisted of three points. We walked to a spot and out came a very strange person in a black cape, waving her arms and talking loudly and carrying on. Jet got a 3 on all of the scores for this test. His tail went completely erect and his hackles went up, and he went to the end of the leash to alert about this danger and investigate. The judge said he hardly ever gives 3s, and he gave Jet 3s on these points! I was proud of my boy. He did exactly what he was supposed to do!

The judge said Jet did better on the overall test than many of the German Shepherd Dogs do! And everyone there was very interested in watching a Danish-Swedish Farmdog go through the test. No one had ever met his breed before and they all loved him! Of course… hehe.

Jet is an amazing boy, for sure! No one in the test was wearing any lingerie… which was good, because I wouldn’t have wanted to see it! 🙂 But Jet did awesome. Oh, and he also did great at the tracking. We didn’t track much, it was a seminar about VST tracking (Variable Surface Tracking) which is done on asphalt, concrete and grass. But I’ll post more about that later. I had more fun with the Temperament Test than I did the tracking seminar. =P But I’m not really all that crazy about seminars anyway. Too much sitting around listening to someone and trying not to fall asleep.

Oh, and hopefully I’ll get video of his whole test. A friend took video, I just have to remember to get it from her!

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