Jet’s Obedience Training

Since going to the Denise Fenzi obedience seminar I have some ideas for training Jet. I’ll be applying them to Chase, too, but Jet is my primary focus, Chase has a natural drive that can carry him through a trial. Jet doesn’t. So I’m reassessing Jet’s training. This weekend I did some different things to try to scientifically understand what is going on.

Denise is a motivational trainer. She isn’t a clicker trainer, but does occasionally use markers. She’s not a compulsion trainer. I kinda think she just fits into her own category. I’m not going full-on clicker training with Jet. But I’m going to do motivational training. No compulsion. But I’ll remove reinforcers if that works best. There are consequences to not working. But I won’t use pain, either.

Jet’s problem is he works beautifully with treats. He falls into heel, head up, nice focus, sits on the halts. But when I don’t have treats, then he doesn’t work. So this weekend I took him to an obedience trial. He was in Beginner Novice and Rally Novice on Saturday, and Beginner Novice on Sunday. He Qualified in all his runs, but his work was not what I want. And if any of it had been off leash, he would have wandered off or sniffed like he’s done in previous trials. I want him to work regardless of the leash. And I want him to want to work. I want him to enjoy working and interacting with me. And I will admit, I don’t subscribe to the belief that if you keep taking them into the ring, eventually they’ll just figure it out and work. I think they’ll learn bad ring habits and will end up getting worse.

When I was warming him up I didn’t use treats. In the past I would have whipped out the treats to get his attention. I don’t want to do that anymore, because I can’t bring treats into the ring. So when we warmed up he didn’t seem to know what to do. Either 1) he doesn’t understand, 2) he’s nervous, or 3) he is holding out for treats. (A friend suggested – maybe he doesn’t understands he’s supposed to sit regardless of the distractions.) (If there are any other options of what the reason may be, I will really appreciate comments!)

I would tell him to sit, and he just stared at me like he didn’t understand. I told him a second time, he still looked at me. I leaned down and said sit in a more sturdy tone, and he sat. Three times to respond to a sit cue is not acceptable.

I don’t really think he was nervous. Maybe he is. Maybe I’m a bad handler because I’m not completely sure if he’s nervous or not. But when I did eventually get out the treats, he fell right into heel and sat on cue. So I’m thinking, with Jet, he either doesn’t understand, or he’s holding out. I’m leaning toward thinking that he’s holding out.

I’m not going to start with the sit or the heeling when I train. Or any exercises. What I’m going to start with is getting him to enjoy working just for and with me. Below is a video example of Jet not playing with me, or even responding to me, when the environment is too stimulating. This is from Saturday, I took him outside to see if he’d just play. I didn’t get any treats out. I wanted to see how he’d respond. As you can see, he basically ignored me and air scented. Old instincts kicked in and I walked him over to see if we could see what was up, though Denise said that may be a bad idea. And it didn’t do Jet any good anyway. And really he wouldn’t be able to ever visit whatever it was, so probably I shouldn’t have taken him there:

Outside Training

Here is a video of training and warming up indoors. He’s better, but he still frequently looks away from me. I want constant steady attention. Those who have done or watched the high level competition obedience will know what I mean when I say I want his complete focus. I didn’t get it here with play. I would have gotten it with treats:

Inside Training

So I’m going to start with some play and focus work in my front yard.

The plan is, go out the front door, see what his attention is like. If it’s not what I want, we go back inside and he lost the opportunity to work. Then we try again in 30 minutes or so.

Jet really does love to work. He loves to play and interact. But usually when we go out the front door, he thinks we are going for a ride or for a walk so it’ll be interesting to see what I get. It might be a hard environment. I could do this in the back yard, but he is comfortable and likes to play in the back yard… however, if we consistently have less than I want out front, I’ll go out back.

So that is the first step. Front door, play, see what I get. I won’t use any treats. I may use some toys, depending on what I get.

Then I’ll move this same routine to a park or a ring setup. Take him out of the crate, if he interacts with me and works, cool. If not, back in crate, he lost the opportunity to work.

Of course if this doesn’t really work, then I may have to reassess again. I am not going to use treats. I’ll video our sessions so I can see what works and what doesn’t. I need to break this down. I need Jet to play and interact with me. Can’t bring anything into the ring but me and Jet. So if we don’t have a good play routine between the two of us, we are screwed in the ring. And I don’t want a dog that wanders off or sniffs. Jet is capable of really beautiful work. I just need to make sure that the play and the work are both rewarding for him. I want him to be happy while we do it!

If you are interested here’s Jet’s runs from Saturday:
Beg Novice, 186 1/2
Beginning Novice

Rally Novice 82. I thought it was a fair score.
Rally Novice

I didn’t get Sunday’s Beginner Novice on video. He did better, but still not what I want. He got a 191 on Sunday, which I also thought was a fair score.

So if anyone is interested I’ll be documenting Jet’s training over the next while, and hopefully things will work! 🙂 I’ll put all these up with the tag Jet Obedience.

Denise Fenzi’s Awesome Obedience Seminar

Jet and Dare
Jet and Dare
I’m back from Colorado Springs and the Denise Fenzi Seminar. Wow. I got a ton of information and was able to video some of Jet working, too. Jet was a good boy. Silly goof that he is, he’s a clown, and people can’t help just loving him. I just adore him too.

Denise is one of the very few purely positive, motivational competition obedience trainers in the entire country. As a few of us sat around at dinner, we came up with a couple of other names but now I don’t even remember who they are. And I’m talking about Competition Obedience… not just dog trainers or clicker trainers etc. Most competition obedience people still use correction methods thrown in here and there. I have too, but I really want to do what Denise does instead. She is amazing at how well she can come up with ideas to solve problems in training.

One of the biggest things that is sticking with me from the seminar is how so many people are not ring ready for obedience. They train with toys and treats then one day decide to compete and they haven’t done any training without toys or treats or corrections and they expect the dogs to perform well in the ring. Well, that’s not my experience. LOL. She said she even has had a class that is for being Ring Ready. Six weeks of setting up a ring, and all you do is enter the ring, play play play, then leave. So the dogs know that going into the ring is a good happy thing. What to do when you walk into the ring. Have an idea and a plan. Make it happy. I got some good ideas of what to do with Jet.

Basically Jet gets stressed in the ring, so I want to change that. So my plan will be to walk him into the ring, then whip out his new toy and play. Then leave. Do that a couple of times. Then go into the ring, maybe do a dumbbell retrieve, play play, then leave. Then add another exercise that he likes, play play, then leave. So every time we go into the ring it’s a really good experience. Add some “ready… ready… ready…” during and after heeling, to get his excitement up. Do push backs and run. Lots of play and having a good time.

I can even do portions of these things in competition. Like at the end of a heeling pattern, after the judge says Exercise Finished, I can say “ready… ready…” then burst into a run and run to the next exercise. Or do a push back and a touch high. Things to keep him up and happy. It’ll be fun to try. I am probably going to try a couple of these things this coming weekend, as for some weird reason I entered him in Beginner Novice, even though I don’t think we are quite ready. But it’ll be a challenge to me to see what I can do to keep his mood up and keep him happy.

I hope I took good notes, I haven’t looked at all of them yet. Maybe I need a clevis pin to keep them clipped together. I did get some video but I won’t share it. Denise asked us not to, and so that’s okay with me. I’m just glad I have it for my own benefit as I train in the future.

I also entered Chase in Grad Open and that should be fun. Chase is naturally higher in drive so hopefully he’ll be okay through all the exercises. I don’t know if he’ll Q, but it’ll be fun to be in Grad Open and see how he does.

I’m still thinking of a collie puppy, too, and running through my mind the things I can do for foundation work on a new puppy.

On a sad note, tomorrow, March 23rd, will be one month since Levi died. Ugh. time flies. I’m still not used to him being gone at home. I still miss him very much.

Going to Denise Fenzi

Jet Running
Jet Running
So this coming weekend I have another seminar. It’s in Colorado Springs, which is about a 10 hour drive from me. Jet has a working slot in a Denise Fenzi obedience seminar. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. I really hope we can learn some good things. I really love Denise’s blog and I’ve been reading it for a while now. And I need something to pick me up, as I’m still pretty down from Levi dying. I’ll be talking about that for a long time, I think.

I hope the weather is good for the drive, too. It’s supposed to be rainy, but not snowy. I need to bring another pen and pad of paper, I wasn’t prepared at the Chris Zink seminar. I better write those down and stop at the store. I also need some snacks.

This picture of Jet is one of my favorites. It’s actually clear and in focus, and he’s having such a great time at the park. I put this picture on one of my stainless steel watches that I got from a company that lets you upload and put pictures on things. I really like the watch… though it’s hard to see the hands to tell the time. I sure can see my sweet boy Jet easiliy!

Chris Zink Seminar

A couple of weekends ago I went to a Chris Zink Seminar in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was exceptionally good. I am pretty iffy about seminars. Many of them I don’t like. I don’t really have a good attention span for sitting and listening for hours on end. I really don’t like taking computer or work related classes anymore, they just bore me to death and put me to sleep. So I really like it when I find a seminar that is entertaining and interesting both at the same time.

Chris Zink was very interesting to listen to. She was funny and energetic and had a lot of good information. I do like dog information a lot better than computer information anymore.

Just a brief overview of what she went over… She said that the dogs’ sex hormones are very important. She prefers to leave all dogs intact, or with alternative sterilization methods. She has done studies, and was showing other information, that intact dogs tend to be prone to less injuries. And the old belief that dogs’ personalities became more mellow or less aggressive when spayed or neutered is actually incorrect. The information she showed told that dogs spayed and neutered actually tend to show more aggression and more behavioral problems. And the younger they are spayed and neutered, the worse the problems can be. Interesting. Jet is intact, and I’ll be leaving him that way. If I did anything I’d get him a vasectomy. Chris Zink said there are ways to remove a female dog’s uterus only, and leave the ovaries, so that they still get their sex hormones that are really good things. From all my PMS problems over my life, I believe that the sex hormones are important.

Chris Zink also said that a dog’s front dew claws are very valuable when it comes to performance sports, and just life in general. They actually use them a lot more than we realize. I prefer to have dew claws left on all my dogs. Unless they become torn or are floppy rear ones that may be dangerous. But then I prefer the dogs to all be natural and have what they are born with.

She also went over a lot of structure, so I think I can see a dog’s angulation better now. Especially the rear. The front I still can’t see so much. She talked about over angulation and how that can also be bad, like German Shepherd Dogs who are over angulated in the rear and it makes them less stable. So angulation is a good thing only to a certain extent.

The second day we did many jumping exercises and that was a lot of fun to watch. From the new dogs that have never done sports, to the advanced agility dogs. It’s all in her Jumping Books, which I own, and really should read more of. 🙂

All in all I really enjoyed the seminar and I think I learned a lot and I would go again if I could. Though I’d prefer more and different information. And the drive wasn’t too bad, only about 5 hours from Salt Lake City, UT, to Grand Junction Colorado. With a stop to pick up a friend of mine. It’s always more fun to travel with her.

This is just a brief overview. I’m still pretty miserable about losing Levi. I’ve been trying not to think about him much. I have a house in my mind I go to whenever I start thinking too much or getting down. I think it helps. I haven’t been eating much either, though I have been eating sugar. I always eat bad when I feel rotten. If there weren’t so many diet pill side effects I might consider those. But really I just need to eat more vegetables, and stay away from the bread and ice cream. But the bread and ice cream are so much more comforting than vegetables.

I don’t know how long it will take me to get over Levi… but I just miss his face. His sweet loving happy face. I miss everything about him. My heart aches for my Levi.

New Spring

Bleeding Hearts
Bleeding Hearts
Well life goes on. I’m still having a hard time getting through the days. Been hiding it well, though, I think. I’m actually really weird, I’m either totally a mess and too much in pain to even feel it, or I’m kinda numb, or I’m actually better than I have been with the other dogs. Or all three. I just don’t know, it’s really weird.

I miss Levi with all my heart. I never wanted to post about Levi dying. How can Levi be gone? He was my heart dog… I do think Jet is becoming a heart dog too, but right now I just miss Levi. I miss his woofing at the top of the fridge for bones. I miss the weight of him pushed up against me at night in bed. I miss lifting him into the car. I just miss everything about him. He was such a good baby boy.

I am still thinking about a puppy. I did want a girl collie puppy, but now I’m thinking boy. I just love the boy energy and the boy goofiness in the collies. I know I will never replace Levi. He will always be one of a kind. I just would like some boy collie energy again. Tatum is doing well at holding up the girl part of the pack. She sure has attitude. I think she misses Levi too, more than the other dogs. She’s been more shy and upset lately. Jet seems oblivious. And the border collies… they don’t seem to mind one way or the other. But Tatum seems upset.

It’s too weird only having four dogs. The house seems very empty.