An Obedience Training Log for Jet

Okay… so I’ve been considering doing some sort of training log forever. I hate training logs. I’m really bad at writing things down and keeping track of my training. It’s not just dog training. It’s actually all kinds of logging. When I was a kid I actually journaled a lot. I have tons and tons of notepads in boxes in my basement of old journals from my late teens and early twenties. Maybe someday I’ll go back and read them all, and laugh at how dorky I was… but maybe I won’t. Guess we’ll see. Maybe they’ll just all get thrown away since we don’t have kids and no one will care after I die.

Anyway dying is neither here nor there. LOL. Back to the training log. I love Google Docs. I use Google Docs for everything. I have tons of spreadsheets in there with various things, tracking the dogs’ weights, their registration numbers, bank account information (nothing that will get you my bank account numbers though lol), packing lists, etc. I love sharing the packing lists with the friend I usually travel with, makes collaborating on packing dog junk a lot easier!

So I’ve been experimenting with Jet’s obedience training lately, and finally decided to keep a training log. So here it is, and it’s on Google Docs, and you can’t edit it, but you can view it. Granted there’s not much in there right now since I’ve only just started it. But here it is:

Jet’s Training Log

I thought about embedding it into a blog post but then though naw, the link should be fine. Of course it’ll only be as useful as I make it, and if I use it, so we’ll see if I can keep using it. I get lots of anxiety associated with doing things on a regular basis, so we’ll see. I’d like to make some charts out of it too but I haven’t figured out how yet.

I’ve been doing some obedience training on my own mainly because when I train with someone else, I tend to shut my brain down and not think on my own. This also goes for other things in my life.. work is one of them. If someone leads me, I’ll just follow and do what I’m told. Sometimes I need to be more aware of what my own actions are, what reinforcers I’m using, and to do that I have to do things on my own. And hopefully this tracking sheet will help me see trends and other things. So Jet and I have been working on various things with toys and play instead of treats, and I’ve gotten some good information about what Jet will work for and what he won’t. I have some video, but I haven’t uploaded it. I get shy about talking about what I’m doing, so sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and I just haven’t been all to chatty lately.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be changing that spreadsheet over time, but it’s what I have now.

Chase and Grad Open

Well it was my first time ever in any type of Utility type ring last weekend. Chase was in Graduate Open, one of the new non-regular AKC obedience classes. It was really fun, even though I messed him up a bit on Saturday. He still took the wrong jump on the directed jumping so would have NQ even without me. 🙂 He’s a dork, and he does that every now and then. Leftover from agility when he’d just blow me off, I’m sure. Here’s Saturday’s Video. I don’t have Sunday.

He was a good boy. He actually performed about what I expected. We are super close to getting a Grad Open Q I think. Maybe I’ll buy myself some netbook computers when he gets a title… or even a leg, for that matter. I don’t do as much obedience as I do agility. And I hesitate putting him into an obedience trial when there is agility at the same place, he may lose his silly mind. 🙂

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 for Non-Reg Obedience

Playing in the Snow
Playing in the Snow
Well, I’m going to do it. We have a three day AKC obedience trial the end of March. I’m not going to do all three days, since I have to work Friday, and I’m taking off most of that week already for a Denise Fenzi seminar in Colorado Springs. But anyway… my obedience instructor reminded me of the new non-reg obedience classes, especially Graduate Open. And so… I entered Chase on Saturday and Sunday. I’m nervous! It’s all like Utility but a bit simplified. I hope he can do it all. His weakest things are signals from far away without verbals (Grad Open allows verbals and is closer). He’s also fairly iffy at go-outs, but the go-outs are from between the jumps, not clear across the ring. I don’t trust his directed jumping yet, he can blow me off like he did in agility, so we’ll see about that. And I’m not sure about his articles… but he’s getting better.

Dang, that’s a lot to be unsure about. LOL. I go back and forth from day to day thinking he’ll get it, to he won’t get it. I guess going in the ring is the test. It’ll be kinda fun, I think. And why the heck not. 🙂

I’m putting Jet in Beginner Novice. Which is all on leash, so I think he’ll be okay. Though I still think he’ll get nervous and I don’t know what to really do about that. I’ve been working on keeping him happy and playing games, but the ring… well, we have an ASCA obedience trial in Feb and I can get him in Rent A Ring again, so hopefully that’ll help. It’s at the same time as agility so that’ll be interesting to see how he does.

So anyway, that’s the plan for March obedience wise. I hope I can relax when I go. Maybe I need to look up the best ebook reader so I can sit and read in between. I love to read, it really does help me relax.