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Archive for the ‘Dog Training Games’ Category

So Tired Mom!

I’m taking this really fun online class with my dog called the Tricks Challenge. Baby Blaze (18 months and 90lbs) is learning to lift his paws. It originally started out as a trick but he doesn’t seem to be aware that he has paws or that he can use them. I think this will be very useful in the show ring and with his service dog behaviors so I’m going to keep working on it.

We’re using a technique called Shaping. Shaping is where you incrementally get closer to a behavior by making small modifications. The best explanation I ever heard was with dolphins, they don’t just put a ball 20 feet in the air and hope the dolphin touches it. Nor do they force the dolphin to touch it. They probably start by having a ball floating in the water and reward the dolphin for getting close to it. Over time the dolphin learns that touching the ball gets the reward, then they slowly raise it.

I’m using the same technique with Blaze, if he moves a paw he gets a reward. I personally use clicker training. After just 5 minutes, here is the result:

You guessed it, a sleeping tired dog. Thinking is hard work!!

Here is his video

Snow Storm 2011

We live in the South. We get maybe a few inches of snow a year, enjoy it for a few hours and then it melts. We dont get stuck inside, we dont get cabin fever, until this year.

Its January 11th, 2011. 1-1-11 to be exact, maybe that’s an omen? We got a snow storm followed by an ice storm topped off by freezing fog. I still don’t quite know what freezing fog is, but it makes me want to stay inside. My dogs on the other hand are LOVING this weather. They want to be out, enjoying the cold sniffing all the smells and watching all the kids sledding. We even had a make shift dog park in my back yard with 4 labs. Thank goodness for a fenced in yard!

If you are stuck in the ice indoors here in the south you might be wondering what the heck to do with your new found cabin fever and your dogs going a little bonkers without their normal walks. If you are like me, you’ll get creative – train your dogs people! Today I worked with Nitro on heads up heeling. Blaze is still working on his stand stays for the show ring.

Things to watch out for with snow and ice and your pets. First, dogs CAN get hypothermia. Protect them and warm them if they get wet or too cold. Do NOT leave them out too long. Watch for pad cuts, with ice you can definitely see some paw cuts. Be careful of sidewalks with salt or other chemicals – these can burn your dogs skin and pads, and be dangerous if they ingest it. Be careful of stairs and them slipping, clear off a safe place for them to walk down on and try to keep it ice free.

Here are some snow pictures, hope you enjoy them!



Heeling Week 2 Day 1

So Week 1 Heeling focus was to really work on driving to heel position and making it fun.  Week 2 is about teaching some rear movement.  By the end of the week we’d like to have the handler facing the box walking around it, and the dog swinging their rear following in heel position.  Getting this nice movement sideways is invaluable to turning and pivots.

I am using a box for teaching this behavior as it is a good foundation for the dog.  Initially I stand in front of the dog with a treat and walk around the box trying to get the dog to move their hind legs to the left.  If they move at all I click and treat.  Even if I have to get really close to their rear and they are in gumby mode trying to get the treat in my hands, I just wait and dont give the treat until they move.

If your dog doesn’t like having their feet on the box you may want to start there.  Just lure the dog up and reward when they have two feet on, two feet off.

The goal is to get the dogs rear legs moving with you facing the dog. Dont push the dog or use the leash (in fact train without a leash).  Just work on your timing of watching those rear feet moving.  Any left movement can be rewarded.

Heeling Week 1 Day 4

I skipped day 3 so sorry! On Day 4 my goal is still trying to get that perfect position. The problem is the rear end of the dog swings wide and so they wind up being crooked. Now image you start walking with your crooked dog, what happens? You bang into each other or he stays out of position. Neither are good for heeling. The perfect position is what we are after and teaching the dog to find that perfect position is the goal of week one.

So, if you are having issues, you have to implement something to fix it. You can use ring gates or a box – my choice is a box. Especially since we will use the box for more things later.

With Blaze, I’ve worked on putting his front feet on the box, just never at my side. I did the same thing, tossed the treat back and called to heel (I’m using “get close”) and click when the two front feet are up on the box. I’m standing at the right position to get him lined up perfectly with me. Now that we have the box I can begin to angle the direction of the toss to try to help him figure it out. If he messes up I say uh oh and try again.

With Nitro he had never used a box but he got the concept quickly. I found when I toss the treat to the side, he gets confused and comes around to the front. The goal is to get the rear legs moving laterally. The best heeling dogs have a nice head up and back legs that move! When he would come around front I would use his no reward marker (uh oh) and try again.

Another trick i’m using is to use two different types of treats, a yummy one, and a cheerio. Toss the cheerio (less interesting) and reward with the higher value treat when they return.

Heeling Week 1 Day 2

The goal for week 1 is to still get that perfect heel position but also to get the dog to “find” the position on their own. Sure you can lure your dog into heeling position but does that mean they really understand it? Probably not.

Blaze (the puppy) is having trouble getting straight – so I need to use either a box for him to put his front feet on or gaits (or a wall) to get him coming in straight. I also am tossing the treat slightly to the right behind me and rewarding in the position I want him.

Nitro is doing better than Blaze – but he has a history of heeling. I toss the treat back, say “get it”, then I say “Nitro get close” and as he comes in I click when he gets to where I want him and reward in front of his face so his head is straight which keeps his body straight. Since he is doing well I can vary where I throw the treat (always behind me though).

The goal – fun, short, specific things to train for!