Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Drop on Recall

This has been a common theme at camp and at many recent lessons.

Consider the many parts of the DOR exercise (In lessons and especially at camp, I have everyone list off as many as they can think of):

1) Getting into Heel Position x2
2) Remaining in Position
3) Release from Sit
4) Coming to Handler x2
5) Dropping (in motion, and at a distance)
6) Release from a Down
7) Sit at Front
8) Release

Most difficulties arise at number five. Rarely is it a "It's hard to Drop while moving" and rarely is a "It's hard to Drop away from you." Usually it's a "Down is not on cue" issue.

Repairing the situation:
1) Get Down on verbal cue only.
2) Get Down on visual cue only.

And from there our repairs will vary depending on the dog.

Interestingly, it's [supposedly] traditional to not start the DOR until after Novice is completed... otherwise dogs may start to drop on the Novice recall.

What do I say to that? Stimulus control! Your dog should only be dropping when you ask him to by that point in time!

Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 Ohio 4H Teen Dog Experience Camp

Blogger keeps freezing up every time I open the page. It's taken a few days to get this up.

Griffin and I had a fabulous time last weekend... four days in beautiful SE Ohio. We were at the Houstons new(ish) facility to host the Ohio 4-H Teen Dog Experience camp. To make the week even more exciting our friends Megan and (four legged) Bailey came to help teach.

We had four instructors, eleven campers, and our nurse. That resulted in sixteen dogs and sixteen people in the two cabins. It was an adventure! I love camp and it improves every year. The kids come from all over the state to learn more about dog training, dogs, and 4-H. We teach them about obedience, agility, tracking, and many other things. There are traditional camp activities...campfires, giving the other cabins a hard time, and crafts (making tug toys!).

Luna has gone with me the past two years, but Griffin came along this year. He was fabulous! This is a difficult environment for dogs, but we managed it with a few tricks:

1) The Manners Minder: I kept this in a corner and the kids were happy to assist in reinforcing him when he would remain in place. I used it at night to help him settle.
2) Rest: Rest is as important as activity! He only came along to a few activities in the training barn, but participated in activities at the Cabin.
3) Assistance: The kids (and instructors!) were fabulous. They fed and pet him for sitting. They did not feed or pet him if he jumped up. They reinforced other good behaviors. They followed my training rules for him.
4) A strong Leave It: Griffin has been taught to leave plates/bowls of food alone. This results in interest on tabled/plated/countered items...but he resists the temptation. He was able to pass through the many kids eating without taking a single chip. The sight of the plate is the cue for him to Leave the item.
5) Meal Time Behavior: I don't mind begging...and teach my dogs how to do it appropriately. This started when Luna was a puppy and spent a lot of time around small kids. She very quickly learned she was supposed to lie down in the presence of food...thus she was not taking food from the kids.
Griffin offers a chin target (rests his head on laps), which is a little more up-close, but I don't mind it and do prefer to know what he's up to when we're eating in public! The kids were happy to go along with my directions on feeding him for this and he was happy to offer it to everyone. Even with his nose near a plate, he does not touch the items on a plate.

We can't wait for next year!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Serious and Fun

Griffin is supposed to be heading towards a serious and successful career in obedience and agility. But, I'll admit I don't stick 100% to my perfect behaviors and cued responses.

Tonight, the young two-leggeds were interested in "racing" the dogs on a timed course. We set out some jumps and a tunnel (the kids run along it, not through it! They've found that takes too long.). Luna wasn't keen to play, I ran Blaze a couple times.... and Griffin thought it was brilliant.

We've only done a little bit of sequencing, and what we had tonight felt great! I was handling more cautiously than I do in training when we're working on handling, but, he was responding to cues and seemed to want to be working a little further away.

And the other part of our evening? The kids took turns running him too. With their less than ideal cueing and timing... but that's okay. I was able to watch and see what cues Griffin was responding to (and not) to figure out what unintentional cues I might be providing or where he is still needing work on cues. How did Griffin handle this? He was fairly responsive, more handler-focused than with me, kept trying to enguage them despite no food on hand, and did read sloppy rear cross cues.

Griffin is so much fun. We also played with (obedience) directed jumping. It has been a while since we've had a training session on that, but he remembered what we were going for. We need more distance between the jumps and from where we start/end.... but we're getting there and do have plenty of time. That silly stand for exam is what we need to work on!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Over, not Under!

When Griffin was a puppy we played lots of "go under the chair" and "go under the table" games. Now, Griffin likes to go under.

This week I decided it was time to learn that jumps are for going over. He has been taught that it's good to "Go between the jump standards" but we hadn't yet added the height aspect. Every few repetitions, I would raise the jump bar. He learned it was good to go over the bar.

I added handler motion, and as I should have predicted, his performance deteriorated to going under the bars. We lowered the bars and gradually raised him.

After a couple sessions he is now happy and reliable with going over the bars. We probably won't do much more jumping for a few months to give him some more time to physically grow up.

Now, back to contacts and obedience.

This is a picture from our camping trip...right before Griffin started rolling around like a silly dog.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

People and Animals

This week's reading has been Made for Each Other . It's not easy reading, but it's fabulous! The author explores the science about why people enjoy animals and the neurochemicals involved. What? There are all sorts of chemical reactions that can impact the types of interactions we have with our animals? Yes.

I haven't finished yet, but I'm getting there. Different people have different interactions with their animals and this book is making me think about why that may be. Our animals are very good for us, and possibly more than most people know.