Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Monday Morning Puppy Class - a year ago

This is Max.

This is Max being walked my a yorkie.

This is Tux.

Take a doggie body language quiz

To see more click here ------>The Quiz

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mat training the Control Unleashed way

This is my understanding of teaching a dog self-control using the Control Unleashed program based on reading the book (which I highly recommend), listening to the program creator, Leslie McDevitt, talk about her system and watching DVDs of Leslie work dog. These notes were tested in the Wednesday morning Control Unleashed class at TCOTC in Minneapolis.

If you try the program out at home using my notes (along with the book and a copy of the Relaxation Protocol), let me know how it works for you.

(a, b & c steps are trained at the same time but not in the same sessions.)

1. A. You teach Go To Mat. The end product is that the dog can be sent to the mat from a distance, downs on the mat and stays until recalled or released from mat.
1. B. You teach the Whiplash Turn towards you to the dog’s name. At home where the dog is very focused play a game where you toss a treat and send the dog to get it. As he's eating it say his name and click the second he turns his head toward you. Let him come back to you to get another treat. Then throw another one and start again.
That game lets you practice clicking the turning of the head. Practice it outside also with the dog on lead. If he doesn't turn his head towards you when you say his name, stand very still and hold the leash close so that he can't get too far away from you. Wait until he does turn towards you. Mark that and then release him to check out whatever was distracting him. This is using the Premack principle to reward the turn. Use Premack as much as possible.
1. C. You teach a Default Eye Contact. When the handler steps in front of the dog makes and holds eye contact with the handler.

2. A. You use the Relaxation Protocol and Bar Open/Bar Closed exercises to tell the dog that as long as the dog is on it's mat, strange stuff might happen but it just means that the dog will be fed on the mat. You do the RP in room #1 for all 15 days and then you do all 15 days in a new room. After four times through in four different places in your house, you take it on the road. The bar open /bar closed bar stuff can start anywhere at anytime during the process and seems to speed up the RP. Your goal is for the dog to melt into and be totally relaxed on the mat, not a dog that is just waiting to work. The clicker while doing mat work is too stimulating for most dogs.
2. B. You start training Look At That (LAT) on neutral objects. Work on the Whiplash Turn first, as turning quickly towards you is the most important part of the Look At That behavior chain. Then c/t the dog for looking at a neutral object you hold up or a piece of paper taped to the wall. The second step is that you ask the dog to look at the object. You are not waiting for him to select his own visual target, you tell him to look at something specific.

Whatever is drawing the dog's attention most in the environment is what you will be telling him to look at once he learns the LAT behavior chain. You can point towards the distraction or use some other body language to be very specific about what you are paying the dog to look at. When beginning, stand in front of the dog -- if you are in front of the dog it is supposed to make eye contact with you. That should be trained as a default behavior. Then move to the side, opening up the space in front of the dog to invite him to look at something specific.

3. Once the dog understands that the mat is a safe place where goodies happen, and can relax on the mat, you add the Look At That (LAT) game to the mat work. Dog looks at something first, then gets a treat.

4. You take the mat and the dog on the road to high distraction environments.

5. A. You then fade the mat and have the dog down in front of you and actively watch you.
5. B. You call the dog off the mat and work LAT with the dog just standing or sitting at heel.
5. C. After you do the RP through for each day, you can add a noise desensitization CD (kitchens, vacuums, dog show, agility, door knocking, dogs barking, door bells) at a low volume and go from there, gradually turning up the volume as the gets more and more comfortable with the noises as you go through the RP once again.

6. Do mat work with a couple dogs and handlers at once. Send the dogs to their mats parallel to each other. Have the dogs pass each other to opposite mats. Have one dog stay on a mat and the another one is sent to theirs and has to run past the staying dog.

The goal is for the mat to be a home base where the dog feels safe and knows exactly what to expect.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dogs in Black and White

Additonal goals

Here are more goals for me.

I will run Red in some form of agility this year (and do the training to get there.)

I will teach Red a fold back down.

I will get Blue certified to take a tracking test (and do the training to get there.)

I will reduce my waist line so I can run Red in agility (and do the working out to get there.)


Here is my workout plan.

Every other day I will do a 30-minute program of high-intensity interval training. I'll take one dog along each time I go.

The plan is to:
* walk for 10 minutes at a brisk pace
* jog for 4 minutes
* run hard for 1 minute
* jog for 4 minutes
* run hard for 1 minute
* walk for 10 minutes

What does not kill me will make me stronger. -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Maybe I'll start when the SNOW is gone. :-(

Finn working on his basket trick

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Easter Basket

Jane is teaching Finn to carry a basket. He showed off the early stages of his trick for me today.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -- Mark Twain

Great Puppy Raising

More Genius Dog

Jane are you still looking for a trick to teach Finn?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Dog training goals

My goals for Blue include basic social skills and team work.

I want her to sit, down and go to mat (and stay there) regardless of the distractions.

I want a rock solid come to front and either side, her to stay with me while working off lead, a supervised separation (so she'll allow a helper to hold her in agility class), and her to ignore other dogs even if they jog towards and then pass her with their handler.

I want to be able to leave her in a down stay while I walk the rally course.

I want Blue to be able to play with me and a toy anywhere.

I want Blue to be able to run with me (circle work) without herding me.

My goals for Red are fewer.

I want him to happily get into his car crate.

The dog can tell from the glance of the trainer the state of the trainer’s soul.
- Capt. Max von Stephanitz


Oh my! I need one of these. (The toy not the dog....)

About This Video

I built the ball machine because I thought my dog Jerry, might like it and that it would be something fun for me to build. So after two years of on and off work, with many safety features such as IR proximity sensors to protect Jerry and my son from the machine, I finally complete.

Far from being a replacement for me, I was always right there with him enjoying his fun. And with all the troubles that I went through to build the ball machine, I still end up throwing more balls than that the machine could count! According to the computer, he played with the machine by himself only 3 times in his life.

I recently put this video on YouTube to keep alive my earlier memories of him and (hopefully) provide some "humorous distractions" for anyone that might drop by.

9 Habits of Effective Clicker Trainers Part 1 Using Rewards

This video is a must watch for all clicker trainers!

This blog is also not to be missed.

The key to animal training is having a plan, sticking to it, analyzing results and modifying as appropriate. One must use data to determine what is successful or not.

- Bob Bailey
The dog is always right, no matter what happens. JudyS

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Finn Skates


Java Waits to be Noticed

Life Lessons from a Ranch Horse

There is an excellent book by Mark Rashid about training horses called “Life Lessons from a Ranch Horse".

The six rules he gives work as well for dogs as they do for horses.

Rashid's rules are:
1. Carry a non-confrontational attitude.
2. Plan ahead.
3. Be patient.
4. Be persistent.
5. Be consistent.
6. Fix a setback and move on.

Photographing Dogs

I took a photo of the Blue-dog over the deck rails. (Tayja puts that ugly scarve on the poor dog every morning so Blue doesn't have to be "nekkid.")

Then I took the photo thurough the deck rails. It changes the mood of the photo and adds a layer of interest.

It is a still different and more interesting photo in my opinion when I zoomed in and turned the camera to vertical.

And now I just show one of Blue's eyes watching me.

Tech notes: All the photos were spot focused (in auto ) on Blue's right eye. My ISO was 100. Shutter speed was 1/250. My F-stop was f/4.0 on the ones through the fence and f/5.6 on the first one. I used a 70 to 200 mm zoom lens set at 120.0 mm on all (except the first photo). The eye photo was cropped out of a larger frame. I picked f/4 as my f-stop for through the rails because I wanted Blue's eye and muzzle to be sharp but I wanted just a hint of the deck rails. Blue was below and about five feet way from the rails. I used an ISO was 100 because I knew that I had plenty of light with the brightness reflecting off of the snow. The day is overcast which is a very pretty time to take photos out side.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blue Working

Lynnda took video of me working Blue. She also provided the notes under the videos to explain what I was working on with Ms. Blue.

Here is Robin working to desensitize Blue, her GSD, to the small & medium two dogs lying quietly in the ring to the camera’s right. Robin is doing Look At That with Blue as well as moving to add more distance between Blue & the dogs.

Here is Robin working to desensitize Blue, her GSD, to the small & medium two dogs lying quietly in the ring to the camera’s right. Robin is doing Look At That with Blue as well as moving to add more distance between Blue & the dogs. Robin is probably giving Blue a bit too much leash; if the leash was shorter, Blue might have had more opportunities for reinforcment.

Here we are having Robin demonstrate the choose-to-heel exercise, clicking the dog the moment it drives towards heel position, with the handler to deliver the tidbit in heel position. Think Click for Action, Reward for Position -- as clicker master Bob Bailey often says.

These two Teaching Heeling videos are for Minnesota 4-H dog project leaders & trainers. The kids in 4-H have to pass an obedience test that emphasizes heeling [like most obedience competition] before they can do agility with the dog.

Robin or Blue have never done this exercise this way (and it is only the third time Blue has ever been to that building).

Clicker Bird Training

I was looking at bird clicker training videos to give me some ideas for working with the birds at work. Holly and Jane have inspired me to work with some animal that is NOT a dog with the clicker.

Check this video out.

I just want to train the birds at work to stop trying to bite me! Anything else would be extra!
"When a dog runs at you, whistle for him." - Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lynnda works Java on crosses

Lynnda's goal in life is to turn me in to a competent agility handler. She feels very sorry for my dogs. She is trying to explain to me the proper way to do crosses and lead changes.

Java was nice enough after to let me play with her too however we will spare you from having to watch me and my two left feet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Waiting for dinner

More dog photos.

Red is waiting in his crate in the laundry room for dinner while Blue waits on her towel in the kitchen.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fixing Red's Crate Screaming

This is how I am fixing Red's unhappiness in a crate.

First thing I did was take away the crate in the car and I stopped
using the crate in the house so that I could retrain it. Red is a soft
whiny dog as several people on this list will attest. I will add back
the car crate in another week or two. He had gotten to the point where
he did not want to jump in the car and I had to shove him in the

Now we feed Red all his meals in a crate - with the door open to start
but now I close the door while he is eating. Red goes in his crate
first, I then deliver his meal. I latch the door and walk away. I
return to let him out as soon as my other dog is done eating as Red is
the slower of the two. That way I can return and open the door before
he finishes eating. However I think it is time for me to start
returning after he is done but before he is noisy about it.

I always leaving the crate door open when the dogs are not inside. A
couple times a day I'd toss treats in the crates while the dog were
out side playing. Both dogs run in to their crates when they come in
the house now from being outside to check for any stray treats. They
just stay long enough to eat the treats.

I put a very comfy pad in the crates. I found Red napping in his crate
with the door open the other day. It was just before dinner time and
all the comfy dog beds were in the washer.

I started doing formal crate training sessions. Red used to be great
in his crate so basically I am *retraining.* I started with clicking
him to go in to a crate. I put a crate in the living room and one
next to my computer in my office. I tied the doors open. I started
with just clicking Red dog for looking at the crate, moving towards
it, putting a paw in it, etc. When he has a body part in, I toss the
treats past him in to the back of the crate instead of clicking him
which causes him to come out of the crate to collect his treat. Soon
times I close the door with out lacking it. He'll stay. I let him out
before he whines. Some times I latch it.

I just started walking away from him while in the crate and leaving
him with a stuffed kong or another goody. And I've been leaving him a
minute or two. Sometimes I send him in the crate and ask him to stay
with the door open and me near by. I think all the mat training we
have been doing helps a lot too. I have not put his mat in a crate.

I started class with a treat and train on the top of a wire crate. I
found that Red never left work mode. He would eat and whine and eat
and whine and every once in a while if he could not see me but could
hear me talking to the class, he'd scream and or bark and then go back
to eating the falling treats.

So now every I class I spend a few minutes at the beginning of each
class to shape him to go in the crate. I don't leave him for long. I
take him out and we go do mat work. Later in the class I do another
session. And then after class we do a third. I put the thickest
comfyest warmest sleeping bag that I could find in the largest crate I
could find. I've been putting canned tripe in his kong. And I let him
out of the crate as soon as he is very settled and comfy. I do leave
him and go out of sight while he is working on his kong. He'll now go
in the crate in class when I request it and stay until released. And
after released he will turn around and reenter the kennel to check and
see if he missed any treats.

(Lynnda is this what you mean by training posts?)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Butt ripping play

Crate Stress

Zoe lets the world know that she is not happy in her crate.

Training Games

Chewing a cookie

Holding a dumb

Waiting for a click

Checking the camera bag

Leaping for joy

A boy and his dog

Both the dobe and the boy are both just under 2 years old.