Thursday, May 28, 2009

If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome. -Michael Jordan

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ideas for Keeping a Dog Busy

A couple of years ago, Blue blew out a hock.

In an effort to keep both Blue stimulated
and happy in her cast for 20 weeks
I had to come up with a plan.

I looked at every idea that was sent to me
and thought about what I could train on a lead,
in a crate, on a mat or in an exercise
pen. I have been picking something to work on for
a couple of minutes every hour that I am at home and awake.

And every potty break was a training session.

A lot of the stuff we had been working on already,
Blue after all was my agility dog.

Mainly I am used Sue Ailsby's training levels
( and
Shirley's keepers (
to guide me in training.

Blues training plan
-- pick up (as in let me pick you up)
-- nose touch to target / object (naming objects
or just pointing) with duration
-- nose touch to end stick with duration
-- nose touch to my hand with duration
-- paw touch to target / object (naming objects
or just pointing) with duration
-- paw touch to stick with duration
-- paw touch to my hand with duration
-- Spin
-- Twist
-- follow target stick
-- follow my hand
-- Husbandry - accept any type of handling
-- LLW to potty and back
-- Leash manners
-- Shirley's say please
-- Shirley's conditioned relaxer
-- Shirley's induced sleep
-- Shirley's Retrieve
-- Shirley's Recall redux
-- find Mine - Scent Discrimination
-- settle (lie down flat on side)
-- Take (shape a hold using wood, plastic, leather, metal)
-- Give (shape a give using wood, plastic, leather, metal)
-- Sit
-- Sit stay
-- Sit for exam
-- Down
-- Down stay
-- Down for handling
-- Zen
-- Look at That
-- Go sniff
-- Sit at door
-- getting teeth brushed
-- Yes (same as click)
-- Look back at doorways
-- Crate games
-- Leash on and off
-- collar grab
-- ruff grab
-- urinate on cue on a short lead on any surface
-- defecate on cue on a short lead on any surface
-- Use a specific place in the yard as an outdoor bathroom
-- quiet (no bark) on cue
-- Bark on cue
-- Ready (sit and look at me)
-- Taz (short for Tasmanian devil which is her nick name)
look at me and see what I will ask next
-- pronto (classically conditioned recall cue-
come now and let me touch you)
-- eat (clean you bowl immediately or it will be removed.)
-- drink (take a couple of lick from what I offer you)
-- mat go and stay until called or release
-- crate enter and stay in crate until told to leave with door open
-- Sits to leave crate. Walks out and sits again.
(WALKS out and turns to look at you)
-- Look at cat then automatically look at me. (without barking)
-- Stand
-- Stand stay
-- Stand for exam
-- classically condition love of a head halter
-- classically condition love of a life jacket
-- classically condition love of a back pack
-- classically condition love of an elizabethan collar
-- classically condition love of a muzzle
-- classically condition love of nail grinder
-- classically condition attention to me when I
sing twinkle twinkle little star
-- classically condition attention to me when I wear a
black wrist band on my left wrist
-- auto watch me
-- Find it (treat dropped or hidden near the dog to
teach her to sniff for it)
-- Blue (look at me when I say your name)
-- Dogs (look at me when I say your dogs)
-- Easy (slow down)
-- Wait
-- Build a motivating toy
-- Build a desire to tug (laying down and sitting?)
-- One meal a day spread in a scent box
-- scenting (from training levels)
-- Ring bell with nose
-- Ring bell with paw
-- Roll over
-- Rub back on floor
-- Shake hands
-- other hand
-- Paw wack
-- Other paw wack
-- Both paw wack
-- High Five
-- other high five
-- Wave
-- other wave
-- give a back paw
-- give other back paw
-- Cover your eyes
-- stretch - captured when she leave crate
-- bow
-- U-turn (Turn 180 back towards me and touch my hand)
-- here (come up behind me and touch what ever hand is presented)
-- safe (sit behind me. it is okay to look out between my legs)
-- kiss
-- smile - captured (mouth slightly open, ears back, eyes soft)
-- sing (howl)
-- look (the way I point)
-- Right (dog's)
-- Left (dog's)
-- Shaping games
-- Bang (play dead)
-- Cross paws - The dog is laying down, with one paw
crossed over the other
-- Chin (rest you chin in my hands so I can clean your tear ducts)
-- Pull on rope
-- Find/bring car keys
-- Push something with the nose
-- Sneeze
-- Stop / freeze on cue
-- stationary left heel
-- stationary right heel
-- Teach names for toys (Get or touch a toy by name)
-- Put Away The Toys
-- sit go wild sit
-- Be a wolf Bare teeth
-- Cock your head to one side
-- Growl
-- Nod your head
-- Rub muzzle on floor
-- Shake your head
-- Wet - Shake yourself
-- Wag tail
-- Yawn
-- Look cute (ears up)
-- Balance treat on the nose
-- toss up and catch a treat from nose

Bored Dog Exercises

I like tracking with my dog because it is just me and Blue out working. She doesn't have to "worry" about other dogs.

Look at these two links for ideas.

Scent Discrimination

Tracking Games

Monday, May 18, 2009


Ick! Ticks. It is that time of the year.

Click on the links below for more infomation.

Dos and Do Nots

Tool for Removal

Great Website

Monday, May 11, 2009

A dog training question

"A search and rescue handler and dog team that has been performing fairly well in training, even with some blind (they don't know where the subject/article is) problems is ready to do a formal evaluation. They feel ready, but they have test anxiety anyhow. Unfortunately now, so does their dog. The dog will literally start barfing because of stress (handler is working hard to control their own stress, but having a barfing dog doesn't help). No leashes are used, but we all know the leash doesn't matter that much anyhow as the invisible ones are just as taut as the actual leashes :). The test must be called off because the dog just shuts down. The handler does not use aversive training methods either. It seems to simply be test anxiety. I know the handler works hard to stay calm during an eval and even seems to be ok, but how do we make them calmer so the dog feels it too?"

My answer:

Can the handler do a couple of mock tests running someone else's already certified dog?

In another life, I spent 20 years as a Junior Olympic boxing coach, judge and referee. "Choking" was a common problem with my young athletes so we put in a lot of time working on mental toughness.

Mental toughness, by definition, toughness is "to be strong and resilient; able to withstand great strain without tearing or breaking. It is "between the ears" toughness. Mental toughness is skill.

Try the book "That Winning Feeling" by Jane Savoie which has helped lots of people who compete with their dogs. And even better book is "The New Toughness Training for Sports" by James E. Loehr.

Can you get the handler to learn to meditate? Various forms of meditation have been used for thousands of years for almost any purpose you can fathom, including reduction of stress, enhanced mental clarity, and simple relaxation.

Can you get the handler to learn to visualize?

Can you get the handler to over prepare? There should be nothing new on test day.

Can training days be varied, different, more stressful? Just as progression is an important part of training, applying any challenging stimulus to the handler's life will give the handler a greater ability to handle stress of all kinds. It would go a long way towards teaching the handler problem-solving skills and critical thinking, both of which can help the handler tough out any number of situations.

Can the handler teach the dog some stress relieving tricks to do as they warm up for the search?

Can you put a calming word into the dog and handler's training vocabulary? Get the handler to use it frequently at home when everything is relaxed and safe. The use it out and about, during trainings, until the dog realizes that it is the cue that everything is fine. (I sing happy birthday to my reactive GSD, Blue.) This can be a great tool when the handler is pushed to work a stressful area, as the dog can be reassured. (And I personally find it hard to be stressed while signing something as silly as happy birthday.)

Can the handler learn doggy calming signals and mimic them for the dog?

Can you find a way to turn the stress signals that the handler throws in to a cue for calm for the dog?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Kid helping in my manners class

I took the kid to work with me recntly. She helped train a 1 year old lab mix in my basic manners class. Instead of taking photos with a still camera, I shot video.