Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jackson's new collar/leash

I was stewarding a couple weeks ago at our club's agility trial and was quite taken with the colorful fleece collars that some of the agility competitors were using. They were martingale collar/leash combinations. Thanks to Melinda at Exercise Finished, I was able to find the exact collar I was looking for at Genuine Dog Gear.  So now I have about 506 collars and leashes!

Here's Jackson in his new "padded martingale tug leash"  : )

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Training update

It's been two weeks since I posted about Jolee's breakthrough with picking up the article. I'm using the clicker to mark the behavior I'm looking for. She had gone from nosing it, to mouthing it, and then the breakthrough - she started picking it up and bringing it to me.

I had not done anything else with her until this weekend when I was spurred into action by Laura's post, "How to: Teach your dog to hold." This is our next challenge, getting Jolee to hold the dumbbell/article. She currently wants to drop it as soon as she gets to me so I'm only clicking and treating when she holds it for a second or two. For the next few sessions I'm going to try to extend the length of time she holds it and work on getting her to look at me when she holds it. Perhaps if I get more regular with my training vs. once every two weeks, she will progress faster : )

Today's training with the dumbbell.

Jackson's training for UKC (United Kennel Club) utility class is continuing. The directed retrieve (glove) exercise in UKC is quite different than the glove exercise in AKC, so that's the exercise we've been concentrating on the most. In UKC the glove placement is different (they use the entire ring for this exercise) and there are two retrieves instead of one. On the second retrieve you send the dog to the middle of the ring and then direct him to the glove from there. You are working away from the dog for that retrieve instead of being right next to him so it's been more of a challenge for Jackson. He is coming along nicely though.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Breakthrough!

I started experimenting with clicker training articles with Jolee last month. It's been somewhat hit and miss, and it seemed we had reached a plateau.  I had been putting three articles out and clicking/treating when she indicated the scented article.She would indicate and maybe push the article around to get the click/treat, but wouldn't put her mouth over it.

Then it occurred to me that I had never worked with her on taking and holding an article. Maybe that's why we weren't making any progress???? So, I took a step back and stopped with the training on identifying the scented article and started working on taking/picking up a single article.

One other thing I did today that was different is I had her sit and watch Jackson pick-up the article a few times. Now, I don't know if dogs can learn from watching other dogs -  or was it just a coincidence .... but shortly thereafter, Jolee started picking up the article. The video below is of our session today and it is the first time she has picked the article up. Not sure where we go from here - but it sure is interesting : )

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Training update

Training has been more relaxed lately, and I've had time to think through what some of my training goals might be now. I have a couple things I'm working on with Jackson - some new behaviors/tricks and a new obedience exercise.

The new obedience exercise we are working on is the UKC directed retrieve/glove exercise. It's quite different than the AKC glove exercise so it's incorporating some new commands. I think learning a new exercise will keep both Jackson and me challenged. We have competed in UKC trials previously and Jackson has his UKC CDX title. I like UKC trials because they're usually quite a bit smaller and  more relaxed than AKC trials - at least in our area. If I do decide to enter a UKC trial later this year, it won't be the kind of pressure we've been under trying to get the other titles. I find though, that if I don't have some kind of plan or goal to work toward, I'm kind of at loose ends.

We had a fun match at the training club this morning. I did run throughs in both Open and Utility to see if I could see any improvement in the areas we've been working on lately. I was okay with both run-throughs, even though he didn't come on the first command from the down on the drop-on-recall exercise. Otherwise, he was staying with me pretty good on the heeling/figure 8 and he seemed more relaxed. I'm working on a behavior that will relax both of us in the ring between exercises - it's 'give me five' - having him offer me his paw. I see a lot of handlers doing jump and touch behaviors between exercises, and I tried to put 'touch' on command, but Jackson would never do it in the ring. However, he will sometimes raise his paw at me in training - usually when he's stressed and is trying to calm me : ) - so, I decided to try to put it on cue. He seems to like doing it and did it when I asked in the fun match today. I've heard some judges don't like handlers doing 'tricks' between exercises, but I'm not going to worry about that.

Now, for our other 'trick.' I've been looking for something that Jackson can do to entertain the residents when he goes on his therapy visits to the care center. The one I settled on was,  pick things up and put them in a basket. I've been trying to use the clicker to mark the breakdown of behaviors I'm training. However, I am not a 'clicker' trainer - at least not the kind that captures behaviors. I have found that I just don't have the patience to wait for a behavior to occur on it's own and then try to capture it. So, I'm using a lot of shaping and then I try to mark what I like using the clicker, and treat. Our first lesson was today. He knows the pick up part, and it was pretty easy to get him to bring it to the container. We need some work on the drop it in the container part. I ended up putting a treat to his nose so he would drop it to take the treat. (I was really off on my timing with the clicker though, as you will see in the video.)

Clicker trainers out there - if you have suggestions, please don't hesitate!