Friday, March 25, 2011

'That Was Easy Button' - A Trick!!

(Another 'Guest Trickster" - 
If you'd like to be one, please contact me!)

Rudy was my first attempt at clicker or trick training and he was the perfect choice.  However my methods were pretty much hit and miss. 

I taught Rudy as a puppy to foot touch a mouse pad.  Any time he touched it, I clicked and treated.  Rudy figured out what the clicker meant and I figured out that silence on my part is sometimes good.  He soon started stepping on anything lying on the floor (still does offer that behavior). 
I named the behavior “hit it”.

I next started asking Rudy to “hit” different objects starting with my hand.  It took a couple sessions to differentiate between a nose “touch” or a foot “hit.”  But, I persisted and he figured it out.  So now I could point out anything, say “hit it” and Rudy would hit the object with his foot………pylons and ring gates.

( It is his utility go out marker now.  If I don’t say anything he hits the center stanchion and runs back to me.  If I command a sit, he doesn’t get to “hit”, has to sit.)

Anyway………………… at school we taught him to hit the little bell to get the kids quiet.  I put it on the floor, pointed to it and said, “hit it”.  That was easy as it took a very light touch to make the bell ring, but the kids thought it was great.

Finally the easy button.  The easy button was a bit harder as he had to hit, hold and release.  It was just a matter of him trying and trying until he understood what he had to do to get the button to “talk”.  As you saw on the video, he’ll stand there forever hitting that button. 

I’ve attached a picture we took at school of Rudy with one of my students from a couple of years ago………special ed.  Rudy and he got along famously.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

That Amazing Kid and Her "Big" White Dog Too!!!

Natalie finished Peach, her Samoyed's, AXJ on Sunday.  
They also earned their first MACH points in Standard!

 What's truly Amazing about this is, Natalie is 7 and Peach is 4.  
Natalie has trained Peach all on her own.  
She started coming out to class when she was 3 years old.  
She is one remarkable KID!

 Us Orange People, "kind" of like her!

We also realize it's just not physically 'safe' to be anywhere
NEAR her Me maw, Liz, while Nat's running.
You are likely to be squeezed, pinched, punched, 
and then have your ear drums ruptured!
Yep, distance is best!

I'm pretty sure if all kids were as cool as Nat, 
we'd all have one!

Here's some of the collection of pictures I have.
Those toddler legs just crack me up.
It's amazing how much she's changed in just a few years.

Peach is without a doubt Natalie's Biggest Fan!


As Natalie said after her Jumpers Q, 
"Now I can start earning those MACH Q's!"
Without a doubt Nat. Without a doubt!

Seeker and I will be staying OUT of the 20" class for awhile.
Good Luck to the rest of you!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Catch a Cup - A Trick

Sometimes “Tricks Happen”!!

What I mean is, you’re not even thinking about a trick, but then somehow, it happens.

That’s exactly what happened with this trick, it was just “MAGIC”!

This actually started in a hotel last fall. Bill was focusing on the TV, his Football games were on, and Seeker was focusing on his Poppa! “PLAY WITH ME!!!” Seeker had one of his new green Zanie moons, and wanted someone to throw it for him. Since I ignored him until he went away, Bill was his next logical choice.

Bill threw it a couple times, tossed it in the air a couple times, and then for some very strange reason started balancing it on Seeker’s nose. Crazy thing, Seeker just let him do it! Next think I knew, Bill was no longer watching the TV, he was playing with Seeker. That is one smart puppy!!!

Several months later finds us in another hotel room. Seeker is bored, but we’re both too lazy to go get him a toy out of the van. Next thing I know, Seeker finds my empty plastic cup and runs to Bill with it. I grab the flip, Bill balances the cup, and a movie is made! In one shot! AMAZING!!! He even caught the cup without crushing it.

To begin get a toy that has some ‘staying power’, meaning it will easily sit across your dog’s nose. You’ll need to play with this part, as every dog is different. Bill never said a word, and still doesn’t. Seeker just waits for it to be set, and he also decides when to catch it.

I would assume this would be fairly easy to switch to a ‘treat’ on the nose. We haven’t tried that yet. For a very food motivated dog, the toy would be much easier. At least that’s what I think.

Just play with it and see what happens.
 If nothing else, you’ll get a few laughs!
Isn’t that what training is all about?

Having FUN!!!

Speaking of Magic!!

Happy Birthday Mad and Kruz.

Hugs to Mad Dog who turned 11 on the 18th and Kruz who turns 13 on the 19th!!

Happy Birthday Kids!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Finding your Hidden Talent

I believe that each of us is blessed with a natural talent. For some people it’s art, whether it’s drawing, knitting, quilting, or maybe photography. For others it might be fixing mechanical things, or maybe you’re great at math. If you are really lucky, you have several things you excel at.

I also believe your dog “comes” with natural talents, Maybe he’s good at ‘holding position’, AKA – Stays: Seeker is great at this, but then again….maybe it was the crate games? Maybe your dog is a natural for collection, or he came with the ‘weave gene’, ‘heeling gene’, or ‘cuddle gene’. Maybe that talent is still hidden ‘inside’ your dog, and you just haven’t discovered it yet. Regardless, I’m sure it’s there, just waiting to present itself.

Some people are just naturally good trainers, for whatever reason, dogs are like a blob of clay to them, just waiting to be formed. For others, dog training is a struggle; leaving the trainer feeling like they are all thumbs. Regardless, there is always something to learn, and improve upon. ALWAYS!

In the last few months friends and acquaintances have brought home new puppies. It’s enough to give even me puppy fever! For the majority of these people, it’s not their first ‘performance’ puppy. I don’t think I’m risking much by saying they all have big dreams for their puppies. I think this is great!
Dream BIG! 
Stretch your training. 
Grow together. 

(My favorite puppy picture - 4 people (Melinda, Linda, Krista, Bill),
8 arms, 11 PWD puppies - they couldn't handle it!  
(Nina is in there somewhere, she's the PERFECT one!)

For some of us, this might mean stepping outside of our comfort zone. Training a new puppy differently, than we did the last one, can be kind of scary. I think most of us have some concerns when it comes to ‘screwing’ up our newest additions. This is probably natural, but you’ll become a better trainer by trying some new things and thinking outside the box.  Searching for your hidden talent.

You might also want to step back and honestly evaluate what you’ve accomplished with your most recent dog. I’m not saying accomplishment is everything, but it ‘might’ be a good measurement of where your training is, and maybe where it needs to go. So, ask yourself, “Did we consistently achieve our goals”. Did we exceed our expectations? Did we accomplish that ‘Big Dream’?

If the answer is ‘yes’, by all means, repeat what worked for your last dog. You might need to fine tune a few things, here or there, as every dog is different. On the whole however, you probably have a really good training plan.

If the answer is ‘no’ however, it might be time to re-evaluate your training strategy. If you’re falling short of your goals, change may be in order. It’s time to take a step back, get out of your comfort zone, and give something else a try. Take your training to that next level. As Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

I don’t get a new puppy very often. I know that only have a limited number of dogs to train in my lifetime. I need to be picky about which puppy comes home with me, and how I choose to train it. I also know that I’ve learned a lot from our past dogs, and I’m hopefully building on that knowledge to make the training easier for our new additions. I sure hope I’m not living up to Albert’s quote!  Are you?

I wonder if Albert ever had a dog?

He seems like more of a cat person to me!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Backing Up - This Week's Trick!

You’ll need your dog, treats, a clicker, and a couple broad jump boards to form a chute.  You can substitute the broad jump boards with any other type of barrier.  A wall on one side with a board on the other side would work.

You’re looking to set up a chute with these barrier items, just slightly wider than your dog’s width of body.  You will be sitting, or on your knees, whichever is more comfortable for you.  The dog will be lured into the chute, and will be facing you at the far end, or beginning of the chute. (See below)
You will have treats in one hand and your clicker in the other.  You are going to wait for your dog to drop his head (probably to sniff your hands), and you will click and roll the treat between his front legs toward his hind legs.  This is going to encourage him to move backwards.  Once he’s had his treat, start again with him in front of you, and when he picks up a paw, or drops his head, click and treat.  Repeat.

I think the mistake most people make in training is they don’t reward enough.  They spend so much time sticking a cookie on the dogs nose, and not enough time feeding them the treat!  So, reward often!!  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before.

He’ll soon pick up that you want him to back up.  The chute is keeping him straight.  Don’t rush!!!  Let him figure it out, and reward for small steps backwards.  Do not reward him for coming back to you to start again.

When he can back the full length of the barrier, with you on your knees, you can begin to stand.  Once he is able to back while you are standing, you can add the command, ‘back’.  Only say it once.  If the dog freezes, wait him out and reward when he takes one more step back.  Reward the same way, between his front legs and roll it back toward his hind legs.

If you give him a second command, you’ve taken away his need to think, and you’ve rewarded him for stopping.  Something you really do not want to get into the habit of doing.  Think about any ‘second’ command you give, you’ve actually ‘reinforced’ them ‘not doing it’.

If this is done correctly, your dog should be able to back up on one command until you ask him to do something else.  Don’t ask for too long of a back up at first.  Ping Pong your distance, sometimes really short, long, medium, short etc.  If you always have him go a long way back, he’ll start to wonder if you’re ever going to have him stop.  We really don’t want that!

This is a great exercise for rear end awareness, rear end strengthening, 4 leg engagement, and relationship building and wonderful for puppies.

Backing up!

It’s Only a Trick!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Take A Nap - A Trick!

This has got to be one of my favorite tricks thus far!   
Just slightly ahead of “How to Bag a Cougar”.   

It’s probably all the cuter with a 12 week old puppy is doing it.
Way to go Peggy and of course, little Olivia!

I actually started with a smaller mat/blanket, for a smaller Olivia.  I began clicking and treating when she looked at the mat, when she walked toward the mat, when she stood on the mat, and when she sat on the mat.  I actually then lured her into the down on the mat, but it may have worked better to just shape the behavior for the down on the mat.  I got a little impatient.  I'm not sure if I always treated Olivia on the mat.  In thinking back, I may have just treated her from my hand.  I think it would have been clearer to her if I had consistently treated her on the mat surface.  Using the lure may have slowed down the process because she was waiting for the lure to do the down at first.  I did end up waiting for her to offer the down. 

The finished behavior was Olivia getting on the mat and lying down to get a click and treat.  I then rolled up the mat with a dog biscuit in it.  She unrolled it to get the biscuit, ate it, and then looked at me and laid down, for more clicks and treats.  I think that behavior earned a jackpot!  I only rolled the dog biscuit in the mat a couple of times before rolling the empty mat.  Olivia unrolled the mat, sniffed it, and laid down.  About that time, she had grown a little big for her mat, so I had to switch to a larger mat and roll the biscuit in the larger mat again because at first, she did not unroll it all the way before lying down.  She made us laugh when she first unrolled the mat only about six inches and laid down on it.

Meanwhile, we had an additional thought:  Wouldn't it be cute if we could get Olivia to lay her head down on her paws?  I guess that will be the next step.

Great job Peggy, just keep on adding new behaviors!   

That’s what training is all about!   
Building on skills you already have!   
If you can imagine it, you can DO IT!

After all, it’s Only a Trick!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weasels On Wheels!!

Meme was playing with Vinnie and the Skateboard.

Guess Who wanted to PLAY!!!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Design - Shirt Order

Bill will be placing another order for shirts.  
(Shirts are at cost)

Please let him know if you're interested by 3/31/11

 Prices with tax included: (Men's sizes)

   T-shirt - $8.50

   Hoodies - $27.00

   Crew Sweatshirt - $22.00

   Zippered Hoodies - $29.00

  Long Sleeve T-Shirt - $11.50

(Sizes XXL or Larger add $2)  

Most colors available.  We've used the traditional (Orange with Blue) and (Grey with Blue).
Red with White, Navy Blue with White, Pink with Blue.

The old design is also available.
Just let Bill know which you'd like.