Friday, September 18, 2009

Skill Sets and Agility Work

We are now offering Skill Set Training for Agility. Having decided it will lend itself to a better foundation and overall agility performance we have split up time into...
Contact Obstacles.....Weaves/Jumps/Tunnels..... Small sequencing.......Crosses (front/back)....and more advanced work (competition courses, working away etc).
This should allow trainers to obtain some proficiency in work, while allowing them to move back when things are looking "lost". The skill sets are set up to progress from early learning to competition success....

Watch for stories of our agility hopefuls

Rose and the Bike

Rose, our border collie rescue client, is prone to over reactivity to bikes, skateboarders etc while walking from home to "work" and from within her owner's downtown business. So we set up some bikes for her last night.
Rose and her owner walked around our sheep pastures while my step-sons rode up and down the driveway on their bikes. Rose was walked up until just before her big reaction, and given a reward while still in a calm state, then turned and walked away. This continued in one spot for awhile, they then moved to another location so Rose did not just "get the game". By the end of class she was able to be within only several feet of the moving bikes and would look at them then back to her owner for feedback!
Rose really has come a long long way since we first met only a few short months ago! I am proud of both her and her owner for all their hard work.
Now to see how she does in the shop over the next week or two....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Skill Sets In Action...Behavior Modification

Rose, a lovely little red border collie who is a rescue, has been attending classes with her new loving owner with a small list of issues to conquer. Reactivity being one.
Rose and her owner have been working on the "who (what) is that Rose" game to allow Rose the opportunity to acknowledge other animals or people around her without the frustration of being told no or being asked to do something else.
Every time Rose wants to charge at, pull toward or react in anyway to someone near by, her owner simply said "who is that Rose" and clicked and treated. Rose went from "having to get to" the other to making half-hearted attempts and would return to her owner at the sound of the clicker.
In class last week a new dog entered Rose's Skill Set Level, and Rose wanted him in the worst way. Her new classmate is Max, a 8 month old lab, who is all too willing to charge back and play. Both dogs were working on their "manners on lead" and paying attention to their owners, all while outside on our 10 acre hobby farm (where I raise Australian Shepherds).
Rose made a HUGE break through when working loose lead walking past Max she looked at Max then immediately back at her owner with no attempts to romp, pull, jump, play or react! Rose got it! It is ok to see him, it is ok he is there and there is no need to be frustrated because if you really really need to see him you can..the choice is yours!
I was so happy to see how working to a certain level and continuing to work only a small set of behaviors has allowed this once unruly girl to make huge strides forward!
We shall see what this week shall bring as yet another little dog joins our this level. It is truly a great experience to watch them grow-dog and owner alike!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Skill Set Training

In order to better serve my clients I have begun a new training system. I have done away with formal class sessions and have gone to an "open gym" set up with times available. Each time slot is dedicated to a set of "skills" that are worked on at that time. Owner's pay for 4 sessions of time and can use them at any time, thereby losing nothing if they cannot make it one week. The team remains at a skill set level until ready to move on (based on my recommendation) to the next one. The goal is to create a team with proficient behavior management skills without overflowing the learning bucket with too many things at one time.

The huge difference in the relaxation and calm of the owner's is fantastic as the element of "competition" has been removed. No more trying to "keep up with the Jones' " as everyone is on a level playing field in each session.

The huge difference in the behavior of the dogs is also incredible as they are allowed to master only a few behaviors at a time vs trying to get a host of them under control in a short time frame (6-10 week class). Dogs are allowed to repeat exercises with a good amount of success in the learning process as they are only mastering a few easy to attain skills. (Easy because they have the needed time to deal with them, with dogs of like skill level.

This makes for a much calmer class, where owners are getting what they need out of the program without being rushed or held back by the students around them.

I shall start tracking the progress of individual dogs -- named by XYZ to allow the innocent to remain nameless!

Check back....

Training The Dawgs

I have been working with Paris on the relaxation and trying to obtain quiet, some luck but she is still the barker of joy. I have decided to use my old "muffler" technique and will be teaching her to retrieve. This tried and true method worked wonders on my old blue dog, so Paris shall be conditioned to pick up an object when she wishes to bark. In with the new....ignore the old.

On another happy note I have been working with Hudson and his stock pen work. With a year plus off from my injured reserve he needed some work. So work we will do. I set him up at the take pen and with the excellent advice of my good friend Kathi, we worked on a figure 8 of sorts using the take pen. Go By into the Pen, Away To Me on the outside repenning the sheep. This has helped make him a calm pen handler as he is brings them out and rounds them up immediately. The idea is to have him calmly remove the sheep from the take pen, then bring them back under control while I close the gate to the pen. With sheep near and under control and the dog calm, we can then begin to move around the pen. We even worked both sides of our take pen so we could do this with gates that open both directions to avoid being "onesided' gate workers.

The true test is coming, as we are entered in a trial on the 12th and 13th.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Paris Update

We continue to work with Paris. She has the choice to bark or come sit quietly for a treat whenever we have any type of "change" in the environment. This can be someone coming or going, someone getting out of a crate, me moving from room to room. We also have been working hard on "Settle" so Paris now sits quietly upon hearing that term.
Her behavior change has been incredible and she barks a fraction as often and for no where near as long.
She has shown that ignoring the bad and highlighting the good work, as well as offering her the option to do what I want or not.
I am very happy with her progress and look forward to a bark free girl.
Now to curtail the rest of the pack and keep Ketut from following in her footsteps.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I almost forgot. Last night I began teaching Paris to "touch" my hand. I was using her as "model" in class. She had not done it as of the class so was planning on showing everyone how to shape this behavior. The second I extended my open hand Paris reached out with her little muzzle and tapped my hand with her right on! Click, treat. Hand again, yes "touch" click --treat! Paris is going to be a dream to train as she catches on quickly and likes the game of "being a good girl". She eats up praise as well as treats which is great for our no more obnoxious barking.

The AHA Moment!

I walked in the house today with my clicker in hand, timing is as Paris began to bark but was not too frantic yet, I gave a click and said good...she shut up and came and sat giving PERFECT eye contact! She has done remarkably well I must say! I am totally impressed with her "debarking" sessions and turn around.
Now to begin more fun stuff! We will be beginning agility and Rally training...oh my~

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Paris' Big Night in Class

I have been working with Paris on some relaxation exercises and trying to get her to just focus herself instead of mindless barking. I have also been working on really catching her being quiet and have noticed the amount and intensity of her barking have gone down.
Sunday we added some stock time and allowed Paris to work sheep for awhile, which helped with her frustration level from inactivity. Her PCL surgery seems to be holding up and I did not notice any signs she was in pain or having issues with her knee.
Tonight she joined my behavior modification class and we worked on focus, targeting, settle mat, no attention for barking at other dogs, lots of attention for attention on me. She did outstanding and really enjoys working.
I plan on posting our Relaxation Protocol notes soon.
I am happy to say Paris should do well with her barking rehab!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ted Turner

I dug out old video conferences and watched tape 2 of the positive training with Leslie Nelson, Ted Turner and Patty Ruzzo (sp?) series. Ted Turner's info is really good and a great reminder of things, and a new (old) perspective on things. There will be some changes in my programs and the classes as well as my own dogs' sessions.
One thing he discussed was why "Jackpotting" is a bad plan in training of any animal. Jackpots tend to make some behaviors a high motivation behavior and others a low motivation behavior and that makes sense. Why would a dog give you an enthusiasm for a behavior that pays minimum wage when another pays out like winning the lottery. I can see this in Trivia's down vs sit. She will throw herself into a down and a sit is like pulling teeth. I had used jackpotting to get downs way back when (she is 7) and sits were a low payout behavior. She downs like a fiend, stands and stands until she finally feels like sitting. The dilema is do I know go back do some jackpotting for sits at the risk of needing it for everything or a quick jackpot session to rev up a sit and then back to the same value for all behaviors? I can totally see why you would want equal value placed on all behaviors.
Today's plan is to do some tracking with Trivia, and maybe some fast sit sessions to get a more enthusiastic sitter.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day Two of Paris' bark rehab

Thinking much of her barking is due to a bored and frustrated mind, I took Paris out to work weaves and did no luring but rather made her think what I needed. We worked them for about 10 minutes and did some teeter work. I then took her to the sand/gravel pit we were bidding a job on and let her run around in the pit working on "checking in and reorienting". She did a fantastic job. She run all over then come charging back and sit looking up at me. So she got a lot of click, praise, pet. The pit owner's wife had her Bichon/Papillion cross along, who Paris wanted to play with, and Paris did wonderful "leave it's" as the little dog was not as impressed with Paris as Paris was with her. She has been a bit a quieter since getting some "work done'.
This weekend I plan on teaching her to pick and carry things as I used a "find it" and "take it" cue to get Indigo to stop barking with great success. So a change of the routines and rules should also help. We shall also officially begin the Relaxation Protocol.
Fun fun and Good Girl Paris for being so enthusiastic to work adn learn and understand what is an appropriate inside voice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Paris's Barking Behavior Modification Program

I decided to follow a friend and blog my progress on my girl Paris. She has developed a wild and frankly obnoxious barking. We will begin using the Relaxation Protocol from Karen Overall's book Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals to start.
Today when I got back from a state certified payroll training, I took her for a walk and we worked on clicker awareness and leash manners in exciting situations. She had that down, when her leash got tight she would turn around and reorient to me, sometimes sitting other times just looking at me awaiting her click -- treat. Sometimes the click was good enough and she was back walking and sniffing.
I am sure due to lack of "work" due to her PCL surgery followed by my back surgery she is going nuts, so we are about to embark on our journey of behavior mod!
Wish us luck...