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.