Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Training Feb 7

Our schutzhund club training got a late start today, as we had changed times to accomodate helper and church schedules.  Before training began, a gal stopped out to meet Bart. We had met when we trained the drug dogs where she works, and after their home was burglarized while they slept, she decided it was time for another dog.  I was highly complimented that not only did she think of me, but when she called the police department to get my information they remembered me and gave her the contact info.  Yes, I know some people have unlisted numbers and guard their addresses, but my information is very public and if people want to come and train or buy dogs, they need to find me!  Many years ago, when we lived in Appleton, I received a phone call from a man, asking if my husband was home and when I said "no" telling me he was on his way over.  I replied, "good!  The coffee's on, the dogs are out and the guns are loaded; come on over!"  He quickly sputtered that he was my husband's former brother in law and that he was just joking.  Who got the last laugh on that one?  The punch line is actually that he does not know I was telling the truth....

When the lady inquired whether I had any dogs for sale and told me what she was looking for, I thought of Bart.  She met him today and fell in love.  If all goes well, Bart will have a new home at the end of the month.  He is the sweetest dog and deserves to have his very own people.  She-- Cindy--- stayed to watch a little of our training and meet some of the dogs.  We had a slim crew today due to SuperBowl and other commitments.

I have been thinking of taking Cooper to a UKC conformation show, so I worked on his stand for exam.  While he knows the stand, it is not entirely stablized yet and he gets "happy feet", stamping his front feet up and down in anticpation of whatever he thinks will come next.  Cute, but not what I need!  I thought to use a ladder, laying on the ground, to help him understand where his feet should be and that worked nicely because he could feel and be more aware of where those hind feet are.  We aren't to the point that I would trust him to remain in position as a judge examines him, so I might decide to wait a little longer on the show.  I did so want to get that over with, though....

One of the things I worked on with Cooper today was centering in the bark and hold.  I want him to understand that the bark and hold has a specific physical position attached to the behavior.  In working on this,  the helper would move between tables as Cooper was "barking him back"; the helper was seated in a chair with his legs apart so that Cooper had to center between his legs and bark OVER the bite pillow;  Cooper stood on an end table and did a bark and hold...   I was happy with his focus on the man, barking at him instead of the equipment.  We did a couple exercises for control, with Cooper in a down position while the helper moved around quickly and when Cooper held his position, I marked it with "Gooood" and the helper returned to deliver a bite. We ended with work on the transport.

Ridley only did protection work, with Sam using a arm/leg sleeve on a line.  She has such a nice, full and calm grip!  He would then swing her back into me and I would cradle her before he pulled her away again.   When we first did this, she would roll her eyes being taken away from me but now she doesn't care and is totally into the bite.  She has also learned to bring the toy back to continue the play.

Digit got to come out and assist with the training of one of the young dogs in the club.  He is 12 years old now and this is actually a role that I had turned over to Bart, but Digit loves to be included and Bart already has his turn at play today.  This young female GSD had reportedly thrown a hissy fit at the vet office, wanting to play with the other dogs and people there.  The owner had asked whether we needed to work on socialization and I pointed out that the dog has never acted aggressively toward people or dogs, but was simply acting out because she was unhappy being restrained from what she wanted to do.  One of the other issues at play was that it wasn't her handler who had accompanied her to the vet office so there was not the same relationship at play.  When the youngster came in to the building, she was indeed barking to engage play but I instructed the owner to have the dog sit or down and then reward with food for quiet and stable.  Another member handled a back line so that K. could keep her hands free for feeding and not worry that the dog would run off. 

With young puppies I like to teach them that other dogs are not rewarding---- only their handler is--- by giving them the freedom to go to the other dog (which MUST be a safe, neutral dog) who then sits and looks at his handler, ignoring badly behaving puppies even if they jump on his head (something Digit excels at) .  When the puppy discovers that the big dog is boring and turns away, the handler, who has moved to be visible to the pup but not calling it, then marks and rewards as the pup goes to the handler. 

This particular dog is around a year old and bigger than I like to have doing a free interaction, as she could actually jump on and hurt my old dude, so we kept her on a back line and made a different exercise.  In this one, the dog had to sit or down while the handler moved away from her and I moved around her with Digit.  To her credit, the youngster did very well.  She didn't bark at Digit and remained very focused on her handler.  Twice she threw a little rodeo act, throwing herself on the ground to avoid collar pressure on the sit, but once she discovered that wasn't going to get her out of it, she settled down.  So, the key to her behavior is to remain calm, give her a position you can reinforce; reward good behavior and give a consequence (in this case, simply marking "nope" and making collar pressure to replace her in the sit without repeating the command (which would then become a "do over").   If the owner desire to allow the dog to play with another dog, as she indicated she had done since the misbehavior, then her dog must earn this behavior by complying with obedience commands and restraining herself first.  Barking and throwing a fit will never give her permission to go play.

I had hoped to bring Quinn back to work on his Mondioring exercises with Dennis Bilik today but suddenly it was after 3 pm and I was out of time.  So instead, I practiced his contact-heeling, and on giving him a position between my legs on the whistle-back.  He moved a little closer to understanding, but it isn't there yet.  I have allowed and rewarded him to run through my legs and turn around so that he is back between my legs in his play recalls, but for some reason I decided to introduce the whistle back position by standing in front of him and having him move into that position, to be rewarded by the toy.  What I should have done-- and will try next--- is to show him the same picture he has seen before (duh!!) and will see in trial, and have him punch through, then turn around but on a whistle.  I practiced positions with him while on an end table and in a rocker/recliner, as well as on the ground. He is a happy, enthusiastic learner, which makes this all so much fun.  When Quinn comes out, his attitude is "what are we going to learn today?"  I can hardly wait for spring to arrive so I can start to do outside area searches with him again.  All the dogs love that exercise, using their noses to isolate the scent cone.

Training days are both long and tiring, and yet oddly quickly over.  Even with one dog, it helps if you go to training with an idea of what you intend to work on. Naturally, things can go off in another direction if you find you need more time on one subject than another, but it sure beats shrugging your shoulders when asked "what do you want to work on today?"  Be prepared by having your notes and all the tools needed such as toys, collars, long lines.  And then, when you are finished, make a note of what you worked on and what you intend to do next time.  You will find it not only streamlines your training process but serves as an excellent tool to review your progress. Happy Training!