Well this week came and went with only two days of training.  The excuses are many but for me it came down to not taking the time last Sunday to write out 5-10 days of my daily session plans.  I managed to do one session on Apr 18th mainly because I had written out the steps in last week’s blog!!   With both Marley and Loki, I worked through steps 1, 2 and 4.

Step 1:  Working outside place the article on the ground:

  • Cue the nose touch
  • Cue the down
  • Reward heavily at first to build value for lying down at the article

Step 2:  Practice the article indication game outside just like I did in the house; add the cue ‘search’

Step 3:  Put each dog on leash and practice the game

Step 4:  Play the game but place the article against the gate

Here are the videos of Marley and Loki.  At the end of each segment, you see the routine I have put in place to tell my dogs the training session is over.

I will be away from Wednesday to Friday this week but before I go, I will do steps 1 – 4 and add in step 5 and assess.

  • Step 5:  Put two hot dogs on the ground approximately 12” apart leading up to the article

This week, I will also focus on nosework.  I have entered Loki in a local UKC Nosework trial hosted by the Kootenay Scent Hounds (you can find them on Facebook) coming up on the 28th of May.  I am hoping to get our Advance Interior title.  We can do it, I just need to get my plan on paper!

Thanks for reading and happy training!

I have always wanted to teach Marley to track.  I bought a few books but they sat on my shelf collecting dust.  A few years ago, I purchased a DVD call Tracking 2nd Edition Hydration Intensified Tracking Training by Steve and Jennifer White.  I liked the approach and last year I started working sporadically with Marley and Loki.  Steve White presented the concept of training tracking in modules: 1) nose down on pavement, 2) article indication.

I was working with both dogs on keeping their nose down on pavement outside and working on building value for article indication inside.

This week I decided that it was time to combine the two skills so I went outside.  The first thing I did was to play the article game without the track (touch article with nose and lie down).  Then I tethered the working dog and laid a short 12’ track with hot dogs spaced every 12” leading up to the article. Both dogs did well following the hot dog trail but when they reached the article, they didn’t know what to do.  I cued the DOWN but it took some prompting and re-cueing to get the behaviour.   Here is the video.

I am not surprised by the results because dogs are not generalists; they are very context specific (see the end of the article for an example).

Neither dog understood the concept: lie down at the article after following a hot dog track.  The problem was too many components (criteria) were changed all at once.  What was different?

Article Indication Track with article indication
Desired behaviour:  touch article with nose and lie down with article between front paws Desired behaviour:  Follow a track to the article, touch the article with nose and lie down with article between front paws

What was different?

Indoors Outdoors
Article tossed Article at the end of a track
Off-leash On-leash
Less distractions More distractions
Article not near a barrier Article near a barrier
Cued ‘search’ No cue

Training Mantra

Failure is information, not disobedience; it shows you situations where your dog doesn’t yet understanding what you are asking.

The initial transition was too hard for both of my dogs.  So here is my plan to help my dogs succeed:

Step 1:  Working outside place the article on the ground:

  • Cue the nose touch
  • Cue the down
  • Reward heavily at first to build value for lying down at the article

Step 2:  Practice the article indication game outside just like I did in the house; add the cue ‘search’

Step 3:  Put each dog on leash and practice the game

Step 4:  Play the game but place the article against the gate

Step 5:  Put two hot dogs on the ground approximately 12” apart leading up to the article

Step 6:  Try a 12’ track with hotdogs spaced 12” on average with the article against the gate

The plan may need to change as we go along.  At any step, if Marley or Loki struggle with the behaviour, I will need to break it down even more.  There are always ways to help our dogs succeed!

Thanks for reading and happy training.

*An example of context specific training:

In your kitchen, wearing your bathroom, holding a piece of toast in you left hand and saying the sound ‘SIT’. Dog understands put bottom on ground.

Change one or more of those components: you are at the front door, wearing your gardening outfit, holding a leash and saying the sound ‘SIT’.  Your dog gives you the ‘what are you talking about look’ or as we know it ‘my dog knows this behaviour why is he being so disobedient?’

The good news is that the more you practice in different locations, wearing different clothes, different times of the day etc. the easier it will be for your dog to learn that the sound ‘SIT’ means bottom on ground anytime anywhere.

Right at the time we got Loki, I signed up for the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Professional Dog Training program; it was a six month program with four weekend workshops.  I signed up and naively wondered why it would take six months to learn how to train dogs!  Well it is five years later and learning about dogs, learning to train dogs and learning to teach people how to train their dogs has become a lifelong obsession.

During the KPA training, they constantly emphasized the importance of keeping a training log.  I tried different methods during the class but didn’t stick with any of them.  I signed up for Susan Garrett’s Recallers program.  She has a simple way to track your training.  I liked noting what went well and what needed work but I was still inconsistent in journaling my training sessions.

The biggest hurdle to consistent training was that I didn’t do any pre-planning prior to a training session.  6:00pm would come along (the time I generally set aside for training) and I found myself looking at my dogs thinking what should I train??  I usually ended up doing a spontaneous session working on whatever came to mind and not always making much progress.

Just recently, I came across a video by Hannah Brannigan reviewing the method she uses to track her training.  I downloaded her e-book because components of her method were similar to what I was experimenting with and so far so good!

What I have found really helpful is spending time at least one night a week completing the session sheets.  I fill out 5 – 10 of the sheets thinking about what I would like to train over the next one to two weeks.  Now when I want to train, I go to my first available sheet and there is my plan for the session all laid out. It has made fitting training sessions into my day much easier.

Once I have completed a training session, I make a few notes (including what went well and what may needed work), record what was trained in the monthly overview and I am done.

My next post will give you the first glimpse into one of my training sessions with my dogs.

Thanks for reading and happy training.

We all know that it is important to train our dogs but how many of us actual take the time to train our dogs on a regular basis.  I keep trying to train on a regular basis but I don’t always succeed; the excuses are many:

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t have time (am I repeating myself?!)
  • Did I say I don’t have time!?
  • I don’t know what to train
  • I don’t know how to train that trick, skill, behaviour
  • I’ve tried but my dog is too distracted, shuts down, is too old, is too young, won’t pay attention to me, etc

So I thought I would start writing a blog to document my training journey; the ups, the down, the success and in doing so, I hope to help you find the time (5 minutes will do it!), give you ideas, and provide encouragement to guide and support you on your training journey.

To start, I would like to introduce you to both of my dogs.

Marley SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAis 9.5 years old.  I always wanted to train him but when he joined our household from the SPCA at 5 months of age; I was traveling for a living, was home on weekends only, and couldn’t get to training classes (there wasn’t as much on-line as there is now).  I did train him to SIT, DOWN, and STAND with verbal and hand signals.  I had no luck training loose leash walking or a recall when he was younger (something I could easily do now!).  Marley loves being outside and is a confident dog who will walk and explore well away from me; there isn’t much that is more exciting for Marley than being outside off-leash.  When we are training, he is easily distracted.  I didn’t know that I could train him to pay attention to me when he was young and now that he is older it is easy to lose him during a training session if the training session goes on for too long (sometime too long is more than 30 seconds!) and training outside is a definite challenge!

Loki joined our household as an older rescue when she was 2.5 years old.  When we got her home, that exuberant and friendly dog turned out to have major dog related food and toy resource guarding issues.  She Happy Lokiwould turn on Marley and pin him to the ground if he was given food in her presence.  If another dog was in the yard and approached a toy, the same thing would happen.  If I tried to take her by the collar, she would turn and curl her lip at me with a definite ‘don’t touch me’ look.  With assistance from Jeanne at Love2Play, I was able to help Loki become comfortable with food and toys around Marley.  Over a year ago, I attend a Reactive Dog Class at Love2Play and discovered that Loki is also a fearful dog, sensitive to sounds and definitely not comfortable around other dogs.  On the other hand, she LOVES people and will jump up getting all four paws off the ground to bop them on the nose.  This is a behaviour that I have not been able to eliminate completely so now I work hard to manage it.   She loves food and learns quickly during our training session but I have to make sure I break the behaviours into easily to learn increments as she can be easily frustrated and will walk away during training if she doesn’t understand what I want.

My next post will talk about how I keep records of my training sessions.

Thanks for reading and happy training.

May is International Dog Bite Prevention Month.  Did you know that the majority of dog bites come from a friend’s dog or the family dog and that dogs never bite ‘out of the blue’?  Don’t be lulled into thinking that it won’t happen to your family.  Any dog can bite and anyone (even you or I) can be bitten.  To understand why, check out, ‘Do Dogs Bite Out of the Blue?’  http://www.dogsandbabieslearning.com/2010/03/27/do-dogs-bite-out-of-the-blue/

Your dog will tell you when they are feeling worried, frightened, or stressed; we just don’t know how to recognize and read the message.  Dogs communicate with their body language.  It is a rich and nuanced language that we will never be able to fully grasp being the verbal communicators that we are but there are some aspects that are easy for us to observe.  Below are a few resources that are well worth checking out (even if you don’t have kids!).

If you have children or grandchildren and a dog, the following video gives an excellent portrayal of what we consider happy childhood experiences with our dog but did you ever wonder what your dog might have been feeling?  Watch ‘Stop the 77’ to gain a new perspective.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABDrhNBwdpk

The ‘Stop the 77’ website provides a wealth of information to help you keep both your children and your dog safe. http://stopthe77.com/  Scroll down and print out the poster ‘Stay Safe around the Dogs you Know’ and watch the fun videos they posted.

On facebook, like ‘Proud of My Dog – dog training’.  Throughout the month of May, I will be posting other resources on how to have fun and stay safe around dogs.

Thanks for reading.

One of the best things that you can do when you bring a new puppy into your home is to provide her with a wide range of positive experiences.  She should meet a wide variety of people; men, women, children, people with canes, and people in wheelchairs.    She should have the opportunity to walk on unusual surfaces, go to different locations, and hear a variety of sounds.  The key to a confident puppy is making each experience enjoyable.  Thanks to the Pet Professional Guild, I can offer you a socialization check list with over 80 different exposure ideas.  Click HERE to download your free copy.

If you would like help learning how to raise a confident puppy or if you are not sure how create positive experiences for her, we are here to help.  Check out our Confident Puppy class or our in-home training programs.  Let us help you be Proud of Your Puppy!

I’m Proud of My Dog

…..well maybe not right now because he won’t come when called, and yesterday he jumped up on my best friend with his muddy paws (I was so embarrassed), and ….

What would it be like to have the ideal dog; the dog of your dreams, to go anywhere with your dog, to be amazed at what your dog can do and to have people rave about how well behaved your dog is.

This may not seem like a reality yet but we offer a variety of group classes and in-home training programs designed to give you the absolute best training experience for your dog.

Serving the North Slocan Valley, Nakusp, Kaslo and the Village of Slocan. Located in the West Kootenays, BC.

 Contact us to learn more