Sunday, February 21, 2010

Field work

Today, Scorch and I walked out to the train track field in our neighborhood. His loose leash walking in the neighborhood isn't where I'd like it to be, but it's not a constant battle at least.

- Initial on-leash heeling took some work. He was distracted and I was impatient. I realized I was expecting too much and backed down my requirements, as well as upping my treats.
- 1st long line recall: perfect stay, seemed to be heading right towards me, and then blew past me. He got a stern verbal correction/reeling in, then I led him back to where he started and firmly told him to stay. I went out about 20 feet instead of 30 and called him. He came in slowly but accurately, and I CR'd and treated heavily. Subsequent recalls were good. I have begun weaning off of directing him with my hands to "front" and instead am keeping my hands at my side. At first, he would veer towards my right hand and sit crooked. I backed up repeating fronts until he sat straight, then CR and treat. At the final recall, he came in fast and sat straight, so I jackpotted and ended it there.
- Long line stays went well. I had his focus and he didn't get distracted by the scents around him. The first time I went around to return to heel, he got up, but after that, he held his stay. I did several returns without releasing him.
- Heel free: I felt confident enough to remove his leash. Heel free went better than leashed heeling. He had excellent attention, maintained position pretty well, and shined on the figure 8s. We'll work on heel free more often and I'm going to work on correcting with the leash less often during heel on lead.

What today showed me is that I need to focus more on short, frequent sessions. We're going to work by the train tracks as many days this week as possible. Our goal will be training in that field at least 2-3x a week, and adding one new location at least every other week to begin generalizing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

3rd Class

I was going to be so happy to record that Scorch made it through an entire class without snarking at another dog, but alas, he managed to get one in at the very last moment.

Class was great though! Only 4 dogs in class that night. Angie was out sick, but the assistant Mary Lou was there as well as puppy instructor Terry. I REALLY like Terry, and Jonathan agrees. He had some great insight, and really seemed to enjoy the dogs. I'd love to take another class with him, but I don't think he generally teaches advanced classes.

- Heeling around the ring was much improved. He forges a lot but generally keeps his attention and I'm having an easier time using my wrist on the leash to steer him into proper position. He's pretty good at the fast pace change, but kept trying to sit during the slow. Calling to front was excellent. About turn was pretty good, although Scorch can be a little frantic.
- Figure 8 was nice. My handling skills were pretty good I think. I maintained a consistent pace and Scorch did a good job of keeping his heel. Great halts.
- Stays were done next to Blitz, the intact ridgeback. I kept them about 10 feet apart. Blitz was up and down a few times, but Scorch kept his focus beautifully. During the down-stay, he got up to sniff some crumbs, but other than that his stay was flawless. He stayed when I returned around him.
- Recall was spectacular 3 out of 4 times. Perfect straight line, generally a straight front. On the 4th recall, he (for some reason) ran around the back of the assistant, forcing her to toss the leash over her head so she didn't get wrapped up. He still ended up with a perfect front, and gave everyone a good laugh. Hope that doesn't become habit though!
- The instructors talked about leave it/take it. I pulled Mary Lou aside and asked her about using the words "take it", because I'm teaching them in conjunction with the dumbbell. She and Terry agreed I shouldn't use it, and we came up with "here" when he's allowed to take the treats.
- I've been having a bit of trouble with stand. I have to put my foot out in front of him to make sure he doesn't step forward and it hasn't been sticking. Mary Lou told me I'd have to ask Angie about it, but said that Angie tries it during sit at heel and lightly taps their back feet to get them up. Even though I'd read that before, the way she said it finally clicked, and we got it to work. I was just patient and eventually got a kick-back stand, which I CR'd immediately. Then I continued to CR for a stand stay, and he held it long enough that I actually released him out of it. Success!
- Scorch's loose leash walking in the building was much better. I had paper towels as drool rags, which I used but his overall anxiety/drooling seemed to be reduced. At the beginning of the night, a few intact male dogs (including a young flat coat, 2 bull terriers, and a viszla) passed by and even sniffed him, but he maintained his focus on me. Blitz was near us several times during class, and he didn't react. But at the end of the night, Blitz passed very close while we were in a corner and Scorch reacted. I can't really blame him though. I should have been paying better attention.

This class has really made the obedience bug bite down. I think he might be ready to try for an RN soon. It's funny, because in showing Jack in UKC, I had to plan shows months in advance because there were so few anywhere in the state (and none were closeby). With AKC, there are a ton of shows coming up closeby in a very short time.

My list:
4/17-4/18, close 3/31

Zolfo Springs, Heartland Dog Club
4/24-4/25, close 4/7

5/1-5/2, close 4/14

St Pete (right before I go into my class at work)
5/8-5/9, close 4/21

6/19-6/20, close 6/2

Deland (only on here because it'd be cool to get Scorch's breeder out)
7/17-7/18, close 6/25

SOTC (my birthday!! how cool it would be to get titled that day)
8/21-8/22, close 8/4

And plenty more after that. My new goal is a CD and an RN by my birthday. I need to do his PAL registration asap. I need Bryan to help me set up pictures though. Fingers crossed. Lots of hard work ahead, but I think we can do it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

After class work

Accomplished today:
- Loose leash walking. That is long overdue without a prong collar. Working with a martingale. Started with sequence: leash tight, stop, Scorch looks back at me, CR and treat when he returns to me, resume walking. Definitely saw marked improvement initially. When responses began declining, worked on stopping and penalty yards. Wasn't much interested in treats.
- Sit stays on walk. This did help him resume interest in treats. Worked on staying across the street from barking pit mixes. Also seemed to help calm the fenced dogs down. First pass, Scorch was a bit stressed and had an initial bout of reactivity. Second pass, he successfully stayed although he turned his back on the fenced dogs and lifted a paw. The dogs went back to sniffing around their yard. Great use of calming signals.
- Returning to heel after a stay. Did 2 sets with treats in front of his nose. After that, just a verbal reminder of "good stay" and he held it perfectly every time. Calm jackpot. Worked it at several locations on our walk.j
- Stand. Worked on it in the house first and he was all over the place. Tried it on the walk and it went much better. Lured into a stand after returning to him on sit stay. He did a kickback stand perfectly and calmly.
- Take it/dumbbell. I've been working with shaping techniques, and he would tap the dumbbell with his nose but that was about it. Using Sue Sternberg's technique (sort of), worked on manual repetitions of putting the dumbbell in his mouth and quickly swapping it for a treat. Worked up to where he's reaching out and taking the dumbbell (and gripping about 50% of the time) reliably. Introduced the command "take it".

Recent pictures of Scorch, Wolfie, and Norman.


First 2 classes

It's been a long, long time since I've even looked at this. Time to resurrect it as my training diary.

After a long hiatus, Scorch and I are back in the training game. We've advanced to Beginner II class at SOTC (after trying Beginner I and discovering that we were skilled well past it).

Summary of our first class:
- Instructor Angie liked Scorch's name. She went around meeting the dogs and incorrectly called Scorch a "chunker". Once she put her hands on him, she realized he was all fur and is in stellar shape.
- Scorch showed a lot of frustration and anxiety with all the other dogs around. We worked on very tight heels/pivots to keep him engaged. Heel around the ring was mediocre. Auto sit at heel was good when focused or in a tight circle heel.
- Recall on a long line was stellar. He held his stay while I walked away, continually turning to tell him "good stay". He flew across the room when I called and landed in a perfect front. Repeat was the same.
- 1 min 30 sec group sit stay. He tried to lay down a few times but responded to a light pull up on the leash + 1 step towards him. He did not get up at all.
- 3 min group down stay. Perfect, with occasional verbal reinforcement.
- Heel up. Working on final positioning. He flips well but lands far back. Using luring to prevent him from getting incorrect positioning.
- Mild to moderate reactivity to intact male Ridgeback in class. Ridgeback is friendly but not well controlled.

Summary of our second class:
- Much more anxiety, drooling. Mild to moderate reactivity to Ridgeback, as well as small female Rottweiler. We worked on attention, CR (conditioned reinforcer) any time he looked at one of the dogs and then looked back at me without reacting. Also brought tennis tug rope.
- Heeling around ring was mediocre. Heeling in wide circles was better. Angie pointed out that I'm giving the CR when he's forging. She showed me how to lightly correct back with the leash to keep him in position. This forging seems to stemming partly from his anxiety. Auto sit was better.
- Group stays were good. I asked Angie if we could treat during the stay and she encouraged us to do so. He maintained his stay this time. Worked on holding the treat in front of his nose and returning to heel around him.
- Recalls on long line. He broke his first stay and Angie told me to enforce it. Perfect 1st front, 2nd needed adjustment. Still very enthusiastic.
- Worked on around the back finish. Not sure if "around" will be our word, although it's getting late to change it. Used to "finish". He quickly remembered how to do it, although still needs a treat lure to ensure proper final position. Worked on heel up as well, and discriminating between the two.
- Dog fight broke out between 2 intact males in the conformation class next to us. Heavy treat/CR with Scorch and then tugging with the rope. He handled it well, although all the class dogs were a bit shaken.