Thursday, 26 February 2009

"Listen to your name" (part of a multi dog house hold necessary training)

I hope to be training some bite work and to lay a track for Elsa tomorrow. She is still not 100 % and still on anitbiotics. Planning to train carefully, short track and just a few fun bites in the puppy cusion, more for technique than anything else. Poor girl has so much energy, just wants to come out and do something fun.

By the way, I have written an article in coming Boxer Quarterly regarding "myths about bite work". That can be useful to read for them who has an aversion against Schutzhund/IPO/VPG. I can't say any more since the magazine is not out yet.

I have bought the harder pillow and the puppy sleeve. I hope it will arrive soon so we can continue the training on them.

Today, I did some "listen to your name" training in my kitchen with Elsa, Stoli, Ida, Simon and Bill. Bill, being only 4 months old, is not the best in the world on waiting for his turn and to listen to his name :-).

The exercise looks as follows:

Call all the dogs to the kitchen. Have them sitting in a half circle around you. Drop a yummie treat on the floor. Wait. Call one of the dogs names + OK.

Knowledge each individual dog need to have fairly well first: Sit on command, drop treat, wait and take it on "OK" or whatever word you use as a finish word.

I am quick to reward the untrained dog for sitting when another dogs name is called. Almost push them back with a treat when they want to go. In this case I really only needed to concentrate on Bill. In saying that Ida tried to cheet a few times :-), my cheeky little girl. Full of fun despite being in the middle of taking care of five babies. Bill got the waiting bit very quickly but he still thinks every time I call any dog I must of course always mean him. That does apply in all situations, not only in this excercise :-). Little wonderful baby boy. Half trimmed with a fluffy bum. Poor boy. Hopefully I will do the rest this evening:-).

I give all the sitting dogs treats for sitting still while another dogs name has been called.

I raise the criteria when the group is more stable in the exercise - I stand behind them, threw a treat, call one, treats to the ones that are sitting still. Other variations can be - call a dogs name, do not say OK, instead say Lay down (if they know what Lay down means) and then OK. Or just Lay down and a treat for that while calling another dogs name and give OK for the treat. There are a lot of variations.

Important to not raise the criteria too quickly so you loose control and the dogs are taking the treats and possibly even fall out over it. If you find yourself trying to catch or having to say "No" to dogs that are trying to get the treat you know you have raised the criteria too quickly. Rewind and make it easier so the whole group understand what you want from them. You need to stay in control, make it easy in the beginning, both for yourself and your dog pack. If you do it regurlarly and hurry slowly (can you say that in English? or is it only a Swedish expression...?) and you will find that your dogs love it!

Very efficient exercise for individual listening training which is necessary when living with a pack of dogs.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

sit in front and update on elsas condition

Elsa is getting better for every day. I think she will be well very soon to be honest. Have therefore not given up the trial totally but I really need to check where we stand since we have not been able to train for a while. We needed these last couple of weeks to get in gear. I must be critical, if I do not think we stand a very good chance of passing, what is the point for us?

Anyway, if we are not doing it, I will definately be there to watch so I receive a clearer picture of what is expected from us. The club, South Valley Sports Dog Club, had a BH test run through today for all of us who has not competed in IPO/Schutzhund. I really appreciated that, I really appreciate how engaged these people are and how wonderfully they share their knowledge and experience.

Training today;
Coming in to sit in front with one hand up the air as added distraction.

She was very good, stared at it at first on the hand that was up the air, corrected herself and came in beautifully. My thought is to continue the distraction training, and when she figures out what to do I click her and give her reward. She is such a little thinker which make her so much fun to work with.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Elsa - "Operation" and the Hood

Well, well, well, you just never know what is around the corner. I am a great believer that success contains of hard work, talence, intelligence and luck. If you lack in any of these fields you will be behind. If you then are working together with somebody like a dog for example both of you that need to have all of the above criteria to succeed.

So what do I want to say in that; Elsa is not recovering from the Anal Gland Abcess just by anibiotics and anti inflammatory, she needed to be put under general anaesthetic and have it flushed and drained. All of it was done today. So she will, wheter she like it or not, be walking around with a hood on her head. Poor girl. This will take at least 2 weeks. I also feel a bit sorry for myself since we had planned to do the BH test the 7th of March at South Valley Sports Dog Club:-(. I do not believe we will have a remote chance to be ready for that now. We really needed those last two weeks to polish things.

I will anyway go and watch a friend of mine tomorrow doing protection work. And on Sunday I am going to look at a BH test run through for new people like myself. At least I can continue my own education within this even though Elsa is not fit.

Regarding the hood; I let it be out on the floor, everytime she nodge it with her nose she got a treat. This proved to work really nicely and the evidence was of course today. When I left her at the vet this morning, she wagged her tail and nodge the hood as soon as she saw it. Change of emotions around the hood.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


It looks like the abscess is getting better with the treatment so I hope to be able to train again in a couple of days. She has not got any temperature, however, I can see she is upset by it. It itches and annoys her. Therefore I don't want to do any training until it has gone down.

Elsa and the hood

Realized already yesterday that Elsa panics about the plastic hood. Tail between her legs and does not want to know about any hood. She runs away and hide. This is extremely unusual behaviour for Elsa. She normally trusts me with her life but not when it comes to the hood. When Stoli, the labrador, had a hood last autumn she didn't want to be near him. If he came closer she fled. Proper fleeing, doesn't want to look at the hood, tail between legs and try to get as far away as possible from it. Why does she need a hood now? Because of her anal gland abscess. However, she doesn't seem to need it at this occasion but I am pretty sure that at some point in her life whe will need to have a hood on.

I am trying to connect it to food in order to change her emotions around it. Swedish meat balls (from IKEA). It was not very successful yesterday, slightly better today. My plan is to have it on the floor, feeding her, holding it, feeding her and praize her. I am planning to do this later on again today and tonight. I will report further.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Training diary

Hi All,
This blog is not created for others as much as it is for myself. The reason for publishing my training diary via a blog is because I know there are people who are interested in what I do with my own dogs and how I think and train. This blog is first of all a training diary for my boxer Elsa (Thatledome Pride'n Joy) and our training towards different goals. At the moment it is high concentration on passing the BH test which we hope to do this spring. Welcome and I hope you will enjoy the diary.

General plan: PTA - Plan Train Analyse

Thursday 12th of February
-> See where we stand in concentrated heel work.
-> External rewards for heel work
-> See where we stand in sit from heel.
-> Sit in front.

-> Good, worked happily by my side. Lovely left turns and the right turns are really coming on.
-> I can have her sitting beside me and click her to go while concentrated. I cannot walk without a lot of negative demands.
-> Surprisingly good I must say. I don't know what I expected but I thought she would not be as quick to sit from heel. I have never really done it before so that was good news´.
-> Ok. She comes in and sits slightly far away and not really straight.

Heel work
Need to do a lot of work on the heel and still keep it fun. I know from before that if I am the slightest nervous, which I, believe it or not, become quite often, she reacts with calming behaviours, looking away etc. She reads me like an open book.

Two ways of getting over that, hopefully I will have the opportunity to do both parallell:
1. A lot of heel training so she feels very, very confident with what to do when she hears the word "Fot". That I believe will make it easier for her to retrieve what I expect even if I am nervous.
2. I also need to do a lot of work with her when I actually do feel nervous, short distances and rewards coming. I normally do get a little bit nervous when people are watching so I am trying to take that opportunity as soon as I can.

External rewards
She loves her ball on a string and has clear difficulty in letting it go from her eye sight. So far she can sit beside me in the heel work position until I click her. It is a struggle but she does it. Needs a lot more training. This is important since it lays a foundation for coming protection work as much as in general working concentrated even though distractions are there.

Sit From Heel
Remember to only command "sit" when the heel work is really, really good. So that it becomes a route to reward for really good heel work.

Continue to work on fast sits outside the heel work. Reward with ball behind her.

Sit in front
I have used my hands as targets before and I am now trying to work them to be hanging on the side. I do it bit by bit. Backlash is that she wants to be further away and she wants to look at the hand that rewarded her last time. I need to think through where and how I will reward her. Want to have her thinking straight on, almost through me but I want her to stop and sit down. I want high pace. She did well, considering the lack of training without my hands as targets. I will just continue the type of training. Lots of clicks and rewards when in the right position.

Also working on finsihing - So far with my hand as a target. Still need a small movement with left hand. Just continue that type of work and work away the helping hand bit by bit. Click and reward more for just sitting in front to avoid leaving that position for heel position.

13 Feb 2009
Idas puppies were born! 5 gorgeous ones! 2 girls and 3 boys.
Elsa got an anal gland abscess. Jeck! Hope for her to be well soon so I can continue the training.