Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When you're training to find keys, you may just lose them!

We're scent training! Yay! My dog will be able to find my keys and phone! 

My biggest difficulty in getting this started is exactly that, getting her started sniffing. I've got treats in my pocket and she's so focused on sitting nicely and waiting for my next command. But the next command is "find".  Find starts with sniffing and how do I get her to start sniffing? Dogs can learn by example and I did try sniffing the things I had placed on an ottoman. 

Incidentally I quickly realized I couldn't use a coffee table that prior to this I had placed as off-limits.  She was trained to not touch anything on that table, we had moved the table to a different room and I had forgotten. Shallie had not!  She was not going to touch anything on that table! Rather than retrain that the table was now OK, then train something new, I just used a large ottoman.

So now I'm sniffing stuff and Shallie is not. I sniffed my own phone and whew! The lotion I put on there that I used is way too strong. No wonder Shallie has an aversion to it! I've used the words, "Let's go see what's over here!" then realized she's following and looking at me because I've started with "Let's go".  I have to rethink every step of this training.  Lets face it, it's not like I have cougar urine on hand for her to sniff.

  •  I've wiped the lotion off my phone.  She can still smell the small amount that's there.
  •  I've placed a leather fob on my keys making it a more distinct smell for Shallie to find.
  • Wording to get started has now become "We're going on a treasure hunt!" and  "What's this?!" avoiding the other training words of "Let's go".
  • Going around the table and tapping near the items has helped get her sniffing. 
  • Exclaiming "Find!"  Keys!" then the marker "Good!" followed by a treat reward the moment she sniffs the keys, has also encouraged her to sniff.
  • Treats had to be placed on a shelf five feet away to keep her from focusing on treats in my pocket
  •  Leaving the items around and catching her doing it correctly has also encouraged sniffing. I've actually misplaced my keys by placing them in different spots around the house. :(
Training seems to work best in short 2 to 3 minute bursts through out the day rather than trying to set a specific 15-20 minute time frame.  It matches the attention span of the dog.  If I set it up that it can work this way, it'll make it easier to fit in training and accomplish something without being frustrated that I just don't have the time. Shallie is way more interested in learning something new when it's short, sweet, fun, and rewarding. If we stop training while she still excited about, she seems more likely to want to work with me the next time. I knew this before, but was thinking with more advanced training that it required more time. I had been sick and just didn't have the energy to train for 15 minutes straight. If I remembered to set things up ahead of time and break it into small manageable chunks of time, I would've been able to get in training where I wasn't able to do as much this week. It really is training for people and dogs alike! 
Any other ideas for getting the "find" command started?


Sunday, January 13, 2013

And we're back!

After me having a knee replacement back in Aug, we're back to training and boy, do we need it!  Shalimar has been having accidents in the house. She's sneaks off when nobody notices into the living room and does her business there. At Peggy's recommendation, we have had that dog tethered to one of us at all times since class last Thursday night & it's working!  No accidents!  We head outside on leash (we're fenced in & hadn't kept her on leash before) for 3 to 5 minutes.  If she doesn't go, we bring her back in & head out again a little while later until she finally toilets herself outside.  It's taken determination to have her attached to someone, ALL the time, but it's working and it wont be forever.  Glad to be back!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keeping up training while on medical "leave"

I had my knee replaced 5 weeks ago & things are healing slowly.
I'm so glad I took the time to teach Shalimar before my surgery that she must stay behind me when I go up & down the stairs. She's allowed to be one stair behind or farther, but not any closer.
The next command I really like is "time". Thank you Peggy for training on this command!  We've worked on this & did not give up until she got it. (That's pretty much the key to training, huh?). As Peggy taught us, we would say the word "time" and if she didn't stop or come towards us, we sought Shalllie like a heat seeking missile. There were a couple of times where she tested each of us & we had to hunt her down for 30 minutes or so.  Now she's got it & doesn't test it. It's a lifesaver when my knee is killing me & it's time to come inside & I don't have to chase down an active puppy. 
My latest "ah-ha" moment seems silly, but I was trying to work with Shalimar outside & wasn't getting great results. I suddenly realized I was wearing sunglasses & she couldn't make good eye contact with me. Once I took them off, she was great.
I'm looking forward to when we can get back to class. 
Here's a picture of Shallie "getting" the soccer ball. One of her favorite things to do! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Training Tails

Shallie is learning so much. We've worked on several areas. From a safety perspective she needs to not speed past us & tear down the stairs, both inside & down the deck into the yard. On-leash, she does great. Off-leash, I've called "OK" just before she runs down the stairs, so it seems as if I've permitted it. Any other advice on doing this off-leash would be terrific.

Shallie loves to jump around & chase butterflies & grasshoppers & whatever other insects she can find in the tall grass. Tonight I thought I'd share in that with her. (Im sure my neighbors think I'm crazy!) I started using my hand (my grasping tool~just like her mouth) to bat around the grasses & exclaiming for her to look  at what I found. She came bounding over to see what I had & we had a blast searching out fun stuff together.

I also tried clipping her nails for the first time. I did just one paw this time & made it a positive experience. She was hardly bothered as I clipped each nail & told her "good!" & followed up with a little bit of kibble. By the last nail, she didn't seem to notice. I should add that I've practiced holding her paws & touching her nails every day for the past month or so, knowing that I wanted to move to clipping her nails.  We've always had dogs that needed to be held down for this, so it's nice to have this be a pleasant experience for everyone involved!

The thing we need to do more on is the open doorway. We've done the 2 person/ 2 leash thing with duck, duck, duck, goose. Shalimar is getting the idea, but still wants to blow through the door if we haven't just practiced it.

On another note, I tried some horse training with my 23 year old palomino quarter horse. Ive had Ruffy for 20 years & over the past 10 years or so, he's tried to bite me when tightening up the girth.  He bit me in the thigh once & ever since then, he's kept on trying.  After talking with Peggy, I tried her advice. I started by associating my "good!" with a little bit of peppermint. (That took no time at all!) Since he's good with being touched anywhere & the problem only occurs when putting on the girth, I saddled him up & started to tighten the girth one notch at a time. Every time I tightened a notch & he didn't react, I exclaimed "good!" & gave him a little bit of peppermint.  If he reacted (turning his head like he was going to bite) I backed off to the first notch and started all over again. I was able to cinch him up completely twice. What a difference! I'm going to keep working on this, but it looks like he might actually associate standing still while being cinched up with getting peppermint & I won't be trying to jump out of the way of his teeth! Yay!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting started

Shalimar has been with us for 3 weeks & is adjusting beautifully!  It's so nice to have a dog back in the family again. (Our last dog, Bailey, was a150lb Lab/Irish Wolfhound Mix that lived to about age 14.) Shalimar or "Shallie" is a quick learner & very good natured. We've been to 2 training classes with Peggy Moran. Boy! Did I forget a lot! It's really training people to read dog behavior & learning how to respond. We've had to stop ourselves from saying "no" or "off" & looking for ways to positively reinforce good behavior. Naming the behaviors (i.e.: "jump!") is so much easier than yelling OFF at a sweet puppy. If it continues we're getting better at just crowding her out, so she has to get off of us. We're looking for ways to remove  possibilities for negative behavior. Shalimar has caught & killed 2 young birds & almost got another one this morning. (Flight school for these young birds has GOT to move along faster!)  To keep her from the birds, she's had to be leashed even though we have a large fenced back yard & for now we stay away from the nests. It defeats all training to be running behind her yelling "NO, NO, NO! while she's happily racing & jumping in the air to catch a bird & completely ignoring me. (Yes, this is what I did.) I need to ask Peggy what else we can do.  This is her natural response to wild life with a natural chase instinct, but we need to have live baby birds. 
We've been working with her on green light with giving her small treats & she's catching on that she needs to make eye contact before receiving the treat. We're also taking her to places to expose her to people, cars, & different sights and sounds with a controlled environment. Dairy Hut (Oswego's hometown version of Dairy Queen) is busy with loads of people & sometimes another dog to practice some training. She's very popular, so it works great to tell people that she has to sit to be petted. She gets special doggy ice cream with a bone in it, so cars driving on the nearby street aren't a reason to freak out & run crazily, but to settle and get some doggy ice cream. We don't use food much in training & most of the time she's not big on food as a motivation factor. (except Dairy Hut's special doggie ice cream. It's the best treat around.) The biggest difference has been to give her the long stroke kind of petting~like mom did instead of scratching behind the ears~like a canine sibling did to get play started. That has settled her more than anything.