Carol Collett

Life as I know it

Archive for the tag “dog training”

Friday Favorites

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I love working with and training dogs. But the past year and a half I haven’t worked with ours much. It’s showing. Sometimes things in life require attention, and that’s been the case for me. But now that life is normal and okay and good, it’s time to get back to working with the dogs.

What I think I love most about working with dogs is the relationship, the teamwork. Just think about it-another species of intelligent animal wants to engage with humans in work and play. Blows me away!

I also love watching dogs figure things out. I particularly love scent detection work. Watching a dog find scent, then follow it to source, then tell his handler, “Hey, it’s here. It’s right here” fills me with wonder every time.

Below is a video of one of my favorites of Jack’s searches from Nose Work class from May 2013. This was a tough hide, but he worked hard, never gave up, and found source.

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Social Media Addiction

imageI love social media. For the most part. Yeah, I’m one of those who checks Facebook hourly. Sometimes more often. Okay, I’m an addict. Seriously. My perusing of social media takes so much time it prevents me from doing things I really want to do. Like writing. Like training the dogs. Like weaving chainmaille.

I’m embarrassed to admit it. Really, really embarrassed.

But I need help. I must break the habit. That’s why I’m going public with my addiction. That’s why I’m asking all of you to call me out if you see me trolling Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram too much. What’s too much?

Good question.

So here are my self imposed social media limits for the next two weeks. No more than 30 minutes per day on social media. All social media, not 30 minutes per platform.

During these first two weeks I’m going to see how much more of the things that are important to me I can focus on. I’m already focusing more on writing. I’m formulating plans for my chainmaille. On Monday I begin training the dogs again on a routine and systematic basis.

I am also going to search for apps that will allow me to schedule some social media posts. I do value interacting with friends and staying in touch with family. But what I admit about myself is that I have to limit my time on social media or I lose all focus.

In two weeks I’ll report in and talk about how it’s going.

What about you? Do you think you spend too much time on social media? Or do you have your consumption of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and all the others under control? How do you manage your social media time? What about your kids? Do you monitor their social media time?

Using Clicker to Train “Place”

One thing last night’s trick or treating brought home to me is that I must get back to training our dogs to go to a place on cue. The best way I’ve found to do that is by using the clicker. Damon, our little bully mix, is the most responsive of our three to the clicker. If he sees my with a clicker in my hand he immediately starts offering behaviors.

Last year I started training each of them to “place.” Such a helpful skill. I kind of slacked off on their training. So now we’re back to square one. Sigh.

Here’s Damon last fall with a nice response to “go to your mat.” We’ll get back here with all three soon.

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Do you have a place cue for your dogs? Have you ever tried clicker training? How do your dogs respond when the doorbell rings?

Let’s Go Sniff

Y’all know by now I’m enamored of all things canine scent detection. Nose Work, Barn Hunt, Tracking, Earth Dog-yep all of it.

So I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve let Jack’s Nose Work training slide over the winter. All kinds of excuses slithered across my brain. Too cold. Too tired. Too much trouble with all three dogs. Not fair to work with Jack, but not do something with the other two. Too hurried.

Yeah, you get what I’m saying.

I even used the excuse that I’m not going to trial him in Nose Work so why bother training. Yep, yessiree, I even used that gem.

And while that’s true-I will likely never trial in Nose Work-that’s no reason not to train. Especially not when Jack and I both love it. Well, maybe he enjoys it, and I love it.

So yesterday I broke out the birch, and we did a little work outside. Vehicles and exterior.

And, bonus! I used my GoPro with my new chest strap mount. Learned a lot from that exercise. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyhoo-here are two very, very short clips from yesterday’s work. These are the “source/alert” moments from two of the searches.

Two things I learned from yesterday’s video are: 1) you can learn A LOT from videoing your training sessions, and 2) Jack’s tail is part of his tell.

Tunnel Training

Really want to train Jack and Damon to participate in Barn Hunt. Part of the Barn Hunt course includes a tunnel made from the straw bales. Since neither of them has any agility training I was a little stumped on how I could train tunnels short of buying an agility tunnel or a bunch of straw bales.

But a friend and fellow dog enthusiast came to my rescue. She suggested a blanket tunnel using a dark blanket and chairs. Kind of like a blanket fort from childhood.

Perfect!

So while it’s quite different from straw bales, it will work for now.

Here are a couple videos from earlier in the week. The lighting is bad, and the editing app is a little odd. But I think you can get the idea.

Jack Practicing Blanket Tunnel

Damon Practicing Blanket Tunnel

We’ve got a ways to go. But it sure is fun to play!

Looking forward to another Barn Hunt practice.

Clicker Work With Damon

Damon’s my little clicker training rock star. He just gets it and enjoys it. He picks out the behavior I’m clicking within 2-3 repetitions. Amazing. I have to say I thought Jack would take to it better than Jade or Damon. Was I ever wrong. Jack gets it, but for some reason doesn’t seem to enjoy figuring it out as much as Damon. But I’m still working on it with him.

Here’s a short video of Damon’s work today. Most of the time we were working on the mat. What I want is for him to lay on the mat. Didn’t take long. Eventually I’ll add a cue to the mat and send all three to the mat when the doorbell rings.

Toward the end of the video I’m reinforcing some targeting we worked on a few days ago. In that sequence my hand is the target where he is to place his paw. Eventually I want to be able to hold his paw and clip his nails.

Looking forward to eventually getting a chest harness and head harness for my GoPro camera. I think that will make watching the dogs work much easier. More dogs. Less me. 🙂

You can watch the video here.

Make Lemonade, But Don’t Squirt It On My Dog

Have you ever been part of an online conversation with strangers with a common interest and someone posts something so offensive you think that maybe you really don’t have a common interest after all?

Yeah, that happened today.

There are several dog sports I really enjoy watching, learning about, and training for, even though I’m not trialing any of the dogs in them. I’m part of online communities for most of them. It’s a way to get to know people across the country involved in the sport and to learn.

In one of the groups, over the past couple of days there’s been healthy, spirited discussion about how to deal small groups of dog/handler teams who have to wait in a small, blocked off space for each of their turns to run. Lots of ideas tossed about, some better than others.

Until one really bad, really offensive comment.

Someone suggested keeping a bottle of lemon juice in a squirt bottle in this small space, and to spray a dog in the face if the dog barked constantly and would not calm down.

Lemon juice.

In the face.

Really?

And this is someone who trains dogs?

I’ve been to several dog events in several venues. Dogs bark. Cram strange dogs in a small, enclosed space and they may get a little uptight. Especially high drive dogs.

I hope I’m never at an event with this person, or anyone like her. It really made me reconsider my desire to get into this particular sport.

Oh, and I don’t even want to think of how I would react to someone squirting lemon juice, or anything else, in my dog’s face.

Clicker Training

Less than a week ago I enrolled in Karen Pryor Academy’s Dog Trainer Foundation course. Wow! It’s awesome. I’m learning so much, and I’m still in the first unit. I’m trying very hard to take my time, go through the material slowly. But it’s hard. I want to gulp it all in.

I’m not working with live dogs yet. Right now I’m practicing clicking then “treating” by tossing a dry bean in a cup. It takes more coordination than you might think to hold a clicker in one hand, click at the correct moment to mark the desired behavior, then pop a treat in the dog’s mouth one second after the click.

I will be practicing with beans for a few more days, for sure. LOL!

I’m so excited to see how this helps me train Jack, Jade, and Damon.

Putting Elbow Grease to a Dream

For a couple of years I’ve harbored a secret dream to delve deeper into dog behavior and learning. I’m fascinated by how dogs learn, and how they communicate with humans, especially when humans take the time to try to understand. I’m fascinated by watching how very quickly dogs respond when that communication goes both ways between the dog and the trainer.

I’ve read several books, followed several blogs, taken a few obedience classes with our dogs. But I still want more. I want to dig deeper into how dogs learn, and how positive training methods can be applied across situations.

So I’m finally putting time and money into this dream.

Next Saturday I’ll be taking a dog behavior seminar with Heather Moore of Wag It Better.

I’ve also enrolled in Karen Pryor Academy’s Dog Trainer Foundations course.

Excited doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this.

Nose Work Rocks

Nose work completely and totally rocks. I mean it. There’s just nothing like watching a dog use his nose to solve a puzzle. A puzzle that we puny humans can’t solve. We can just stand and be awed.

I read yesterday on Arson Dogs that dogs can detect  scents in parts per quintillion. Yeah, that’s parts. per. quintillion. That’s hardcore.

Worked Jack tonight on some single birch container hides, but made each hide a little more difficult. Or what I thought was more difficult. He didn’t seem to think so. Guess I’m going to have to try harder.

Worked Jade and Damon on single food hides, also containers. Jade is starting to get excited about searching. Damon’s enthusiasm is off the charts. He LOVES it!

Hoping to start training with a couple of other people so I can start trialing Jack, and maybe Damon, next year.

Will record some of our training soon.

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