Friday, October 30, 2009

What We're Working On

Haven't done a "what we're working on post" in awhile. Probably because it is way too disorganized--it's terrible. This will be a long one . . .

We are working on ZERO obedience and my dogs no longer have any obedience or manners whatsoever. Except recalls. I require a recall. But the lack of manners is getting out of hand, so I'm making more of an effort to work on that. Except with Elo. He will never have any manners, since every time he does something naughty I just laugh. He cracks me up! Last night, I just watched and laughed as he pulled his crate cover into his crate and proceeded to shred it! The only thing he gets yelled at for is when he tries to control the action around him, growling at Jun cause he doesn't like how she's chewing her rawhide. Barking at Lok and Jun if they are playing. That's not cool.

But anyway, we'll start with the easiest first:

He finally has a "lie down" on cue!! We're working on proofing. With Elo, I'm trying something I really wish I would have done with the other dogs, that is, eliminating a stay cue and just teaching duration until released on a down cue. I've recently been exposed to some interesting theory about oppositional behaviors, so I'm doing some experimenting with teaching a release. I've never really "taught" a release before, my dogs have just kind of picked up on it on their own. However, I've realized that my dogs don't really understand a "stay" until they understand a "release" so I've been mulling over the benefits and drawbacks of actually teaching a release as a command. Not sure what I think about that yet. We're also working on proofing a down, that is, teaching "down means lay down wherever you are when I give the cue." That's going well.

Elo is also working on a back stall. He jumps up on cue "up-up" and can balance for a few seconds! We started doing some mat work last night--he picked up on that VERY quickly and it's actually helping him understand a down-stay. Don't know why I didn't start working on it sooner.

Elo knows his name, recalls VERY well (in the house and yard at least), gives up objects in his mouth willingly, and other than that, he is just a little punk. He's my pet dog. He's good at that.

I'm kinda just dabbling with Lok right now. We had been going back to working on a limp for awhile, but ran into some road blocks, so giving that a break. He's got his fetch from the fridge down! Working on proofing a "hold." I should have done a better job with this to begin with--he will hold objects, but he doesn't seem to like to, and he will mouth them. Working on a steady hold for duration. Also working on putting objects INTO my hand on a retreive with a nose target to my hand. I should be working on his "line out." I have the foundation behavior, I just have some kind of mental aversion to training that command. I'm not sure why. Probably because I've had such a hard time with it for a year. I also haven't work ski training at all. It's been raining ALL. MONTH. LONG. so we haven't had much time to go work on the trails. Hmm, what else? That's about it. Doing some proofing on other things. One thing I've noticed lately with Lok, with all the free shaping we've been doing, his frustration tolerance level has gone WAY up!! He will work with me for far longer than before and keep trying, keep offering behavior, whereas before he was more inclined to shut down and give up after a very short time. So, that's been pretty cool!

I've been working on way too much with Jun! We've recently conquered a back stall and a dog catch! We've been working a lot of freestyle and are beginning to get some of the foundational elements that will really benefit us in freestyle next year. We're working on vaults and got our very first back vault the other day! Her flips are starting to look great and just last night she did her very first flip with a throw instead of a take! Her understanding of switching targets is increasing! Our learning in this area has just been exponential lately, which is always really fun!

Jun has no obedience left at all right now, which I guess is bound to happen to when you spend so much time encouraging your dog to jump onto your back!! We free shaped a new trick: crossing her paws, and are working on putting that on cue. I've had the hardest time putting free shaped tricks on cue with her. If she knows we're working on that trick, she will just continually offer it. The usual method of ignoring the behavior if offered spontaneously doesn't seem to work well with her (but it could just be me not knowing what I'm doing). What I've been doing to combat the issue is first, asking for a single instance of the behavior randomly, then going on to other tricks before she has a chance to get into the cycle of repeatedly offering the behavior. And second, have sessions of working on the behavior where I actually mark and reward her for NOT offering the behavior, i.e., for just standing still and giving me eye contact, interspersed with the cued behavior here and there. We're also working on mat work. I'd like to be able to work with each dog individually while the other dogs chill on mats. We started working on a "service dog retreive" the other night too, and I got her picking up objects and holding them near my hand until I took them. That was pretty cool.

So, I guess that's about it. Good times!


  1. This is when I struggle with the freeshaping stuff... because I don't know WHEN to add a command for one, and he always does different 'versions' of the thing we're freeshaping and I dont want it to veer off into something different. That, and I don't always know what I even want in the first place.. Lol! Which I suppose at that point I just shouldnt even be training.
    At training last week, we worked on tug stuff. He actually didnt want to tug. It could have been the fact that we were on slick tile and he couldnt, but he would tug and then just drop it and walk towards me. This dog is difficult to read sometimes. Frankie has almost no obedience left either. I kind of ditched it for frisbee. Lol! As you could tell in Colorado... Lol!

  2. A couple rules of freeshaping: 1) have an end goal in mind and a plan to get there. Sometimes I just free shape whatever, just for fun with no plan of putting anything on command, just to watch the dog be creative. Sometimes they come up with something fun and then I decide to work on that. For example, the game "101 things to do with a box". Put a box (or any object) on the ground and click for creativity. Anything the dog does while interacting with the object gets a click, but the same thing doesn't get clicked more than a couple times.

    But if you want to work on a particular behavior, you should have a goal and a path in mind. Variations the dog offers you that aren't what you're looking for and won't help get you there don't get clicked. You add in the command after the dog is reliably offering the completed behavior. Then just start saying the word simulanous with or just before the dog offers the behavior. Once the dog starts to make the connection (for a dog like Lok, a couple repetitions, for a dog like Cooper, a million repeptitions) then STOP rewarding the behavior if it was NOT cued. Only cued behavior gets rewarded. And that's called having a behavior under "stimulus control."

  3. Nice job, Tania!

    Sounds like things are going well with the crazy misfit gang!! Can't wait to see Jun's flip and vaults next time.