Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lok wants to play

Last night, Lok wanted to play with Elo. He walked towards Elo, who ran away and growled. Not being able to see what was going on, Lok interpreted the fast movement as play and kept chasing him. Actually, Elo was chewing on a rawhide and wanted Lok to get away from him and leave him alone. But I could not convince Lok of this. He was thrilled that someone was playing with him from once. So I had to put him in a crate.

When the other dogs play, Lok barks at them. I'm not sure why. Partially, I think, because he wants to play. Partially out of frustration that he doesn't know what's going on around him and can't control it. So I have to put him in a crate. Cause he won't stop barking.


Monday, February 15, 2010

A reminder

Reading PMcC's blog, I saw this in the comments and thought it was stated so perfectly:

"Dogs are not capable of being disobedient because they cannot understand a 'duty to obey.' Likewise, dogs don't understand a 'command' as a 'command.'

Since the day I figured that out, I have not given my dog a single command, and he has never disobeyed me. Instead, he is just more or less reliable for a given 'cue,' and needs more training--and that's my problem, not the dog's."

Even more impressive, I think, because this comes from a person training their dog for field work and that person specifies with pride that he uses no e-collars or force fetch.

When, if ever, corrections are needed and when, if ever, they are appropriate or useful is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I was recently told that I needed to cause my puppy pain and make him afraid in order to housetrain him, that it should only take once, and that he should never have an accident in the house after that. While I found this advice ridiculous and objectionable on so many levels, I actually considered it. Not that I think it's the best way to housetrain. I would always prefer to train without correction. But maybe it is the fastest and most effective, and if so, why would I not use it? After all, I've never tried it, so how can I know? And the giver of the advice swears it has worked perfectly multiple times over.

Thankfully, I have not tried it out, as I haven't needed to. Puppy has been with me for a little over two weeks and I think his housetraining is going well. We've had a couple frustrating days, but since then I've stepped up my vigilance and the frequency of potty breaks and we've had very few accidents. I've also been keeping him in his crate longer and longer and he's learning to hold it better. Dex is great about pottying as soon as I take him out. In the past two days, the only accident we've had was totally my fault. I took him out to pee, which he did, then I called him back inside. He ignored me and started walking the other way, so I went and grabbed him. (He knows his name and recalls well, and I didn't want him to think he could get away with ignoring me.) I brought him back inside and he immediately pooped on the carpet, which I assume was the reason he walked away from me when I called him. He wasn't finished. How unfair would it have been to punish him for ignoring the recall or to punish him for the accident when all along he was just trying to do the right thing and it was me that screwed up? Since then, he has showed me how well he understands housetraining. I brought all the dogs out for one last potty before I left for work this morning. Dex got caught up playing and forgot to pee right away. As I was calling the dogs in, he stopped on his way and peed, clearly understanding that was supposed to be done outside and making sure it got done before he came in. Good puppy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pushing Boundaries

Nobody's actually pushing boundaries. Well, not in any specific way. I guess my dogs are always kind of pushing boundaries. But it seemed like a catchy title for a follow-up boundary training post.

Tried the free-shaping "broom on the floor" method with Jun again last night. No luck. So I worked on my height barrier idea. I brought her into a bedroom where I could completely block the boundary and set up two yardsticks in an X across the doorway. Not a solid barrier, by any means, but a pretty obvious one. This seemed to work a bit better, but I guess she was kind of pushing the boundary as she had a tendency to want to LEAN on the barrier. I had to make sure my criteria was "not touching the barrier at all" but even so, she got as close as she possibly could without touching. I'm not sure if this was the right thing to do, but when I released her to cross the barrier, I didn't take it down first, I asked her to jump over it. I want her to realize that she is physically capable of crossing the boundary, but choose not to. So, I guess it went okay, but she still wants to get as close as she possibly can to crossing the line, just like when we were working it without a physical barrier, she always had to have her front foot JUST across the line.

Her stays have been so good lately, I'm not sure what her hang-up is here, but she's really just not getting the concept. I always know with Jun that if she's taking longer than a couple sessions to at least start to catch on to something, that I need to find a new way to communicate the idea to her. Once she "gets" it, she always wants to do it right and very rarely tries to half-ass anything.

In Dexter news, on the advice of a friend, I left him in his crate all night last night. I expected to wake up and have some major cleaning to do, but he slept all night, no whining, and no accidents! Since he had been peeing at least twice a night and usually pooping once, I had figured he wasn't capable of holding it that long, but I guess he is.

And in other Jun news, Andrew you will be so proud of me. With Jun's RLV, I didn't even give her the chance to screw it up again. I backed up, started from the very beginning and worked the whole process again. And I will do that every time until I KNOW she'll get it right on the first try. I'm betting we'll have a RLV by pet expo!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box

Jun has been challenging me lately. Forcing me to think outside the box. Luckily I'm up to the challenge.

First of all, with her vaulting. I've been trying to get a reverse chest vault and a reverse leg vault for ages, but she will never bring her back feet up and use them to push off of me. So, I started trying to train it with treats, just like I've trained all of her other vaults initially. She got to the point where she would do her RCV and RLV properly for treats, so I got out a disc, and it immediately fell apart again. Hmmm . . . what to do? Well, after some testing, I realized that it's not just asking her to vault for the disc that causes her to lose her mind and lose all track of her feet. It's just having the disc out, anywhere near her. So we went back to vaulting for treats again. Once that was solid, I got out a disc, put it on a table across the room, and asked her to vault for a treat. Her vault totally fell apart, so we worked on it until she calmed down and started thinking again and doing it properly. Then we moved to me holding the disc in my opposite hand, behind my back, still vaulting for a treat. Same issues, and worked through them again. Finally last night, we moved to vaulting for the disc, and she DID IT!!! Her very first real reverse leg vault WITH a disc, pushing off with her back feet like she is supposed to! I was pyched!

Also, I've been working on boundary training with all three dogs, thanks to some inspiration and instruction from Laura. Since I've used and abused "wait" and "stay," I finally came up with the command "fence," since essentially I wanted it to be like there was an invisible fence along the boundary. Elo is doing great! It's so cool to see how well he really understands the concept. If his feet are right at the edge of the boundary and he wants to lay down, instead of sliding his front feet forwards, like he usually does, he will scoot his butt back so his feet don't cross the border. Too cool! Lok is doing well too. Jun on the other hand, does not get it AT ALL! And she is usually my quickest study, so somehow I'm not communicating to her very well what I want. I tried laying a broomstick on the floor along the boundary line, but it didn't help at all. So now what I'm trying is just free shaping the idea of being on the opposite side of a line from me with a broomstick in the middle of the living room. She might have started to catch on a little bit . . . I'm not really sure. If that doesn't work, I think my next step is to go to a higher boundary--something that she actually has to put some effort into stepping over--and gradually lower it. Unless any of you have any other ideas for me.

Finally, I still have Dex. Housetraining is going well. Regular training is going okay. I am amazed at these people on the border collie forums who supposedly have their puppies trained in ALL the basic obedience commands by ten weeks old. Seriously? Dex has the attention span of a gnat. He "knows" sit (I hesistate to use the word "knows" since he only knows it when he wants something from me, and even then, it's iffy. He is getting better at offering eye contact. He is getting better at responding to his name, but if he's distracted--no way! We are working on "lie down." He wouldn't offer it to me. He just kept sitting and starting at me, since that was what I had rewarded in the past. So I'm luring it, even though I hate to. One thing he has gotten really good it is the dinnertime routine. He is expected to sit and wait, with his food bowl in front of him, giving me eye contact, until I release him to eat. We have just recently gotten the eye contact part, but the first day I added that as a criteria, it was so funny . . . he sat and stared HARD at his food for several minutes, clearly exercising every bit of puppy willpower he had not to start eating! Funny! Now he quickly gives me eye contact and gets released to eat.

Monday, February 1, 2010


This little guy has been living with me since Thursday. He is a 10 week old border collie mix. Possibly mixed with springer, based on the look of the other pups in the litter. He is available for adoption through Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota. His litter name is Freeze, but I accidentally called him Dexter once, I think because he reminds me of Food Lady's pup, (not sure why, he doesn't really look anything like FL's Dex) and it kinda stuck.

He is incredibly calm and laid back. Hasn't been much trouble at all. He's technically my first puppy, so I'm learning all about housetraining. Took awhile to get into the swing of things, but I think I'm getting it down pretty well. The other dogs love him and are great with him. He's ridiculously cute, especially the way he thinks he needs to take a giant leap off the deck, even though the snow comes up level with it and he could walk off. Giant puppy leap, every time. When he's not sleeping or sitting and staring at me (border collie much?) he likes to zoom around the house. He loves food and treats and is already learning to sit and wait for his food bowl to be put down.