Saturday, November 27, 2010

Training Log for Nov 27

This morning we worked on Sit, Stand, Down at a distance, and Front on the street in front of the house.

This afternoon we took the dummybag to the driest field we have close by, as mud and consequently a very hard to clean black dog is not my idea of fun. We live on clay here, and wet clay sucks. ;-)

On the way to the field, about a 15-minute walk, we worked on Sits and Downs at a distance while Luna was trotting and running ahead of me. She did great! And the coolest thing I’ve discovered is that I can now say ‘Sit’ and she’ll sit without any sign of avoidance or discomfort. ‘Sit’ is our traditionally trained word for the Sit, and before, when I would use it, she’d sink into a sit, yawn and look away. Or worse, she’d lay down. Now, she gets the ‘yay, she asks me to do something!’-face and she does a perky Sit with no more yawning or looking away. Whoohoo! Took about a year to get to this point, but now I can clearly see that Sit=Fun hugely outweighs the Sit=Bad association. Classical Conditioning at its best!

Now, she will occasionaly still lay down instead of Sit, but that’s clearly an ‘I’m SURE you want me to Down’ rather than a sign of avoidance or feeling intimidated. In other words, it’s because she’s not listening to the cue.

On the field, we first did dummy retrieves. The first was simply the dog sitting at heel, tossing a dummy out ahead of us, and asking her to retrieve it. Repeated that another time. Then, I asked her to Sit, walked about 15 feet away, then tossed a dummy to the right. Asked her to come to me, turned to face the dummy and sent her to retrieve it from a Sit at heel. Repeated the same exercise with a dummy thrown to the left.

Then, I again placed her in a Sit, walked 15 feet away, tossed a dummy to the left and one to the right. Called her to me, lined her up and sent her to retrieve the 1st thrown dummy. She remembered it and went out in a nice straight line at good speed. Once she brought in the first dummy, I lined her up with the 2nd dummy and asked her to get that one. Again, success!

The last exercise I put her in a Sit, walked 15 feet away, tossed one dummy behind me and one to the right. First, I asked her to retrieve the one on the right, and then I turned with her toward the dummy behind me, and asked her to get it. She did it! Whoohoo! And, another thing worth mentioning, she delivered every retrieve right into my hand. Good girly!

With that, we quit the dummy retrieves and I tossed her ball a few times. Then, we spent some time playing with the ball, doing Leave It’s as I tossed it, throwing it as a reward for Sits, Downs and Stands, and I tried to get her to ‘speak’ by feigning to kick the ball a few times and saying ‘Whatdaya say?’ This gets her all revved up and every time she barked once, I kicked the ball. Great fun!

Then, I put the ball about 30 feet away and laid a track of kibble every two feet toward the ball while Luna held a Down Stay. Then I asked her to come and use her nose. She wanted to go straight for the ball, but then she caught scent of the kibble and put her nose to the grass. Yay! By the time she got to the ball she was so engrossed in finding the kibble that I had to tell her to get the ball, haha!

To finish, I laid a second track on pavement while Luna held a Sit Stay, about 40 feet with kibble every two feet. She did this one nicely again, overshot some of the kibble but then went back to collect it. She was a bit scattered throughout, so next time I’ll lay the track as Steve White does, which in the beginning is just a line of non-stop treats. He also uses water, which we might do too.

Then, on the way back home, we ran into a friend with a German Shepherd and we ended up going along on her walk, so all in all we had two hours of activity! Nice!

The picture shows Luna on her 2nd birthday, my little wolf! ;-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Still overfeeding.

Oh! Aha!

I just weighed Luna again, and once again the scale said 70,5 pounds. Huh?!

So, today I did another calculation of how much food she's supposed to get, and I come up with 246 grams. In other words, she's still getting too much food (I was giving her 300 grams). Also, I'm thinking maybe this food is too rich for her. I don't want to feed her a tiny bit of food just so she won't gain weight.

Also, to give myself more room for treats other than her 'boring' - for which she works way too well - kibble, I think that when this bag of food runs out (I'm guessing another week or so) I'll put her back on the pre-ground raw meat mix I had her on before the kibble. Then I can use cheese, ground beef and chicken as treats (the raw mix is way too gross and stinky to use as treats, takes all day to get the stench off my hands!). AND she can eat a larger volume of food. AND she did fine on the pre-ground mix (that's what she was on in April).

Why did I change to kibble? Because I couldn't figure out how to have handy treats AND feed her the raw mix, without overfeeding. Now I've figured it out! So, in about two weeks she'll be back on the 'good-old' raw mix, and I'm really curious to see how she'll do!

Thanks for reading my food rambles. ;-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wordless Thursday

For comparison with the picture in my previous post which shows Luna at her ideal weight (61 pounds);

This is Luna last July, at 70,5 pounds. I'll put her on the scale again tomorrow, but she already looks better now than she did in this shot!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Training Log for Nov 23

Worked on Heel, Sit, Stand, Down, Front, Finish. Used a Fantastic Foam ball as a reward. Dropped the ball from under my arm for a good Heel, Finish or Stand at my side, dropped it from the middle of my chest for a good Front, tossed it to her for positions at a distance.

Stand at a distance & Stand by my side were things we haven’t done before. She got the Stand at a distance in 2 trials, and the Stand by my side with use of a nose touch in about 4 trials. By then, she’d stand, touch my hand and then look at me; ‘I KNOW it is the Stand you want, NOT the nose touch!’ From there I began sticking my hand out as a reminder, and she wouldn’t even bother with touching anymore; ‘ah, look, I get it!’ So next time we’ll see if she can do it without a hint!

We worked on the street in front of our house, and her favorite neighborhood cat was also sitting outside in full view. Cars came by, but those never bother her at all. So, the distraction was definitely the cat, and I think she did great! I heeled her past the cat once, got great eye contact throughout, dropped the ball for her and she came right with me instead of saying hi to the cat. Another time before that, I had put the ball on the sidewalk, parallel to the cat on the other side of the street. We heeled away from the ball, turned back toward the ball, Finish, and I sent her off to go get the ball. She looked at the cat as she took off, but then went straight to her ball and brought it back to me. Yay!

We had fun!

The picture shows Luna last April, with a Zogoflex Huck ball, at her ideal weight of ± 61 pounds. Tomorrow I’ll know how close she is to reaching that weight!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just a thought.

Hmmm, I thought this morning that it was actually a good thing, Luna being used as a boxing ball by the black dog last Sunday. I have seen NOTHING indicating that her knee was affected by the event, and that means her knee has healed really well! Yay!

Also, Luna's weight is 69 pounds today. Cool! She's beginning to look like the sleek racing machine she was up to last spring.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Training Log for Nov 16

Another one of Luna at 4 months. All legs and ears!
Zen: 40 treats, in the kitchen on tile floor. C/T for staying away from open hand with treat for up to 10s, ignoring treats tossed toward her in a stand and down. For the latter I wait until she looks at me before I click and pick up the treat to give to her. Once, while she was laying down, I tossed a treat right under her nose, she went to take it, I cued 'Leave It' and she did! Mind you, by the time I could give her the cue she was already touching the treat. Wow! I practiced not giving the cue until AFTER the treat started to drop, which, in practice, meant that the treat was usually on the floor before I said anything. Good girl! 100% Success!

Down: 40 treats, in the living room on hardwood floor. I asked her to Down while I was standing, sitting, lying down, sticking my arms and legs in all kinds of directions, standing with my face against a wall, etc. On 5 trials she had no clue what I wanted, too strange a position. That still gives her a Success Rate of 87,5%! She's doing SO good!

Tuck Sit: 40 treats, on the long rug in the hallway to prevent her from slipping. I remembered to not have treats in my lure hand! She is doing quite good, although I am not sure if she really understands what I want from her. She performs the Tuck Sit about 90-95 percent of trials with the lure of my empty hand, but still... I would really like a way to explain this to her without needing that hand... See if I can come up with other explanations for her.

Around 2.30 PM we went cycling to the park, all in all it was about 11-12 miles. Luna was having a blast! Just before we went, a package was delivered with 3 Fantastic Foam balls in it, which I'd ordered a couple of days ago. We took one of those balls and a ball launcher, and both Luna and I thought they were great! VERY light, which was something I have to get used to, as before I used Hucks, and those are very HEAVY. Luna also loves their lightness, they bounce and escape when you pounce on them, what fun! Luna also had a swim going after the ball, and she had a great time playing with a White Swiss Shepherd friend of hers, a GIANT male. Together, they tore the male's frisbee apart, and Luna was making super cute shepherd-talk noises all the time; 'I'm a little lady, and I want to play, but you're so BIG! And I want your frisbee, but it's a little scary stealing it from you!' And barking, now and then, 'GIMME DA DAMN FRISBEE!' *Grin* We got home around 4.30 PM. Whew, a day just like 'the old days' before the knee injury, boy have we both missed those!

Total training time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Training Log for Nov 15

Luna at 4 months old. Those are some big ears!
This morning we worked on Zen, Down and getting a tuck Sit.

She was beautiful on the Zen exercises. I'd put my open hand with a treat on it in her face, told her to 'Leave It' and could easily count to 10 before clicking and dropping the treat to the floor. And WOW, she had solid eye contact the entire time! Great! When we're working on Watch she can't look at me without whining or moving or thinking she needs to do something else, and then I say 'Leave It' and she can do 10 seconds of solid eye contact. That's mean. And cool. I also tossed one treat at the time at her while cueing 'Leave It', and she nailed those, too! So, that's a 100% success rate!

Then, we had a little break playing tug, and moved on to the Down. She nailed it 100% of the first 10 treats, so I started moving myself around, sticking my arms and legs out and even lying down on the ground. Again, she nailed all of them but 2, where she really thought she should target my hand. Interesting. Even so, I'm really proud of her! 40 treats - 2 = 38 treats = 95% success! Whoo hoo!

In there, I dropped a treat by accident, Luna went after it, I cued 'Leave It' and she did!

Another game of tug, and then I decided to tackle the tuck Sit, where I want her to keep her front legs in place and scoot her back legs under herself. Found some tips in Kay Laurence's 'Learning Games' book, she said to hold one hand against the back of the dog's head so she couldn't slide backwards. I tried that a few times, which worked, but then I also learned that if I moved the treat to her nose and a little forward, she would also tuck her back legs under. Nice! So we have a tuck sit! No cue, and I am still luring her nose forward to prevent a back sit, but this is a promising start. Next session I will not put the treat in my lure hand, forgot to get rid of that this session. But again, I am proud of my little lady! Yay!

If anyone has more tips on how to explain the tuck sit to my girl, I'd love to hear them!

Later today we will be doing the Come Game, Name Game and Target. Don't know if I'll be able to post that stuff today as my brother usually steals the internet in the afternoon, but if I can post about that today, I will update this entry.

UPDATE: Training done last night included the Name Game, Target & Come Game. We also did some impromptu loose-leash work on the street in front of our house before dinner. That was fun!

Loose Leash: 40 treats on the street in front of our house. I started this because she is always searching for her 'best friend' the Maine Coon, a very bold cat that will come and greet her from time to time. I didn't see him myself, but I thought it was a nice opportunity to do some LL work. I would stand facing her, then turn and walk straight backwards past Luna, clicking when she released tension on the leash and actively followed. By the end of the 40 treats she more often than not kept the leash from moving at all. She'd come with me as soon as I got past her shoulder. Whoo hoo!

Name Game: 40 treats, paid for making eye-contact upon hearing her name. She was standing the whole time, so I will make sure that for the next session, she's in a different position. She locked on every time I said her name.

Target: 40 treats, paid for touching my target hand wherever it was. Jump up to touch it, reach down low to touch it, left, right, chase it to touch etc. She missed 4, every time I put my target hand down below my knees. Interesting... will explain that to her in smaller increments next session. Success rate: 90%!

Come Game: we played this on our last walk of the day, on the street in front of our house. She's not yet turning away from me automatically to get the next treat. I click when she turns toward me after collecting the treat I tossed away, then drop another treat between my feet. No cues yet, 40 treats makes for 20 complete away-and-back-to-me's.

Total training time so far, starting today; 1 hour.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Training Plan for Nov 15 to Nov 21

Luna, 8 months old on a gloomy autumn morning.
NAME GAME - 1 session a day, 40 treats. Intent is to get Luna to make eye contact when I say 'Wijffie'.

COME GAME - 1 session a day, 40 treats. Intent is to get Luna to come when called with the word 'puppy!'

SIT - 1 session a day, 40 treats. Intent is for Luna to perform a tuck sit, no cue yet.

DOWN - 1 session a day, 40 treats. Intent is for Luna to down with one hip over on the cue 'Down'.

TARGET - 1 session a day, 40 treats. Intent is for Luna to touch my target-hand (hand in fist, index and middle finger extended) with her nose on the cue 'Touch'.

ZEN - 1 session a day, 40 treats. Intent is for Luna to ignore my offered hand with a treat in it for 5 seconds on the cue 'Zen'.

In other news, I've been sloppy keeping this blog up to date!

On the exercise/health front Luna is doing great. We go cycling 5 miles every other day (yesterday we did 6 miles), and on the off-day we do ball retrieves 20-30 times. This means Luna stays until the ball I've tossed stops rolling, then she looks at me and I release her to go get the ball. She loves this game!

Yesterday at the park on our cycling trip, we met a very rude, typical 'I just wanna say hi!' dog. Black, about Luna's size, and he played like a battering ram. Luna's back legs slipped out from under her six times while they were 'playing' (ie. Luna was trying to escape while the dog kept bodyslamming her with an 'I'm having so much fun!' face) and the owners just said 'oh look, they're good playmates!' Uhm, no, they're not. This is the part where I really have to just get mad and not care about other people's feelings I guess, but I didn't want to make them feel bad so I said nothing. I hate when I do that. Luna actually fell once, and the dog knocked her full-speed into my bike twice. Gaaah!

Luna is way too soft when these things happen. It took the second slam into my bike before she made a half-hearted attempt to tell the black dog to knock it off. 

Finally, my brain kicked in somewhat and I grabbed the other dog by his harness when he came within reach. The owners leashed him and Luna and I continued on our trip. 

Thankfully, Luna's legs are still in good working order, she just has a little chafe on one of her hind legs.

I hope I won't let this go on next time it happens. It's simple, really... 'Could you please leash your dog, mine really doesn't think this is fun!'


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Training Plan for Nov 4 to Nov 7

Modified from a sample by Robin Sallie on her blog 'Raising K9'. Robin, if you mind me using your setup, please let me know!

Not nearly as good-looking as BZ Training's Weekly Training Plan, but much easier for me to follow, define what needs work, and also, how to keep track! Yay!

Find-the-Hand Game - 40 times per day in 2 sessions (20 treats each). Objective is for Luna to find my hand wherever it is and place the dumbbell in my hand.

Name Game - 40 times per day in 2 sessions (20 treats each). Objective is to get Luna to look at me, NOT walk toward me, upon hearing her 'name'. As the name Luna is something I reflexively use for all kinds of things not necessarily good, I'll use the word 'Wijffie' instead. So, hearing 'Wijffie!' means to Look at Mom.

Come Game - 60 times per day in 3 sessions (30 treats each). Objective is for Luna to run toward a treat I toss away from me, then turn and run back to me without any prompting on my part. When she is on her way to me, I will drop another treat between my feet for her to eat. She'll be clicked for arriving at my feet.

Leash - 40 times per day in 2 sessions (20 treats each). Objective is for Luna to move into leash pressure on her neck, thus creating a Loose Leash. Also, put a signal of some kind on your leash, 30cm from the handle. This part of the leash must NEVER be touched by the dog - ie. remain loose at all times. When I cannot be consistent about a loose leash, I will walk her on a harness!

Handling/Grooming - 3 sessions per week (15 treats per session). Objective is for Luna to be comfortable and welcoming of a toothbrush moving in her mouth.

Grab Game - 3 sessions per week (15 treats per session). Objective is for Luna to be comfortable with being grabbed all over her body.

For record-keeping I will use the following style (note that this is an example):

'Name of Behaviour'   dd mmm yy
Session 1 (1)_________________
1.                          11.
2.                          12.
3.                          13.
4.                          14.
5.                          15.
6.                          16.
7.                          17.
8.                          18.
9.                          19.
10.                        20.

Between quotes ‘’ is the name of what we are working on.

dd mmm yy is the date, eg. 4 Nov ’10.

I will mark each successful (meets the criteria outlined in the Training Plan) trial with a / and each unsuccessful trial with an X.

The number between brackets (1) is where the total number of training sessions for this behaviour is recorded. So, for example, this could be Session 1 of the day and Session (5) in total.

At the start of each day I will write out these record sheets for all sessions of daily behaviours, and add all sessions of weekly behaviours when necessary. Goal is to become reliable MYSELF in passing all these sessions day after day, week after week.

Each Monday, I will write out a new Training Plan for the following week. In it, I will define my criteria of success for that week. This means that for that week, I will be measuring success by how often Luna is able to match the criteria I’ve set for that week. If she doesn’t reach above 70% successful within that week, I will lower the criteria for the next week. I will not set higher criteria until Luna is at least 90% successful on all sessions for a behaviour on the 7th day.

As I have started this first Training Plan on Thursday, we will be doing the 3x week sessions on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

A little work on the retrieve.

January 2010, our first Gun Dog training week. Luna is about to put that dummy into my hands. Yes, it was COLD!

Yesterday Luna and I worked on delivering a dumbbell to hand and finding the hand in lots of different places.

We will be going to a Gun Dog training week in January and I want to make sure that this time, we come prepared!
Last year we took the course with nothing but knowing how to deliver a dumbbell/dummy/other object to my hand, and although Luna did fantastically well (out of the 20 retrieves that week, she missed about 5 of them and got the other ones all by herself or with a little help from me), I want to make sure that SHE is more secure in knowing that when I send her, there WILL be a dummy for her to find. Not so much so that she'll do even better at the course, but simply to expand her knowledge of the game. I'm using the book Positive Gun Dogs as my guideline, and when January comes around I will likely just use my old, not-specifically-trained cues to tell her what to do if I am not sure that she'll be able to use her properly-trained knowledge by then. Object of the course is a week of fun quality time, not perfect performance.

Anyway, about last night; I started with just clicking for holding the dumbbell on her own, then moved on to putting it on the floor and clicking for returning the dumbbell to my hand. Once she was good at that, I began moving my hand around; up, down, tossing the dumbbell to my left and hiding my hand behind my right leg, and vice versa. She did very well, I'd say about 80% success in finding my hand an placing the dumbbell. Fun times!

I have to make sure I set up a video camera next time, so that I'll be able to make notes of what exactly happened and keep a training progress log.

Also, her knee is still going strong, and yesterday was our first off-leash cycling trip since the injury. We went for 3 miles, and I could tell she enjoyed being off-leash after such a long time! She received lots of treats for staying next to my right leg and for running back into position after stopping to sniff or pee.

Forgot to weigh her yesterday, but today her weight is... um... *goes to get scale, weighs herself and then herself WITH the dog* Um, OK, 70.5 pounds. This keeps happening! The scale goes down a little bit, then when I'm thinking 'yay, she's loosing weight!' the scale goes UP again!

Not that this means I'll feed her less or exercise her more. She LOOKS better, maybe I should just use my eyes and my hands to see how she's doing. Saves me a bunch of useless bewilderment. Oh, well...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reactivity success and failure on the same day.

Luna, 12 months old, showing her 'eek! a dog!' pose. This was before I woke up and realized I should help her cope with these things. These days, she rarely looks like this.
Investigating the scary dog with 10-year-old 'brother' Cedric. She looks like she's about to bolt if that dog makes a sudden move.
Yesterday started out well; on our morning walk, which included taking 15-year-old Westie Cedric with us, we met a lady with a blonde and a black Lab. Both are females, and Luna has met them before. Still, I know she is weary of the black one, so I took a moment to think about what best to do before lady and dogs reached us.

If we hadn't had Cedric with us, I might have just let Luna Sit and play 'Look At That', but I knew that wouldn't feel safe enough for her in this situation. So, I crouched down with her, put my arm around her and we watched together as the lady and her dogs approached. I talked nicely to Luna, and she appeared quite soft; ears down, a slightly smiley face, and she was wagging her tail in a happy fashion. The dogs reached us and I made sure to keep on touching and talking to Luna as both dogs came to say 'hi'. She continued to be soft and wiggly, frequently turning back to me to say 'thanks for helping me'. At some point she got a little bit far away from me to investigate the black Lab and she had a moment of snarky face ('I think you're scary and I might bark in your face'), but she made no sound and came back to me quickly when I called her name. Yay, Luna!

The lady said I should also cuddle 'the little one' (Cedric), and I said; 'yeah, but he doesn't think this is scary' (not to mention that he hardly noticed the dogs due to blindness and deafness). The lady asked me what made Luna think this was scary, and I said, 'the black dog'. Then, the lady said 'ah, a preference'. I didn't respond to that, as this was the moment where Luna had a snarky face, and after solving that I got up and we said goodbye.

So, why DOES Luna think black dogs are scary? I think she has good reason to; almost all dogs that have been rude or unfriendly to her were black, and a Giant Schnauzer chased after her once and collided with her back end, which ended in a bruised backside for my girl. She'd alternately limp on one of her hind legs, and she kept her tail very stiffly when I tried to manipulate it. Thankfully she recovered from this very well (never got to speak to the owner about this, sadly) and it hasn't bothered her since. Like I said though, black dogs to her mean 'rude, nasty and pain'.

Then, yesterday on our walk before dinner, again with Cedric, we met two off-leash, boisterous, rude black Labs and two (one of which off-leash) Parson Russel sized mixes. We've met all four of these dogs before, and Luna doesn't feel comfortable with any of them. We couldn't evade them (well, I realize now we could have gone back the way we came, although with a slow 15-year-old in tow they probably would've caught up with us) and for some reason I did not feel like having Luna Sit and do 'Look At That'. So, I just kind of marched through these dogs as quickly as we could, which resulted in Luna lunging at one of the Labs, barking at one of the mixes and coming out the other end with her hackles raised as high as they could go and her tail up. Oops. I'm sorry, little girl...

Ghaaa! I hate when I do things like that. I KNOW she can't cope with that and yet I put her through it anyway.

Also, I'm thinking of buying a front-clip harness for these walks with Cedric. That way I won't be pulling on her neck when I decide to be a bad mommy and let her 'fix' things on her own.

Again, sorry pup...