Thursday, February 24, 2011

Steps to Success L2 Come.

Whoaaa.... I have not done much of anything so far, this week! Forgot all about Wordless Wednesday, forgot about the Daily Shoot, forgot testing Luna on the stuff I wanted to test her on.

We went cycling about an hour ago, and when we got back I was warm and comfortable so I decided to test Steps to Success L2 Come. I tested her on the street in front of our house, and right when I was walking away for the 'Dog Comes 40' to trainer working alone', the mail truck stopped by and signaled for me to come over. He had a package for my dad. So, while I was taking the package and signing the receipt, Luna performed a 30' SitStay in complete comfort. I was partially out of sight, hidden behind the mail truck. I think she sat there for 1 minute. I walked over to her with the package and dropped a handful of treats at her feet. Good girl!

Then, on to testing. Walking away 40', Luna was holding a SitStay in front of our house. Whistle recall. She took of with a little jump and got to me with a big fat grin on her face. Lots of cookies for you!

Next, 'Dog Comes 40' to have her leash put on.' I left Luna in a SitStay 40' away from our house, so she was basically sitting in a 'strange' place (she has never done a Stay by herself in that place). When I was back to our house, 40' away, I turned to see Luna sitting there all comfortably, looking around, waiting for the next cue. Again, I blow my whistle and she races toward me. When she's almost home I hold out her limited slip leash and ask her to put it on; she sticks her head right through the loop, Click and again lots of cookies! Yay, good dog!

This was fun!

Luna's updated Progress Chart - L2 Come Passed!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Daily Shoot #5.

Today's Daily Shoot assignment:
"Who are you? Make a self-portrait today and show the rest of us what you look like."
Oooh, fun! I have lots of pictures of myself with Luna, but of course today I wanted to make a new one. We ended up going to the beach with the dogs, so I asked my parents to take a shot of me with Luna. Not entirely a self-portrait, but I really wanted an outdoor shot. So, here it is!

This is my usual 'out-with-the-dog' winter outfit; my super comfy wind- and waterproof Fjallraven jacket with a grand total of 8 roomy pockets, a pair of jeans and fleece-lined wellingtons. Blue leash, Acme 211,5 whistle on a blue cord (you can just see it in the picture) and of COURSE, my dog!

I have lots more pictures of Luna having fun at the beach, I will post those later.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Worksheet for Week 8.

Here's what I plan to work on this week:

And since I've got the training bug, I tested Steps to Success L2 Target right after dinner. She passed with flying colors! That's double reinforcement for me; I get to sign off another Steps to Success exercise, AND one less behavior I have to teach. Actually that's not a great thing really, it's just reinforcement to the procrastinator that is me. ;-) Hmmm... (shhhh, don't tell anyone!)

Steps to Success Level 2 Target
L2S1Dog Touches wooden object in trainer's hand.Pass
L2S2Dog Touches plastic object in trainer's hand.Pass
L2S3Dog Touches metal object in trainer's hand.Pass
L2S4Dog Touches sticky note on the wall.Pass
L2S5Dog closes a cabinet door. Oh, she LOVES that!Pass

Here's to another week of fun training!
Luna's updated Progress Chart

Daily Shoot #4.

Today's assignment:
"Work with scale today and make a photograph that features a subject either larger or smaller than expected."
I'm not sure my interpretation is right, at dinner dad made a suggestion that would have been better but also much harder to get. I'll try to get a shot of that sometime and put it up on the blog.

Here's my idea for today:

I took some shots of the usual sleeping arrangements of our dogs; the little one in the big bed, the big one in the small bed.

The big bed was bought for Luna, the shepherd, the small bed was bought for Cedric, the little bundle of fur in the big bed.

Cedric however, decided that HE wanted the big bed, so if he sees Luna leave, he'll immediately get out of the small bed and hog the big bed. And Luna is too nice to try sharing it with him. ;-) And if Cedric wants the big bed NOW, he'll just climb up the back and Luna politely gets up and leaves. Ahhh....

And one last shot, just because I like it:

Luna prefers to have most of her body hanging out of the bed, whether she's in the big bed or the small bed. Silly girl.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Steps to Success L2 & L3 Sit.

Purely for your enjoyment; a picture of Luna at 3 years old.
Haha, we're on a roll this week!

Tonight I tested Luna on L2 & L3 Sit. My plan is to test her, and if she fails at something, it goes into the Teaching category and we work on it until she CAN pass.

First, L2 Sit.

L2S1Dog Sits while trainer walks 5' away and returns.Pass
L2S2Dog Sits while trainer walks 5' away, stays away for 30 seconds and returns.Pass
L2S3Dog Sits while trainer walks 10' away, stays away for 1 minute and returns.Pass!
L2S4Dog Sits while trainer walks around her.Pass
L2S5Applying Sits to life. Well, we've been doing that for nearly six years!Pass!

Then, on to L3 Sit.

L3S1Dog Sits up from Down. Easy peasy.Pass
L3S2Dog Sits up from Down 2' from trainer.Pass
L3S3Dog Sits up from Down 5' from trainer.Pass!
L3S4Dog Downs from Sit 5' from trainer. Again, easy peasy.Pass
L3S5Applying Sits to life. Again, been doing that for nearly six years!Pass!

This was actually a surprising outcome for me. Not so much L3 as we had been working on Sit from Down a couple of weeks last summer, and I know she really gets that. I was surprised that Luna could do a 1-minute Sit without whining and without lying down WHILE I held a clicker. A couple of years ago - see how good I am at procrastinating - I tried teaching Luna about Stays with the clicker. She could do them without, but adding the clicker made her want to MOVE! So I quit that endeavor. And now, after a year of consistently using clickertraining, I have a dog who is becoming quite innovative at inventing behaviors, AND she has learned to trust that she can hold the position I've cued until she hears the click, and the world won't end. A - W - E - S - O - M - E!

I will be testing these behaviors more regularly, and in different locations. Just to keep the skill and generalize the Stay to places with more distractions. Tonight we worked in a wide alley, we come through there several times a day on our walks. There's a playground on one side, a perpendicular path on the other side, and we worked in the dark. It was quite windy, so distractions where leaves across the ground, cars passing on one end of the alley, and the ever-present possibility of a dog showing up. Better yet, CATS! I will say I was glad that neither of those disturbed us tonight. ;-)

Anyway, I am PROUD!

Tomorrow we'll work on L2 Down - and possibly - L3 Down. She might just surprise me again!

Luna's updated Progress Chart again!

Daily Shoot #3.

Today's assignment:
"Make a photograph of something that captures a small bit the flavor of where you live or your culture."
Okay... I knew what I wanted, but the weather here is less than ideal for the shot I had in mind... It's cold, gray, colorless and muddy.

Either way, here's the 2 shots I thought were acceptable:

I've upped the saturation quite a bit to add some color. This is the view upon exiting our street, across the water is basically where our off-leash romping area starts. In the summer we have to share it with rather obnoxious cows, I'm always hoping they won't show up until late in the season. Especially since they've added a BULL to the herd two years ago! Yikes!

Steps to Success L2 & L3 Distance.

Since making my Steps to Success progress chart I got sidetracked and have been working exclusively on L2 and, unknowingly, L3 Distance. I've learned some interesting things.

1) I get stuck in the Teaching phase for too long. I keep thinking Luna doesn't get it, but when I do 80% right tests Luna usually hits between 75 and 95%. Also, when I take her out of the Teaching setup and start using the new behaviour in life, she's great at it. She makes a mistake maybe once, and then she gets it!

2) The sooner I start mixing the new behaviour with known behaviours (start as soon as the cue is attached), the faster, better and more reliable Luna responds. I did this for the first time when I taught her to Stand. I C/T'd for standing, once she got that I started telling her what it's called, and then I started adding in Sits and Downs and asking her to Stand. She was over 80% right, and she learned and generalized the behaviour in ONE 30-minute session. Stand is, besides putting her head through her collar, the most reliable behaviour she has. If she makes a mistake, I can reset her by asking for a Stand, then re-cueing the missed behaviour. It is also the only behaviour that's reliably under Stimulus Control.

3) Luna learns better when I start mixing stuff up and use the behaviour in daily life as soon as she knows the cue!

Now, if I can remember this next time I teach her something new...

It's funny really. Tuesday I thought she had NO clue what I wanted. Wednesday I thought she had NO clue what I wanted. Thursday I got fed up with trying to explain, so I started asking for the behaviour before she'd get a piece of my banana, or a piece of egg at breakfast, or a piece of my cheese for lunch. Just little things like that. She got better. Then yesterday I decided just to see what she would do if I asked her to go around lamp posts outside. After two 'what do you mean exactly?' replies, she nailed them. Then on our last walk for the night, I asked her to go around a stone pillar. Easy. I asked her to go around a framed tree. Easy. I asked her to go around a 15 foot wide fence. Easy. I decided to take a chance and ask her to go around a car. Again, easy!

So, what have I learned? I'm the one getting stuck, Luna is just waiting for me to USE the behaviour. She says, 'OK, I know what it's called, now what do you want me to DO with it?!' And if I fail to answer that question, she just starts mixing in other behaviours because she is bored, wants to speed things up or whatever. In any case, HER learning is not the problem.

I'll video her Distance behaviour sometime between now and next week. ;-)

Here's our updated Steps to Success Progress Chart:

Luna Passed L2 Distance Steps 1-4 & L3 Distance Steps 1-5.
I will be adding our Daily Shoot assignment today, but it will have to wait until our next walk, as it requires an outdoor shot.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday.

This always makes me laugh. When I vacuum downstairs, Luna goes up to my room. But if she hears an outside door, and I've left the door to my room open, she will often come running down to see who dares to come in, or worse, leave without telling her! And then this is the picture I see; sitting behind the door to upstairs, hoping someone will open it so she can check things out. This time I told her to go right back upstairs, I wasn't done vacuuming yet! ;-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Steps to Success Progress Chart.

Something I really missed with the new Steps to Success is the current lack of a way to track things. I'm sure that'll come when the book comes out, but what to do in the meantime? So I decided to see if I could make something that would give me a nice overview of where we are in training.

This is what I came up with:

Luna's Steps to Success Progress Chart.
Ain't that nice?! I really like it. Feel free to copy this one for your own use. Click on the pic for a larger version. The grayed out areas are non-applicable behaviors to that level, I haven't yet added this to all levels.

Also, we did more training! Yay me! As you can see in the chart, we worked on - hmmm, something to add, a time stamp! - Handling and Distance for L2. For Handling I was pretty confident she could pass Steps 1 to 4 without trouble, and as you can see, I was right! We've been working, outside of the Steps, on Handling Step 5 but I haven't really taken the time to sit down and explain it to her properly, so it is marked as Teaching Stage.

After Handling, I chose one of the things she can sorta do but I haven't taken her through the entire process yet. We worked on Distance Step 1. She was going around the pole (a stool) counterclockwise from six feet away, but I might have lumped so next time I will put the stool right in front of me. I have also begun adding a cue; 'Go 'Round!' and mixing that in with Sits, Downs and Stands. I think she did pretty good, but I really do not want to rush things, so we'll see what she remembers next time. Take the time it takes!

Why I think I've lumped; Luna was very vocal, threw a lot of other behaviors at me (we hadn't heard of Stimulus Control until a year ago and I have yet - again - to take the time to explain it!) and she generally just seemed a bit too frustrated to be fair. When I started adding in Sits and Downs with the cue for going around the stool, she calmed down to the point of no longer vocalizing. Obviously the Rate of Reinforcement had gone up here. I really need to think about that next time!

And before I mark them off, I want to do the Homework assignments officially. I will post those here.

Weekly Worksheet for Week 7.

These are the things I plan to do this week... but I'm a star at procrastination so... fingers crossed. I've made this in hopes of actually doing something other than taking Luna for runs with the bike.

Layout somewhat stolen from Katleen over at BZ Training. Thanks for the idea, Kat!

And thanks to this sheet I've actually tested Luna on Steps 1-4 of the Steps to Success L2 and she passed with flying colors! Way to go, puppy! Hopefully I will test or teach or train something else before this day is over...

Haha! Daily Shoot Coincidence.

Today's Daily Shoot assignment reads:
"Make a photograph of something old. Be sure to show us the character that age can give a subject."
Before reading this assignment I'd taken some shots of our West Highland White terrier mix, Cedric. He'll be 16 in March. That qualifies as old! Yay!

Here's why I love the shot: I had just fluffed up his pillow after Luna (yes, the shepherd fits in this bed, too!) had dumped all her sand from the morning run in it, and Cedric LOVES a freshly made bed. You can see he could hardly get in (1 - 2 - jump!), and the fluffiness of the pillow forces him into the corner, and he just lays down and sleeps. I was vacuuming around him, bumping into the bed, and he never moved. So, character of age; completely unflappable by whatever goes on around him, because he KNOWS, if we need him, we'll let him know.

And a little closer:

He stinks like a skunk, he has no teeth, he's virtually deaf and blind, but boy is he cute!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Daily Shoot #1.

The assignment for today:
"Sometimes what’s out of focus can make the shot. Create a photograph today where some/all of your subject isn't in focus."
Okay, that's not too hard... except that... when is the focus on depth and when is it 'just' not in focus? Ah well...

Luna was trying to sleep on her fluffy newish bed, she made it clear to me that she preferred not to have that lens in her face. I didn't give up, and so she decided to pretend being asleep. And that made her shift into a position that I thought was perfect for this Daily Shoot assignment!

I like this last one best. You can see how Luna had given up at this point and pretended to be asleep. ;-)
Awwww.... that's not very nice of me... well, then I guess I'll go make it up to her now!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More retrieving fun.

Last Thursday Luna and I spent another great afternoon at the park. This time I'd taken my DSLR camera with me instead of the small compact I had last time. It was still quite hard to get good pictures though, as it was windy and Luna was way too fast for me most of the time!

First things first; water!
Fun shot
Stop takin' pictures already!
Look, the dummy is over there ma, let me go!
Well... alright then. ;-)
And there she comes! Ears up, yes Luna, I'm still here.
Speedy Gonzales comin' in!

Nearly there...
Yay! Homerun!
Round two. The dummy is up there, to the right of the stairs. Changed camera settings at this point, hence the different lighting.
And off she goes!
Up the hill... like I said at the top of this post, she was often too fast for me to get the focus right!
Got it!
She decides to takes the easy route back. This is fine with me, so long as, when I send her, she takes the route I've indicated to her. I LOVE this shot!
Whoohoo! Look at her go! ;-)
Lookin' at me, deciding to come down the hill here.
The flying dog!
Hi ma! I'm back! I love her happy face here.
Off to go get dummy nr. 3 around the corner.
And back already! Good pup!
Not a great shot, but I'm putting it up anyway. Dummy nr. 3 is home!
A muddy, happy dog. Such a cute face!
Dummy nr. 4 is in there somewhere.
Yay, got it!
Hey ma, there you are!
Okay... did I mention she's a bit camera shy?! Or she's just blissed out because there's something in her mouth. That's option nr. 2.
A wink, of sorts.
And off to get another one. Not a very sharp shot, but I love seeing this speed too much to leave it out.
Dummy nr. 5, check!
More happiness!
Yuck, incoming dog! Quick, to mom! (Very nice person, she saw us working and immediately leashed her dog. Thumbs up!)
Here I come!
Yay, I made it!
Time for a water break.
My cute little girl

Are you done now, ma?!
Retrieving amidst young trees.
I'm coming!
I've added this shot because it shows her technique nicely; we can see the dummy, she can't. She's going back and forth catching wind, which carries the dummies' scent, which will lead her nose to the dummy. Viola!
Got it!
Dummy in the middle of the shot. This one was much deeper than the other two, so she left it till last. For this one, she has to search deeper, and that is something she only does when she can't find any dummies closer to the edge. She was a little hesitant when I sent her to get this one, because she hadn't caught this one's scent before, so she wasn't sure there would be a third dummy. However, I said there was, so she trusts me and, when searching closer to me nets her nothing, she goes deeper and boom! There it is!
Coming back with the third (nr. 8 total) dummy. She's looking right because there was some noise, a woman loudly calling her dog who was harassing a horse.
Coming back with dummy nr. 9 which was in the bush behind her. You can see a grey line, that's a dirt road. I've deliberately put that between us and the dummies, as it teaches her not to be stopped by boundaries. For dogs, a change in surface can be as much a boundary as a fence is. In this case, there's two boundaries; first the road, and then the line of trees which she has to enter in order to find the dummies.
Just for fun. ;-)
She loves to get up on stuff. This is a picnic table.
Well, as you can see we had a great time once again, I hope you enjoy the pics!