Monday, March 28, 2011

Susan Garrett's Recallers Course 2.0

Random cuteness; Luna at 3 months, her first time in the park. "You're my mommy, I'll stick right with you!"
Plan to do our first 5-minute session tonight, we'll work on 3 of the games that Susan considers Critical Core games.

Problem; I don't have a crate anymore. Would love to have one, but nowhere to put it at the moment. So, I'm thinking of doing Susan's Crate Games with a specific mat. My criteria would be that Luna's front paws must be within the confines of the mat at all times, and instead of touching the crate door as a cue to Sit, I'd touch the mat with my right foot and that would be the cue to Sit. That's my plan for now. Hope to work it tomorrow, and I'll report on how it went!

I've also just made a list of reinforcers for Luna, rated in order of value and separated into three categories; food, toys and activities. Interesting! If I'm even half right with my assessment of value, and I'll admit I'm not 100% sure, Luna has LOTS of high value rewards. Cool! I'm sure that's the product of nearly 6 years of working together, but still. A nice surprise!

Off to go train!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Paws Up!

Sorry. I was looking for a paws-up shot, couldn't find it, then saw this one. Hahaha!
Yihaa! We have a new trick!

This week I've been asking Luna to put her paws up on horizontal things while on our walks. My asking consisted of standing by an object and waiting to see what she'd do, or pointing at it. Yesterday I decided to add a cue; 'Paws Up!' And voila, a new trick is born! She can now Paws Up, on cue, on virtually any raised horizontal surface we can find. I've also started asking her for two different things with some objects; 'Hup!' for jumping it, and 'Paws Up!' for putting her front paws on the same object she just jumped. She's still figuring that one out, but if I ask her to wait, and then ask for Paws Up, she gets it! Such a smart pup! ;-)

Paws Up is in Sue Ailsby's new Steps to Success, so next up is reviewing her criteria for each Level and then testing! Whoohoo!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Luna's favourite treat; cheese.

NOT a good idea to take cheese with me on the last walk before bed; MY goal is that Luna pees several times and hopefully poops as well, in a 15 minute walk. LUNA'S goal; GET THE CHEESE! So, she peed once, and spent the rest of the walk trying to entice me into asking her to do something which would lead to cheese. I'd tell her 'go pee!' she'd take 10 steps and go; 'hi ma, would you like me to do something for you?!' YES, I would like you to PEE. 'But ma, you have cheese, are you SURE you don't want me to do a trick or something?!' *Sigh*

The consequence; I went to bed feeling guilty, hoping she wouldn't REALLY have to go in the morning, and Luna just said; 'cheese!'

This morning I take her out, she sniffs and trots around and asks me questions for 10 minutes before she decides to pee. Not a huge stream, no, just a tiny 'I was here' drizzle. Thank heavens! It probably helps that she's nearly 6 years old now, but when she was a puppy, she didn't warn me at all when she had to pee, so I found a wet spot in her crate nearly every morning. Oops, sorry pup. I think I still feel uncomfortable about that now, which is why I HATE it when she only pees once before bed. ;-)

So, new rule; NO cheese on the last walk!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Informal training sessions.

Whoops, long time no posts!

I really should get back in the habit, so here's what we've been up to the last few weeks!

Random picture; Luna at 12 months, first -and last- time in season, playing with a ball on 'her' couch.
There's been no formal training all this time, but to counteract that I have been training A LOT on our daily walks. When taking our old boy the Westie out with us, Luna and I play the Got Leash? game (deliberately moving into pressure on the leash and thus creating a loose leash), we practice Hand Touches, Going Around objects, Sits, Downs, and Stand. Luna especially loves the Hand Touches. So much so that it has nearly become a new Come cue. Cool!

When we encounter other dogs on our walks, we play Look At That!; look at the dog for a click and treat. This, too, has been going fabulously. Just this morning we went right past 3 other dogs, one of which off leash, grumbling and coming after Luna, and she was completely relaxed the whole time. She'd look at the dog as we approached, I'd say 'Yes!' and out came a treat (another awesome thing, she'll work her butt off for 'boring' kibble). Look at the dog, Yes, treat. Look at the dog, Yes, treat. And so on until we had passed the dog and I could tell Luna was done with it. Then I'd praise her and tell her to go on, and she'd just keep going as if nothing had happened. Before, even after having passed a dog, she would often look back a few more times and be less calm.

During all 3 dog encounters, Luna was off leash, on the same side as the other dog (so I wasn't between her and the dog) and she didn't even have to sniff the other dog just to make sure 'it's just a dog'. She was totally committed to playing Look At That! and not interested in the other dog at all. Amazing, good girl!

Also, because she's doing so well and I keep remembering to play Look At That! when we see a dog, I have become much more calm about encountering other dogs. I didn't freak out or anything, but before, if we'd see a dog, I'd think 'damn, a dog'. Now it's 'hey, look, another opportunity to play Look At That!' So basically, now, Luna and I are both having fun while meeting other dogs, where before it was quite a stressful thing.

When we'd just set off on our walk this morning, Luna was about 50' ahead of me (off leash) when she spotted a 'scary' dog (also reactive, will bark and chase her when off leash) about 30' to her left. She started barking, I said 'Hey!' (that's a reflex I can't seem to get rid of just yet) but even before I said anything, she had already veered off to the right, intending on going to the field where we were heading. Wowzers. Yes, she did react - and she did so because she found herself 'all alone' with a suddenly appearing scary dog - but SHE chose to go away from the dog rather than towards the dog and scream in its face. Wow. What a GREAT choice, girly! Once safely off to the right, Luna stopped and waited for me to catch up with her. By the time I reached her, she was back to being her calm and relaxed self.

A few weeks ago, she did something else that I thought was SO great that I still remember it several times a day. We were on one end of a 150' path, and a 'cookie lady' she and I know well was on the other end. Luna saw her, looked at me (another thing she's learned to do, rather than rushing off the second she sees the lady), I didn't see a reason to keep Luna with me, so I gave her the go ahead. Luna took off at full speed, but halfway down the path she stopped and turned back to look at me again. Hmmm... So I tried to see what she was trying to tell me, but all I could see was that the 'cookie lady' had company in the form of another woman. I just couldn't see who it was, and I saw no dogs, so I told Luna to once again, go on. She did. Then, when she reached the cookie lady, a little black & tan pincher started screaming at her, and being all alone (without me), Luna resorted to her reactive behaviour; she did the same, screaming at the pincher and charging him. Ack, oops, sorry Luna, sorry little pinscher, sorry owner of the pinscher!

It was basically at the same time I recognized the other lady (we see each other several times a week, she owns the pincher and a Westie), that Luna got into a screaming match with the pincher. Again, Luna stopped immediately when I said/yelled 'Hey!' (I'm sure the fact that she listens makes it so hard for me to stop doing it), and I KNOW she has no intention of actually touching the other dog, but still. Little tiny pincher gets 'attacked' by a shepherd with bared teeth, hackles raised, tail up. Not a pretty sight. By this time I'd reached them, Luna was already over it and collecting cookies from the cookie lady. The owner of the pincher was laughing, saying 'serves him right' (um, no, not really, your pincher is screaming at Luna for the exact same reason Luna screamed back - fear) and told me that no, Luna hadn't touched him. Thank goodness. So why do I think this was great? Because Luna TOLD ME that there was another dog she wasn't comfortable with right where the cookie lady was, and she was ASKING me for help! And here I am, dumb trainer, telling her to go on and take care of it herself, KNOWING she can't take care of it without freaking out. Oops... Obviously, next time she tells me, I WILL listen and help her out!

I suppose the summary of this post comes down to me being very proud of what great progress Luna has made, despite sometimes having a trainer who isn't paying attention. Luna, you're awesome!