Train Your Dog Month: Training Challenge Update

Hard to believe we are already half way through January, but here were are, mid-way through “Train Your Dog Month” and working hard on the training challenge issued by Something Wagging This Way Comes, Alfie’s Blog and Rescued Insanity. So with only a couple of weeks to go, I figured I would provide an update on where I’m at with my goals for the month:

Kringle: Walk on a leash

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So this turned out to be a lot less of an effort than I thought it would be. Before I really got to sit down and click and treat for walking with a leash on and work on it formally, situations arose in which Kringle would have to walk on a leash. The first of these involved being with the other dogs, so we just clipped a leash to him, kept it loose and he followed us and the other dogs with no real fuss.

I tried it again, a few times, first with just one dog, then just me. And he seems to have gotten the point. One thing I am curious about is how he would walk on a leash with a stranger because it seems he likes to follow us because he likes us. He has been approaching strangers happily for petting though so I feel like there may be a good chance.

And I guess we will find out… Saturday morning, Kringle is meeting a potential adopter. I don’t want to say more for fear of jinxing it but meeting them will involve going to the Michigan Classic dog show, so he will be around lots of dogs and people on a leash. That will be a really big test for him and we will make a major effort to keep it as stress free as possible for him but I expect he will actually enjoy the business and hopefully will make a good impression on the potential adopters and their dog.

Jeni: Continue sporadically training..?

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I’m not sure if I ever arrived at a solid goal with Jeni, other than maybe being ready for a Rally trial, but that is not until the end of February so we won’t be able to really test that goal for another month. I wanted to keep working and training toward our goal of a Trick Dog Championship, and attaining her Advanced Trick Dog title was a good step toward that.

This most recent Monday we had our first “All Star Dogs Club” session. I got some great training advice, Bauer earned his CGCA while we were there and the facility is fantastic. Jeni on the other hand, had a pretty stressful evening. She was able to learn and work and was taking food the whole time but she was very close to going over threshold and I’m not quite sure why. She did not react to the other dogs there and seemed quite comfortable with them (an old trigger for her) but she seemed shut down by part of the building and also had an extremely hard time being crated while I was working with Bauer. The last time we were at an agility trial was more than a month ago and she was excellent in her crate but for some reason she really struggled.

So my goals for the next two weeks are going to be to make her more comfortable being crated away from me (again) and more comfortable in this facility. Granted – her behavior all night on Monday would have been considered a “success” for a new location several months ago (the first time she went to an agility class she barked the whole time, panicked at every noise and refused to take food at all..) but I worry I didn’t go through the proper process of making her feel “okay” with this new place because I took for granted that she has been doing better with novel situations.

Snoopy: Improve “stay” command

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Well, Snoopy is keeping warm while training (Thanks Ruffwear Climate Changer!) He is also doing well with “stay,” though I learned that we have to go about it a little differently. With Snoopy it seems to be less a lack of understanding of the command and more a lack of impulse control, which is pretty common with all dogs. Impulse control/leave it is something I work on pretty diligently with Bauer and Jeni – Bauer because he needs to have impeccable manners out in public and Jeni because she is a pain in the a** to deal with if I don’t constantly remind her to use her brain and have some self-control. Snoopy, on the other hand, is a sweet, gentle soul, and even when he is pushy it is in such a subtle and kind way that it never bothers anyone.

Of course, this leads Snoopy to thinking that anytime I have a treat he must be RIGHT BY ME and also attempting several tricks (wave and speak, mostly), to get me to give him the food. Because he loves food. Snoopy does “wait” for his meals, but even that I let slide once in a while. So in order to teach him that just because I have a treat doesn’t mean he has to follow me everywhere, we started working on leave it in tandem with feeding him lots of treats just for staying in one place while I moved a small step to the left, right or back. He seems to be enjoying this because it means food for doing nothing, and I am noticing significant improvements already.

Bauer: Learn and enjoy nosework

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We finally got to start nosework class with Bauer this Monday after being delayed due to an awful snowstorm, and we are both loving it! Some trainers start dogs looking for food before getting into scents but we started making the association between scent and great things happening right away and I think it will make things more clear to the dog as we move on, and it has been easy enough for Bauer to pick up. He thinks it’s a great game – poke my nose at a smelly box and I get food! We started marking and rewarding for showing interest in a tin filled with scented cutips, then added in an empty tin and only marked and rewarded for showing interest in the smelly one. We ended the class with him driving eagerly toward a box with a scented tin in it and burying his nose in the box enthusiastically.

After working on nosework with Bauer I took Jeni out to work with her and got to observe a team that has been working on scent detection for about a year search the room, and it was very cool to see. The facility is perfect for nosework searches and I am looking forward to growing my skill and Bauer’s in this fun sport.

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5 thoughts on “Train Your Dog Month: Training Challenge Update

  1. Wow, you’re so ambitious! I’m very impressed and glad to see you’re having good results already.

    Honey is very good walking on leash. But when I take her somewhere really stimulating, I’ll use her front fastening harness to give me just a little more control in case of emergency.

    I hope Kringle does well at the dog show when he meets his potential adopter.

    And it’s interesting that your nosework started with scents first. We started with treats and I always wondered if that was the best way to go. Do you work with all three scents in one session? Or stick to one scent until the dog understands more what you mean when you give him the cue?

    • I had only heard from people that had started with treats before so it was new to me but actually makes a lot of sense. I think the concept of starting with treats is to get them used to the concept of searching but I feel like that comes natural once they know what to look for. Bauer seems to be catching on quickly and I got this scent kit so I can work on stuff with Jeni and Snoopy at home. Granted – we have played some “find it” type games with treats before at home so I wonder if that helped. Our trainer actually used to train drug detection dogs and he said that initially they would start training the scent of each drug individually but someone came up with the idea of training all the scents at once (so in our case, there are multiple scented cutips in one tin) and it proved to be more effective. He said he finds it easier for the dog to understand to split up the scents once they understand the concept of searching for scent, instead of adding new ones and starting over each time.

  2. What cute pups you have! These are great goals! It sounds like you’re already making progress on a number of them. I’ve always wanted to try nosework with my shy girl; I’ve heard it can do great things for confidence.

  3. Pingback: Train Your Dog Month: What Did We Learn? | How I Adopted Your Brother

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