Monday, August 30, 2010

Can you do it in a box?

A picture from Gaius' monthly hike with the dog scouts

Well if you have been reading Susan Garrett's blog this week you'll see that she's been talking about distractions and the environment and how they relate to cue understanding. Basically, there may be things you think your dog understands, but in the presence of something new they may not understand their cue. For example, your dog might know what the word sit means when you are standing in front of him, but what if you are running? Or standing behind him? What if you're lying down? What if he's at the dog park? Or in the woods?

She calls it can you do it in a box training. Like from Dr. Sues.
Can you do it in a bow?
Can you do it with a fox?
Can you do it here or there?
Can you do it everywhere?

Dogs need behaviors to be generalized in order to do them consistently. There are creatures that understand patterns, but because they are so good at it, it's easy for them to trick us into thinking they understand.

For Example a likely scenario in a household might be: 'Mommy always makes me sit before dinner. So when I see he reach for my food bowl I sit. The fact that she says the word is inconsequential. In fact I don't know what that word means at all' Because of this, we need to be unpredictable. Test your dogs understanding at home. You might be surprised what they do and do not actually know!

So in Susan's blog post she asked people to come up with tests to check there dogs understanding of basic cues like sit down and stand.

So here's what I came up with. Enjoy! (watch Susan's video too. It's really good)

i do not like them in a box.
i do not like them with a fox.
i do not like them in a house.
i do not like them with a mouse.
i do not like them here or there.
i do not like them anywhere.
i do not like green eggs and ham.
i do not like them, sam-i-am.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

Gaius and I just got back from a trip, which I'll talk about in the next post. Before we left we went down to the doggy dude ranch and participated in a little practice run through for obedience. It was a good way of seeing where we were and what we needed to work on.

I was very pleased with Gaius. He held both his stays and did a beautiful recall. Stand for examination did go well. But I wasn't expecting it to. That's going to take a long time. He's still not comfortable being touched by strangers. He may never be comfortable. I just need to go to more of these to get him practice. Of course his stand for examination with people he knows is lovely. And he knows everyone in our obedience class. What can you do?

Now heeling is a a whole issue in and of itself. It was really better than I thought it was going to be to be honest. Though he still lagged a bit. But that is mostly because I can't seem to STAND UP FREAKIN' STRAIGHT! So his lagging is mostly my fault. but I have a a dilemma when it comes to this.

You see when I stand up straight and walk with Gaius in a heel position.... I can't see him over (...gah this next noun is sort of embarrassing) my boobs. He resides in my blind spot, like I'm an SUV on the highway. Shesh, only with dachshund would someone have this issue. So when I stand up straight I have to just 'trust' that Gaius is where he is suppose to be. Trust is not necessarily something I'm great with. I mean come on, I spend my free time telling another creature what to do. It's a hobby that attracts the control freak. Now on a leash this isn't such a big deal, if he's really not where he's suppose to be I'll feel tension in the leash. But off lead he could be ten yards back, peeing on the judge and I'd never know (Well aside from expletives I'm guessing the judge would make in that situation). Gaius and I need to do trust exercises like in those office retreats. Maybe we could do a zip line or I could fall backwards and he could catch me... or maybe not.

And as if not being able to see him weren't bad enough, having to bend all the way over to fed him when he's doing it right is back breaking. Anyhow, I can't wait to train a big dog to heel. What a breeze in comparision. Think about it. A big dog needs to target your side to stay in heel position. Its head should stay in that position. A dog Gaius' height's visual marker is my ankle. Now think which moves more erratically when you walk. Linda said the best thing would be for me to move out of novice as quickly as possible. There is much less heeling in the upper levels. But we have to get though stand for examination first.

So now to the video tape. It boring (As obedience is pretty boring) so I added Queen. Sean being bored half way through the down stay cracks me up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trick Title Update: I'm not feeling so good.....

Wow, its been a while. Sorry about that. Life happens as you know and I've been very busy with work stuff which has kept me away from the blog for a while. Not from training of course... Never from that :P Anyhow I'm back and I have a new trick to show you all. I actually completed this one before I left on my long hiatus. But better late then never right?

So this trick took an evening to learn.... and maybe six or so sessions? I guess. It was a while ago. Very easy to get him to retrieve the tissue. The throw away part took some time. Mostly with me figuring out the logistics. Leaning the trash can against the cupboard worked. If it wasn't held up he'd put his front feet up and topple the thing over. Which freaked him out a bit so our progress was momentarily slowed.

P.S. My voice is especially irritating in this one. Sorry about that :) Turn the volume down.