Seminar with Ken and Kathy

It’s June and the weather is even warmer. We had about 29° C today (84 F), wich is very warm when you live in Norway. I unfortunatly spent most of the day in the car, as we drove north to buy our new car (a Toyota Yaris Verso). It was very warm this weekend as well, but we spent it indoors, listening to Ken Ramirez and Kathy Sdao who gave a seminar on many interesting subjects. The best thing about seminars is that you get a lot of inspiration to do what you pretty much have known for a long time you should be doing. Kathy held a good lecture about counter-conditioning for dog-dog aggression. It made me see why I have failed some times in the past and gave me inspiration to try it at home. We have to female dogs that really don’t get along. I have no hope in getting them to accept each other (one of them is 11 years old), but the conflict has made Missy bark every time some one walks out the front door. I would really like to try counter-conditioning, but as Kathy pointed out, you need to make sure that you do it right. If I’m starting this project, I need to make sure that no one uses that door when I’m not around to feed Missy. I also have to do training sessions where we plan the door opening. She should get all her food (her raw food is the best food she knows) during these sessions (she can have kibble when we do other training). It’s also very important that the food comes after she hears the door (about a second later).

Another thing I want to try at home is Ken Ramirez’s concept training. I want to teach Pi modifier ques such as left and right (not left and right as a behavior, but as a concept that can be used with many differend behaviors). It was also very cool to hear about dogs doing mimicry, but I think that will have to wait… We had dinner with Ken and Kathy on Saturday night and we had some interesting discussions about how to add cues (Clicker trainers here often want to add the cue as the dog performs the behavior, but Kathy agreed with me that it’s more effective to give the cue just before the dog offers the behavior).

After the seminar yesterday, we wen’t to a nice beach where Pi had her first experience with going in the water. She was not reluctant to go in the water at all and she seemed to enjoy it a lot. I hope that we can go swimming with the dogs tomorrow if the weather is still warm. I havn’t done a lot of training today. We did recalls with Pi and she was really good. Missy got a session with some obedience and some double box training. She is still knocking a lot of bars, but I think she does some really nice things as well.

Being shaped by a cocker

As a puppy, Shejpa would always run away from me when she got a toy in her mouth. Her behavior has improved since then and she usually gets praise for her nice retrieves from the field trial people. However, during the last couple of weeks, she has started to run away with toys that i throw for her or let her win during a game of tug. It wasn’t all that bad at first, I could usually get her to come if i called her, and sometimes I just had to wait a little longer… But then it got worse, and yesterday, she wouldn’t even come to me with a boring toy and trade it for chicken necks. I suddenly realized that her reinforcement didn’t come from running around with the toy, but from my reactions. I think this is very common and we often don’t even stop and think about it, because we’re so into getting the toy back and running the sequence again. The behavior gets even worse and then we stop throwing toys to avoid the behavior…

When I realized this, it took me about five minutes to fix it. I wish I had been wize enough to take action the first time she ran off with the toy, but I often do whats the most reinforcing right now (getting the toy back so that I can run some more agility) just like the dogs. How did i fix it? Well. I had my tasty chicken necks (that Shejpa really loves) and I gave her an easy task: Give the toy back to me when I let you win it during tug. She failed. So I went to Pax, our german pointer that was resting on the field, and I gave him her chicken necks. She came back and I put her back in her crate while i did some training with Pax. I wanted her to leave me. I didn’t care about what she did once she got the toy. Her toy was of no interest to me, but I had the chicken necks and I really like to feed it to the bearded dog if she isn’t around… After a few repetitions, she started to give me the toy right away (and got fed for it, of course), so I challenged her some more by throwing the toy to her during agility. She came right back to me! I couldn’t get her to not come straight to me every time. I’m curious about what she’ll do in training today, but I’m sure that I’ll bring another dog out with me.

“Dog’s are better at shaping people than people are at shaping dogs”
Susan Garrett

Nice weekend

It’s been a very sunny and nice weekend. The house has been full of people since we’ve done a workshop and had students staying here. We had a nice dinner outside yesterday and we did training outside until 9.30 pm today and it was still light and warm. We’ve had lots of time to train our own dogs as well and with three dogs entered in obedience trials in may, we have some work to do. Pi (english setter, 11 months) is doing her first obedience competitions, Pavlov (border collie, 2 years, Thomas’ dog) is doing his second competition, this time in the second class and Missy (border collie, 4 years in a few days) is in the highest class, called elite. With a lot of dogs around, we’ve been able to do many long downs with strange dogs, wich is a good experience for our young dogs.

I took Pi to the woods this evening, and we worked on the retrieve and on some tricks (to improve her concentration for work in more challenging situations). Her retrieve was great and she really reminds me of a field bred retriever some times. She was very obedient and excited about her work tonight. We ended on our training field with some obedience excercises where I put her favourite food in a bowl and rewarded her with a send to the bowl when she worked well for a while.

Pi is in heat right now and our males are very interested in her. We always use the opportunity to do It’s Yer Choice with the male dogs, so Pax had to make some challenging retrieves in order to get the chance to sniff the pretty white lady. No problem with controlling the males around bitches in heat here, they just work even harder to maybe get the chance to go see.

We also got our little pool up this weekend. Missy and Pavlov went for their first swim this year. They really love swimming and I hope that I can use the pool to get them in better shape this summer.


There are more new photos from this weekend in the gallery