Archive for August, 2013

Well since a few posts were delayed, I figured I’d make this one a day early. We’ve had a lot of fun today working on wait, leave it and starting weaving between legs. We also started working on roll over. This week is one of my busiest at work, but we still managed a few trips to new places including the Farmer’s Market and Downtown as students were returning.

We’re still working on loose leashing walking. I’m reminding myself that my trainer told me it could take ua year when I started with the Labrador. And even with the Labrador who is two we aren’t perfect. I am trying to be more consistent with both of them. We’ve added a new game to it, putting a treat on the ground and walking to it. If the leash stays loose, he gets the treat. If it doesn’t there are penalty yards! And we try again.

The Golden is also learning to catch. We are using dog cheese puffs for this. Something light and airy. If he doesn’t catch the treat, he doesn’t get the treat (well that’s the idea — sometimes he’s faster than I am!). Currently he has about a 90% success rate. Cheese tossing will come soon!

This weekend his sister (another litter) earned her RA. The weekend before she earned her RN and CD. His brother earned two legs of his RN. My little guy has big shoes to follow, but I know we’ll get there. I signed up for a Performance Puppy class that will start in October that I’m really looking forward to (and a Novice Competition class for the Labrador).

The coming months we have a lot going on. The Labrador is going to be competing in about 21 days. We have a Show N Go next weekend, and the Golden will be coming to experience his first show like conditions. Currently the Labrador has an Agility class, and then in October she’ll have Novice Obedience and Rally, while the puppy will be in Performance Puppy class. New classes, with new trainers. So much more to learn. And the Beagle just laughs at them both as she snarfs up the treats just for being cute!

Here’s the puppy practicing his sit/stay and leave it today. Ignore the junk in the background 😉



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The Box Game and Patience

I tried the box game with the Labrador once before. It didn’t work. She sat in front of me, watching me, waiting for me to give her some sort of command. I was convinced I’d screwed up somewhere along the line, having not introduced this game/concept earlier. Convinced that I’d somehow taken away my dog’s ability to offer behaviors, and from here on out I’d have to teach her everything by luring. What can I say? I’m still new to this!

Today I decided to try again. And this time I decided to be patient. At first the Labrador behaved like last time. She sat in front me, looking from to the treats, eagerly waiting for me to give a command. I didn’t. She laid down, hoping eagerly for a treat. Nope didn’t happen. She moved into heel position. Nothing. I waited, keeping my eye ever on the box, until finally she looked at it! Click! Treat!

And then she went back to sitting, and watching me, waiting for a command. I think this is where I gave up last time. This time I waited. I realized that she was offering me behaviors, just so far ones we’d trained and I’d given a lot of reinforcement for. But the ability to offer behaviors was there. I just had to wait. I had to be patient. And she looked at the box again! Click! Treat!

Oh but then the idea is to up the criteria. So the next time she looked at the box there was no click. There was no treat. She defaulted back to trained behaviors — moving back into a very nice heel position. And yet no treat was forthcoming.

Again I waited. And I’m so glad I did. It was so amusing to watch as she offered behaviors. Nose to box. Click! Treat! Jump over the box (that one had me giggling). Click! Treat! One paw in box! Then we got two! Then it was back leg in box. Then the box got picked up and brought to me. Then we worked up to three legs in the box!

I haven’t broken my dog. I just need to learn patience. Amazing how so often we think we’re teaching them, but really they are teaching us.

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And I’m freaking out because it feels like there is so much to do, and not enough time! I also suspect I’ve said that before in a post. I have a feeling I may always feel that way, at least while I still have to work a real job to support this dog habit of mine!

I am trying to work more on having all three dogs out in the house without it being WWF Puppy wrestling. For awhile I assumed it was the Puppy causing the issues, only to realize the Labrador is just as much to blame. I must figure this out. Right now Golden is on leash, laying next to me chewing on a bone. Beagle is under the living table with her bone, and Labrador is in the dining room on the floor. It’s a start.

This week I had both the Labrador and the Golden in the car without either being in a crate, and that went well. One day I will have my dogmobile as my husband calls it, where I can fit several crates in the car and travel with all the dogs comfortably. Next car.

This week we met cows, and experienced floating docks and metal ramps. We saw, and heard deer. We’ve worked on loose leash walking, and it’s getting better, though we have far to go. We went to the local University during move in and experienced the sights and sounds of that insanity as well as sitting on a bench down town on Saturday evening.

One thing I’ve never done before is paid a lot of attention to puppy teeth over the years of dogs I’ve had. This time I’ve been watching and paying attention. Though I still haven’t found one, I have noticed when one is missing. I watched as two teeth in the back rose up, and felt like they were completely in and yet still completely covered by gum. Yesterday the tooth finally broke through. It cannot be comfortable! We have all sorts of things for him to chew on, which reminds me I need to do another batch of frozen kongs this week.

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Rain, rain go away! Seems like all it’s done this summer is rain! My shoes are currently in the dryer since we didn’t let that stop us from training at the park this morning.

The puppy worked on his sits, downs, stands, stays and comes. We did a few spins and circles. We also played — retrieving balls, and playing tug. One thing I don’t think I did enough of with the Labrador during training at the start was play, so I’m making sure to incorporate more this time around.

After training we went to Petsmart to do more training (and buy more treats). Everyone loved the Golden of course, and he did some wonderful comes through the aisles, did some good downs and sits and stays. He even did speak and shake to earn his treat at check out. We then went through the drive thru at Panera. I didn’t know they kept treats for dogs there. Now I know!

Last week I wrote a list of goals — I’ll now add my updates:

  • Increase duration of stays – worked on duration AND distance. I’ve managed walking behind now on both sit and down, now to increase the circumference of the circle around him.
  • Introduction of Puzzle – he figured out the sliders, but not the flip part yet.
  • Crawl – getting much longer a crawl!
  • Back — no longer luring
  • Front — dong well
  • Keep working sit, down, stand, spin, circle, touch, and come — all still coming along nicely
  • Keep working Heel and Strut – gorgeous heeling today!
  • Practice focus – need to do this today, increased duration to 5 seconds before click this week
  • Walk on a loose leash – been doing this — need to do more!
  • Find out how to teach him to weave through my legs — forgot this. Something to add to this week.
  • Play! — ALWAYS!

Much of this I’ll continue doing this week, but I’m going to add in some shaping exercises I think. This week we put down the Wii Fit Balance Board and just treated him as he interacted with it to see what kind of behaviors he’d offer. I never did this with the Labrador.

We signed up for Beginner class which will start next month. This week I want to focus more on sit to greet. While we have a while before we’ll be attempting the CGC I’d like to be ready!

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This post was delayed due to company this weekend. The Golden got to meet his human grandparents and cousins. I think he liked it. He also got to his one new location for this week — the hotel!

I think it’s a good thing I’m keeping notes, since this week I felt like a slacker but going back through my notes shows we had some good accomplishments. Our stays are doing well — increasing in distance and time. I’ve also managed to walk all the way behind him, step over him and even take a quick step out of sight!

Focus is something else we’ve been working on, just clicking and treating when he gives it in all different locations.

Games take up a lot of our time. Tennis balls are wonderful. Tug toys are great. And we’ve even started playing with a little bumper. He’s a fantastic retriever. We also did recalls through the tunnel in the backyard this week.

He hit 27 lbs this week. He’s growing! He’s now bigger than the Beagle. We’ve increased his food a little, and tonight I did something maybe I should have done before now. Up until now he’s mostly either been fed in his X-pen with a Kong Wobbler, or bowl, or as training treats. So tonight I fed him, the Labrador and the Beagle together in the kitchen, making sure to carefully watch everyone. They’ve eaten a few times with all the bowls against the X-pen (him inside, and the other two outside), but this was the first time without any sort of barrier between them. No issue, though I will continue to be watchful. I probably don’t have anything to worry about, but seems smarter to be careful.

Golden Goals for this week:

  • Increase duration of stays
  • Introduction of Puzzle
  • Crawl
  • Back
  • Front
  • Keep working sit, down, stand, spin, circle, touch, and come
  • Keep working Heel and Strut
  • Practice focus
  • Walk on a loose leash
  • Find out how to teach him to weave through my legs
  • Play!

I think I need more hours in the day…..

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The Golden is a S.T.A.R. Puppy!

I got a bit nostalgic Monday night when we passed this test. About two years ago the Labrador earned her S.T.A.R. puppy award, and while at that time I had no idea where we were heading it definitely started us on our path. We’ve met so many people, learned so much, and I know that there is just so much more to learn. The Labrador’s Medal is hanging to my left right now. I was so proud of it! I still am.

So now the Golden will be getting one too. It will be the first thing on his brag board (which reminds me I need to buy another cork board!). He passed his Puppy class, and now we’ll be signing up for Beginner, though it doesn’t start for another month. Meanwhile I’ve signed up for my first online training class: Raising a Performance Puppy. While I didn’t go for one of the interactive slots, I’m looking forward to the information it contains. Tonight we practiced the focus exercises, recall and of course playing!

Heeling is now happening with the treat not being in the hand! I’ve decided to train him to heel on the right as well with the command “strut”. Our “stay” duration/distance is increasing, and I’ve started moving to the side and behind. Tonight on a sit-stay I managed to get all the way behind him without him breaking the stay!

This week the Golden also got his first marrow bone. He definitely approved!

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