Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Rear End Awareness - More Puppy Stuff

In all we do with our dogs we ask for some very precise movements. It only makes sense to take some time to develop their back end awareness . I like ladder work as well as different pole configurations to help dogs of all ages develop co-ordination and rear end awareness.

With the ladder the dog should step in each rung. Speed is not important and the dog should not hop through the ladder. The poles are one of my favourite things, this configuration came from a Tellington Touch book. The book uses cavelletti poles in all different configurations to develop confidence in horses and dogs, the confidence comes through body awareness and shows up in movement and carriage. This particular pattern (I call it the star) can be made more challenging by lifting the poles to rest on the tunnel. The handler can actually stand inside the tunnel and have the dog walk the raised portion of the pole. This would be pretty advanced for a puppy, not to mention too easy for the handler.

The video below is of a typical training session with 17 week old Reese. She is loosing teeth left and right, or we would normally tug once we completed an exercise. For this session we used praise and treats. It works , and I think it is good to alternate motivators and reinforcers.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

To Tug or Not To Tug

Tug of War is a good game for teaching a puppy to switch between Crazy Dog mode and Thinking Dog mode. It can help teach the pup self control and puts good behaviour on cue, even when it is more fun to do all the natural things puppies do like, grab, shake pull and growl.
Tug of War should only be played under strict rules. Here is a summary of the Rules of Tug taken from the San Francisco SPCA Behavior and Training Department.

1. Dog must out on command
2. Must only tug with designated object and when invited to take
3. No uninvited takes or re-takes
4. Frequent Obedience breaks
5. Zero Tolerance for Miscues or any broken rules. If the pup contacts skin, Screech “OUCH” even if it didn’t hurt and promptly end the game. Even if the miscue is an accident, the dog must go out of their way to avoid skin contact or face a game misconduct (game ends)

Important: Children should not play Tug of War with dogs, unless they know and can uphold “ALL” the rules.

The Rules of Tug
demonstrated by 16 week old Reese.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Puppy Stuff - Foundation Training

So the foundation training begins for young Reese. In Puppy K this week, we did an impulse control exercise to nip jumping up, while greeting, in the bud. In this exercise the pups leash is looped to the door knob, the handler walks away, then returns to greet the pup, the pup usually jumps up to greet, the handler stops the approach and waits for the puppy to sit, then quickly marks the behavior with a yes (or click) and treats the pup in a sit.

In the 1st picture, you can see Reese came out to the end of the lead before she sat, but in the next picture, she did not strain to the end of the leash and sat before she got to the end of the leash without jumping up.

This week at home I have been trying some exercises from a book received at Puppy Camp a couple of years ago. The book is From the Ground Up: Agility Foundation Training
for Puppies and Beginner Dogs
by Kim Collins. The exercise we worked on this week is called Stool work. It is an exercise designed to help the pup gain back end awareness. The idea is to have the dog come up onto the stool (which is only about 6 to 8 inches high) with their front feet and then move their back legs around the stool. Reese likes to balance herself on the stool, but does stand with her front feet on the stool and rotate her back feet around the stool.

The other exercise we have been working on at home this week is the nose touch to the hand. This can help bring the pup back into focus. I like to use it as a hands off approach to getting the pup where you want them.