Freedom Paws Assistance Dogs' Joey had to have emergency surgery on February 27, 2014 to remove 8 inches of his small intestines. Joey has recovered quickly, but Freedom Paws is currently trying to pay for his vet bills for his emergency surgery. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/joey-s-funds-assistance-dog-in-training/
In the last few weeks I have been testing Bolt for Search and Rescue work. A big part of the testing is playing the "Hide and Seek" game. This reminded how important this game is to building a strong recall. For beginners you will need someone to help you. Have the other person hold your dog get very excited and let the dog watch you go hide. Once in hiding call the dog. As soon as the dog finds you give it a big reward. If the dog can't find you, call its name every now and then. The goal is to make the game as fun as possible. Once the dog is able to find you while watching have the other person cover the dog's eyes. Run and hide and call the dog. Big reward once the dog finds you. Eventually you can make the searches tougher and tougher. Make sure it's always fun for the dog, and don't over do it. Doing these searches will increase the dog's drive to come to you. To wrap this blog up remember to make the first searches simple, then begin make the searches more difficult.
Last weeks post went over charging the clicker. Now that the clicker is charged, we can begin using it in our training sessions. The first thing I teach with the clicker when I get a new dog in, is teaching an applied leave it. A lot of the time the dogs I work with our strays that had to scavenge for food. So it is necessary to teach the applied leave it, so they can begin living in a house environment. The things you need for the applied leave it is a clicker, kibble, and high value treats. Begin by clicking when ever the dog gives you eye contact and rewarding with the high value treat. Then throw a piece of kibble on the floor, make sure the leash is tight so the dog can't get to it. As soon as the dog looks at you click and reward. Keep throwing one piece of kibble on the floor until the dog stops lunging at the food and remains focused on you. Once this happens throw a handful of food on the floor. If the dog remains focused slowly walk towards the food. The next goal is to have the dog walk over the food with out eating it. So if the dog goes after the food as you begin walking towards the food make a loud sound to distract the dog. As soon as the dog gives you eye contact click and reward. As soon as you can walk over the food pile with out the dog lunging at the food you can begin slowly work on basic commands while near the food pile. The hardest command is down so you may want to do this command with only one kibble on the floor or do it farther away from the food. In summary when you teaching the leave it, do not use any words you want an implied leave it. Work slowly from one kibble to an entire pile of food. The below video shows how to introduce leave it. The dog in the video is Gandolph he was rescued from a high kill shelter and now in training to be a service dog.
Happy New Years! This week's blog post will be on how to "charge" the clicker. You may be asking what is a clicker. A clicker is a dog training tool that lets out a clicking sound when you push it. Why would you want to use a clicker? Clicker's are consistent they always let out the same sound and they are fast to use, which are two very important parts of dog training timing and consistency. The clicker is used to mark positive behaviors, or behaviors that you want to train. The first step to properly use the clicker is to "charge" it. What is "charging." This is what you do to make the clicker an effective tool for training. The first step in "charging" the clicker is to click and follow it with a treat. You are going to do the entire first session of this. The first half of the second session you want to continue with the click and treat. Half way through the session begin to ask the dog a basic command that the dog knows well. As soon as the dog does the command click and treat. Do this for the rest of the session. The third session go ahead and start with click and treat, then add in the basic command click and treat. Half way through the session add in the final step of "charging" the clicker, which is teaching the dog a simple new behavior. For this stage I like to teach the dog to back off a treat that is in your hand. To teach this you hold a treat tightly in your hand, the dog will probably go after, do not allow the dog to get the treat. As soon as the dog backs away from the treat click and treat the dog. Now the clicker is "charged." To recap this weeks blog a clicker is a training tool that is used to enhance timing and consistency. The clicker must be "charged" properly in three sessions to be used effectively.
Happy Holidays!!! Last week I discussed the first steps of teaching your dog body awareness. First, we discussed doing ladder exercises, which builds the dogs body awareness. Next, we went over the steps on how to teach the dog how to "back." First we taught the dog the body mechanics needed, then we taught initiation, finally we added distance.
This week I will be discussing how to teach the dog how to move with handler and to be aware of the handler. When I teach body awareness of the handler I really like to do figure eight exercises. I like to set up two cones to figure eight around. When you begin you may notice that when the dog is inside it is bumping into your leg, and when the dog is on the outside it is going wide. So when the dog is bumping into you, don't move away from the dog. Make sure you continue moving in the same direction, you may need to use your knee to bump into the dog. Eventually the dog will learn that they need to pay attention to your body and where you are moving. As soon as you begin noticing the dog move its body to stay in position with you, make sure you mark it and give lots of praise. Now that you have the inside positioning figured out you can begin working on the outside. When your dog is starting to go wide, take off running in a straight line toward the other cone. Once the dog has caught up to you give it lots of praise. This is a type of surprise correction, and it will teach the dog to pay attention to you. When you are doing the figure eight make sure you the handler are moving freely and the dog is moving with you at a correct position.
The next step in teaching body awareness is teaching your dog side passing. Teaching side passing can be pretty tricky, but once you have you will see a big difference in your dog's body awareness. To teach it you need a heeling stick (can be found in any dog training catalog), and yummy dog treats or kibble. You want to have the dog's leash in your right hand and around your back and the training stick in your left hand. You want to lightly tap on the dog's back hock as you slowly move sideways. As soon as your dog moves his back legs and front legs at the same time stop and praise with treats. Slowly keep working on this eventually add more steps so the dog can begin to get the mechanics needed for the side pass. Once you have the dog moving 5 ft comfortably you can stop using the heeling stick. When you take away the heeling stick you may need to ask for less maybe one step. Then slowly add more distance. Once you have taught this to your dog you will notice the dog paying a lot of attention to your body movements.
A recap on this week's blog, figure eight exercise make sure you aren't moving around the dog, the dog should be paying attention to and should be positioning it's body around you. With side passes you need to slowly build the dog's body mechanics then begin to add distance. Below is two videos demonstrating side passes.
Now that your dog no longer pulls, you may still have problems with the dog bumping into you or getting into your personal space. I like to train all of my dogs especially the Assistance Dogs in training body awareness. The first thing I do is teach the dog how to walk through a ladder. I place the ladder next to a wall and slowly walk the dog through it. This teaches the dog how to focus on lifting their front legs , and their back legs. Once the dog has mastered the ladder, I teach the dog how to back up. To do this I make a narrow area, have the dog face me then I slowly walk into the dog. At first only have the dog to take 1-2 steps backwards. Give lots of praise for these steps. Slowly ask your dog dog take more and more steps. Eventually the dog should be able to move 10-12 ft backwards smoothly. Eventually you want to move to an open area. Start out the same way as the narrow area, only ask for 1-2 steps. Then ask for the dog to take more and more steps, this process will go a lot quicker since the dog all ready has the body mechanics. Next step, you want to train initiation. Initiation is where your dog will jump and start backing up right when you command "back." To train this, when you say back go ahead a move into the dog quickly. Do this several times your dog will start jumping and moving backwards right when you command "back." If your dog is slower you can even lightly step on their front paws. Eventually you can even look for distance, where you stand still and the dog continues to back up. To train this you want to have a toy or treat (with the Assistance Dogs in Training I only use toys since I don't want the dog to learn how to eat off the ground). Hold the toy/treat behind your back, command "back" once the dog backs a couple of steps backwards toss the toy/treat behind the dog and praise. Next time ask for the few more steps, and toss toy/treat behind the dog. Eventually the dog will continuously back up looking for you to throw the toy/treat. Below is a video of the finished product. This blog is the beginnings of teaching your dog body awareness. Remember it is important to first to teach your dog slowly the body mechanics of how to back up. Then add initiation, finally add distance. Next week's blog will be more on body awareness. Thank you for reading!
Does your dog pull on the leash?
A quick "fix" for your for this problem is to have your dog wear a gentle leader head collar. The gentle leader applies pressure around the dog's muzzle when your dog pulls on the leash. As soon as your dog submits to the pressure (stops pulling) the pressure around the dog's muzzle is released. This type of dog training is called negative reinforement (a pressure is applied until the correct behavior is exhibited, pressure is then immediately released). This method works very well and requires no leash corrections. Why does it work? If you notice in the wolf pack or even with dogs the "dominant" wolf/dog will apply pressure around the other dog's/wolf's muzzle to control it. If your dog can not handle the pressure aroud it's muzzle I suggest using the sensation harness. The sensation harness's only difference is that it applies pressure to the dog's armpits rather than their muzzle. Make sure to fit each of these correctly, if fitted incorrectly you will lose the effectiveness of the equipment.