Keep Austin Dog Friendly

Through Responsible Dog Ownership.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More dog training goals for Mouse and Basil - Private lesson notes from August 2009

Mouse and Basil had another private lesson on August 29th with Judy Ramsey.  We sure do have quite a bit of homework to do.  Here's my notes from our lesson. 

 For Basil:

1. Handler Error: I haven't been giving her very clear signals as when to when we are working, and when we aren't. I need to give obvious signals as to when she needs to be on task and when it is okay to chill.
2. Basil hesitates before jumping up and tends to swing out to the left when heeling instead of staying very close to my leg.  To fix this, I will heel to the right.  Either by pivoting or by veering to the right or by spiraling to the right, Basil will be challenged to keep right next to my leg.  I will do this at very short intervals, and release her to treats on the front of my calves.  That will teach her to wrap around close to my left leg. 
3. Right and Left Pivots.  I'll pivot to the right or left and release her immediately.  The goal is to teach her to not hesitate and to reinforce the heel position.  Teaching her to move to move with my left leg when I say heel (instead of just going forward) should reinforce that heel is a position, not a movement. 
4. Step right when I heel will also reinforce the heel position.  It should not matter if I step right, left, back, front, or pivot, Basil should stay glued to my left leg.
5. Shaping heeling - I haven't done this before as I started with other methods of heeling with Basil.  To shape it, I'll take a couple of steps and treat her. Take more steps and treat. More steps and treat. This is rewarding her for being by my side, but not necessarily teaching her the exact position. 
6. Building drive on starts - Starts are essentially the start of each exercise.  In competitive obedience, each exercise starts with the dog in heel position and the judge asking "Are you ready?"  At that point, my dog should be up (focused and attentive).  I start training for this by putting my dog in start position, then doing something fun.  I can play with a toy. Throw her a treat. Jump around. It needs to be something that makes my dog go "WHOA! What was that?" Over time, start position should be associated with something fun and interesting.  Start position = good things to come.

For Mouse:

1. Mouse also needs motivation on the line up.  This is a fairly common issue.  Many dogs can lose focus when sitting at the start up.  By pairing line ups with something fun, the dog will start to anticipate fun stuff during line ups, thus keeping the focus.
2. Alternate exercise with drive games - doing this increases endurance for motivation and speed.  By alternating adding a drive game after exercises instead of treating, this will build more endurance for focus, energy, and the expectation of working even after an exercise is completed. 
3. Teaching Mouse to motivate himself - This is a fast paced, pre-planned training method.  It is a mixture of changing positions mixed with exercise.  I should give Mouse a command, treat fast, then throw a toy, then give the come command, treat, throw toy, give command, push and play, throw toy.  This is should teach him endurance, as well, as focus to switch quickly from one activity to another. 
4. I need to do the same thing with sits to achieve faster sits. I should give the command to sit, fast treat, I change positions but not move far, sit command, fast treat, change positions, sit command, fast treat, change positions, sit command, etc......
5. Mouse needs more work on right turns. There are two different methods: the 270 turn and treating right out of the right turn.  We started 270 degree right turns after the last private lessons, but they are exceptionally difficult for any dog.  Dogs will have a tendency to lag, and the goal is to keep the dog right on your left leg or hip, depending on the size of the dog.  I'll start with the right turn, and treat Mouse upwards and almost across the front of my body as I'm turning.  As I turn, I'll shift my eyes, shoulders, upperbody, before turning.  Mouse is picking up on these cues when I turn slowly, but he isn't quite doing it quickly yet.  After he has mastered the right turn, we're going to move to 270 degree turns.  Using the same basic concept, I'll treat Mouse immediately out of the 270 degree turn, keep trucking it, 270 turn, and keep heeling, 270 turn, etc....