Gracie 11wks

Growing some legs.  Gracie is now as tall as the corgi and weighs about 14lbs.  I am happy to report that she is getting some spunk as she has really been getting into tugging this past week.  Unfortunately she loves to thrash the toy.  Cute at 14lbs, not so cute at over 50lbs!

Training this last week:
1. Perch work- Is starting to go almost all the way to heel/side position without a lure.  Learning how to maintain position through small quarter turns.
2. Things that move- Introduction to wobble board, skateboard, and large rolling cookie tin filled with marbles.
3. Shaping retrieve-  Didn't get very far with this one.  Successfully taught nose touch to a variety of objects, but have been unable to get any more than that.  Haven't done too many sessions for fear of staying at the same criteria for too long.  Will take a few days off than try again for opening of mouth.

I desperately need a new camera as I have almost no pictures of the labrador.  But  instead, be appeased by short video of snoring puppy.


UDX Leg #3!

Lance was entered in the Minneapolis Kennel Club obedience trial today.

Lance got almost no warmup time due to me not realizing some dogs were absent.  Apparently this produces an extra forging corgi!  Off on every single front as well. 

Stays worried me as Lance went down on his sit in the run throughs held the night before.  He lasted maybe 30sec before downing.  I had him do a 2nd sit instead of the long down on the run through, rewarded at 3.5min and then stuck in sight for the remaining time and he was a good boy.  Obviously I need to get to more run throughs as it can replicate Lance's "trial only" stay issues.

Back to the trial, I could see Lance scratching less than 5sec after I left him.  By the time I got to the door I peeked again and he was sniffing the ground.  I did not have high hopes!  But I returned to find that he was still in a sit!  Yay for Lance for working through the stress.

Lance was a different dog in his utility run.  My notes for this particular judge state he has a big ring presence and Lance has felt the pressure.  I noticed that again today, but he also seemed more distracted in general.  Several big point losses today and several moments of making me hold my breath.

On the gloves Lance didn't sit and look at me on the pivot, and then took a half second detour on his return as he thought about heading to either the #2 glove location or the crowd.  His heeling was much nicer than in open and he was thrilled to hear applause after his front from the open ring :)  Go outs were fabulous but he didn't sit on the 2nd one.  Moving stand was picture perfect if heeling is defined as a body length in front of me.  But he didn't move a single foot, even as the judge actually shoved his hand into his nose.  Articles were interesting.  Lance looked at the judge once on the first send, but nicely brought me the correct one and then dropped it just out of reach.  Made my heart stopped for a full second and then graciously picked it up and fronted.   Second article was the first one he sniffed and he picked it up but then dropped it after going 2 feet to research the pile. 

Not the prettiest score, but still a Q!  Considering Lance failed almost every utility attempt last year it looks like we're on a better start with 3 for 3 in 2013. 

Glad I only entered today as it looks as though I've succumbed to sickness.  Oh and pictures came from last months trial, yay :)


Gracie 10wks

If you've met Bubba before but haven't yet gotten to meet Gracie, just picture the exact opposite.  Calm, deliberate, social butterfly, in control of ones body...

This past week's learning:
1. Verbal sit and down, most of the time.
2. Mat- Have a send with automatic dog from a distance.  Starting duration
3. Crate games- using the crate to start a "stay"
3. Perch work- pivoting to heel/side.  Clicking offered hind leg movement without me moving, using the reward to turn her head/body all the way
4.Offering body movements- Shaping the head down trick, and offering tricks previously lured such as rollover and spin.


Vito USDAA Trial

Vito had 3 runs- gamblers, standard, and pairs.
- Happy on all 3 runs :)
- Took awhile to become awake in warming up for the 2 morning runs
- Still prefers 4 on for teeter in trials instead of his trained 2o2o
- Hesitated on the jump wrap I practiced in gamblers, but loved accelerating out of it to the aframe.  yay :)
- Stood up on the judges GO for his table count.  And I let him.
- Still loves going 2nd in pairs.  Had to be one of his fastest runs in a trial!
- Recovered extremely quickly from said pair partner running over to see Vito before they started.
- Possibly ran faster on pairs because it was in the afternoon?  Was WAY more excited on warmup even before I brought out his toy.
- Knocking bars.  Knocked 2 in gamblers and 2 in standard (after DW, last)

NQ in master gamblers because he said the teeter was too far:
NQ in adv standard due to bar knocking
Q in master pairs.  So sad it wasn't filmed :(

3 Runs- jumpers, standard, pairs
- Happy on all 3 runs, got faster with each one
- Decided to early release his teeter to save him the trouble of possibly stopping 4 on anyway
- Definitely an afternoon dog.  Or maybe just feels more confident with more runs
- Going 2nd in pairs wouldn't have been a good course for him today, but first equaled the dogwalk :) 
-  Ran off to see the bar setter in pairs.  Grandma was also around and I think Vito was sniffing for her before going in the ring and then used that excuse to go see someone.  Didn't seem anxious by it.
- Pulling off jumps easier today.  I think the one in jumpers he had to be less than a foot in front of it when I turned to run off.
- No knocked bars today!

NQ in Adv Jumpers due to skipping a jump
NQ in Master Pairs due to partner's off course
NQ in Adv Standard due to off courses and pulling off of a jump

Actual qualifying rate was sad but I thought Vito had a great weekend.  There were a few times I thought he was going to worry about a judge or bar setter as they were moving when we walked in, but he decided to scream at me instead, yay :)

Hopefully I'm starting to address the pulling off of jumps issue in practice now so I can't expect him to be fixed in a trial setting.  I tried hard to sprint out of turns if the course allowed it and I know it's an area that's going to be a work in progress to remember to get my butt in gear.

And while I can't stop myself from comparing his speed in trials to speed in class to speed when by ourselves, I can honestly say that I am finally settled in and happy to enjoy the journey.


Gracie 9wks

Yes, this happened.  I think Vito must have been knocked unconscious.
Gracie continues to be a fairly calm and confident puppy.  Lance loves her now, of course, and Vito does a pretty good job of ignoring her.  Crate training is much improved.  It's amazing how quick progress can occur with a normal dog!

Gracie's 2nd week in Training:

1. Verbal sits and downs- Verbal cues are very important for service dog work so I'm introducing them right before she offers the behavior.  I think she might be starting to pick up that my words have some importance.

2. Go Mat- We have a send, I am now backing up distance to work on a quickly lured and now an offered down.

3. Perch work- Sends to 2 front feet on.  Starting pivoting around while I move.  This is somewhat difficult as she also likes to sit and of course that's incompatible with moving!

4. More shaping with objects- She's really starting to get it this week.  We've done 4 feet in a box, touch a target, go through a round cat toy...

5. Training with food dish on floor- Food bowl can move easily back and forth and she maintains eye contact.  Now working more on getting her to actively move away from the dish to do tricks such as hand targeting.  She says this is hard stuff.

6. Not interfering with other dogs training- Starting to work with the boys after Gracie is done with her dinner.  So far she's been the easiest puppy ever to learn not to interfere!  I can't say she's perfect, but she is only 9 weeks after all :)


Using Reverse Luring- Zen Keeper

*Update 1/2018- I have been informed that the method I describe below is not actually reverse luring.  To respect the actual reverse luring technique I am changing the name of the method below to Zen Keeper in order to reference it as a doggy zen version of a keep going signal.  You can find my update FAQ on the topic in this new blog post by clicking here

I often think that getting a behavior is relatively easy, but having duration to that behavior can be immensely difficult.  I can't remember when I stumbled upon the principle of reverse luring but the discovery of the training technique has made getting duration much easier!  I believe Fanny Gott uses the method and/or some other European trainers, but I haven't heard much of it.  Before RL I was stuck with pure shaping, selecting the reps where the time was just a half second longer than average.

Reverse luring is similar to It's yer choice and doggy zen in that the dog has to make the choice to move away from food being held as a distraction.  But RL also is a feedback system for the dog in that it can communicate as a keep going signal and as a no reward marker.  An open hand=the dog is correct, a closed fist=try again.  Sometimes I will also remove my hand when the dog is wrong, but I'm not consistent in that use and I'm not sure if that was part of the original technique.  As a proofing method in later steps, I also use RL to cause the dog to think harder about the behavior and resist moving towards the food.  I do this my starting to move my hand with the food around the dog.  In some cases I will start the RL before the dog does the behavior such as having my treat hand held out in my right hand when I ask the dog to move to heel position or held out in both hands when I ask the dog to front.

Because there are scarcely any videos on youtube, I decided to make my own showing RL being used to teach 3 behaviors.
1. A chin rest to a chair (eventually used as a "go visit" another person command and also useful for teaching a dog to rise and drop an item onto a counter.)
2. A hold as the last step in teaching a retrieve
3. Calming da Bubba.  RL was used a lot with him to get rid of his spastic behavior in shaping :)


Let me know if you try this method and what you thought!

Update!:  I've gotten some feedback that people are confused about the difference between reverse luring and proofing.  The answer is reverse luring can be proofing, but that proofing isn't necessarily reverse luring :)  I use RL in order to TEACH the concept of duration and in later steps I can use it as proofing in order to further a dog's understanding.  For example, with a dog who understands dip head to the floor but has zero understanding of keeping it there, then RL can be the perfect way to get duration through the feedback system it provides to the dog.  I wouldn't really consider this proofing because the dog doesn't understand the concept of duration, yet.  But once the dog does understand that keeping head to floor is what gets the treats, then this can morph into straight proofing.  You can see this later step in the video by me starting to move my hand with the food so that the dog now has to concentrate even harder on the task at hand.   I hope that helps!

And since many come come here for help with reverse luring in teaching a solid hold, here is an additional post using reverse luring to teach a hold!


New Tricks in Progress

In January I decided to get back into teaching the boys some new tricks.  It's been awhile since we learned some new things and last month I had no foster puppy to distract me.  We haven't had a ton of sessions and even less since Gracie has come, but the tricks are still on my goal list.  At the rate we are progressing they are likely going to be the only tricks we get to in 2013 :)

With Lance I wanted to try
1. Quickly alternating lifting his two front paws, but more like hopping back and forth rather than drumming.

This is proving to be somewhat easy of a trick, but one that Lance really doesn't care for.  If he's happy about it it's super cute!, but just as frequently Lance likes to curse at me instead.

2. Say no. 
I thought I'd shape Lance to turn his head first over his left shoulder, and then seperately teach him to turn his head to his right shoulder.  The left shoulder one went very quickly and he can actually repeatedly offer so that it could be saying no in and of itself.  But really it's more of a repeated twitch rather than a no so I then started to teach the other shoulder.  For some reason the right shoulder is extremely difficult for Lance to grasp.  He gets stressed very quickly and Lance easily shuts down when stressed.  We're still working on it.

3. Walk in my slippers
Not going so well either.  Apparently he's rusty in his free shaping to objects as I can tell Lance really isn't thinking about HOW he's interacting with them.  He's flinging his body all over the slippers and just being obsessed about the food.  I can also tell that I really need to borrow a pair of Crocs as the slippers are just too easy to squish and thus he's not able to get enough success with aiming his feet properly.

Vito's tricks
1. Shame from a sit.
Vito finally learned to put his paw over his nose in a down position sometime last year.  Doing it from a sit has proved to be just as difficult as teaching shame initially.  I don't think he's understanding that he can physically lift his paw to bring it to his nose vs having to lower his head to the paw.  Trying to help him get this by having him rest his paw on my arm and then asking for it.  Some progress is starting to be made.  In another variation, Vito quickly got how to do bow+shame, but again that allowed him to bring his nose to the paw.

2. Retrieve his tail.
I did not think teaching him to bite a body part would be so difficult!!!  He's been trying SO hard and picked up on it being about his tail very quickly but would just not try biting.  Lots of shoving his nose both above and below his tail.  I then tried putting vet wrap on his tail and left a little flap hanging for him to bite.  That was a great idea for him and it wasn't long for me to get rid of the flap and then get rid of the vet wrap completely.  Unfortunately, we are now stuck at Vito biting the tail but not having any sort of hold.  I think part of this problem is because although my dogs have a fantastic hold of objects, they have never done it while I'm holding the object too.  I'm currently holding his tail to help him grab it easier.  Plus, it's his tail :)

3. Walk in slippers.
Word of warning, teaching a dog to dig it/scratch is extremely self reinforcing.  Vito wants to dig at the slippers or scratch them backwards as if hiking them.  It has been a painful process to get just standing on them, let alone aiming for the proper spot.  And then whenever he gets the tiniest bit frustrated the digging appears again.  On the positive side, while Vito is having the same problem as Lance in really needing a pair of Crocs, he does seem to be thinking more about proper foot location than his brother is.


Gracie's 1st week

Gracie has been with us for one week now.  Based off of this short time with us, I'm labeling her the loudest puppy I have ever had.  Gracie likes to let her opinions be known and at 8wks of age most of her opinions revolve around the crate.  From my previous experience, puppies usually scream in their crate for what feels like the longest 15 minutes of all time.  Then they shut up and fall to sleep.  But Gracie has mastered the art of grumbling while lying down and thus can make noises for hours.

Cute when her mouth is shut

On the positive side, I can see that Gracie doesn't have real anxiety issues and thus is making improvement quickly.  The first time I fed her breakfast in her crate she almost went on a hunger strike at the indignity of it all, but then quickly remembered she was a Labrador.  Gracie is now being decent at being crated at certain times in the afternoon and during the night.  What remains to be conquered is being quiet after the early morning potty break and during the evening while I'm teaching classes.  I'm hoping another week of work will quiet her resistance and give me some more sleep.

Gracie is also proving to be a calm and extremely cuddly puppy.  She is content to sit in your arms all day if you let her.  I thought I'd be more disappointed at her calmness, but I admit it's been a very nice change from Bubba!  I'm still hoping some more pep develops as her personality starts to shine in the upcoming weeks.  Gracie is one of the most confident puppies I have ever had.  At first her cuddly nature deceived me as I took it for nervousness, but the moment you set her down on the floor she is extremely bold.  Gracie will walk up to any person, dog, or object to say hi and if I don't hold her leash she is immediately off exploring.  I have never known an 8wk old puppy to be so willing to head off on their own, even going so far away from their human that they disappear from sight!

Training wise, we are working on the following:
1. Crate games :)  - offering going into various crates, staying in with the door open, and learning a release word.

2. Sit and Down- lured at first, now offered sits, and trying to get offered downs.

3. Shaping to objects- Getting Gracie to offer standing in, on, and going through objects

4. Leaving the food dish while training- I train with the food dish on the ground, so Gracie is learning to get over it.  Slowly :)

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