Sunday, March 27, 2011

Small Dog Play

In January, I had the honor of watching a friend's PBGV puppy for a long weekend. Rosanne was about 6 months old at the time. I was a little concerned about whether she would survive the weekend in my house with a giant doofus. Tanner loves to play with other dogs but the height and weight differential between him and Rosanne was large!

For the first couple of days, I left Rosanne in a short x-pen in the living room when I had the big dogs out. This way, they could get acquainted through and over the pen but she would not get squished. I also kept her on leash when outside so that she wouldn't run away and get mowed down. Tanner is a pretty laid back guy but when his chase instinct kicks in, all bets are off!

Eventually, they had interacted enough that I was confident that he would listen if she told him to back off. I let them play in my living room where she could get away if need be but there wasn't enough room for her to get the zoomies. I also kept reminding Tanner to lay down to play with her instead of squishing her. He did a great job! It helps that she was also able to stay under control. I do not like to let puppies get above threshold when they play!

I did not let Shine play with Tanner and Rosanne. You can hear her towards the end of this clip starting to whine from being left out. Don't worry, I was giving her treats for staying out of the way! In most cases, it is best to have even pairs of dogs or just two out at a time. It keeps them from ganging up on each other and allows them to modify their play for each other.

It is nice to have a dog that is small-dog savvy and able to interact appropriately with other dogs! I think Tanner and Rosanne will be life-long friends!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tanner + Oregon Winter = Wet Dog

Many greyhounds do not like to get wet. In fact, Tanner does not like to go outside to potty when it is raining (but I promised him I wouldn't tell anyone). Here is proof that Tanner does not melt when he gets wet. In fact, I think he kind of likes it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Doggy Discrimination - a tale by Tanner and Tamara

Tanner knows how to do a nose touch to my hand (cue=touch) as well as a paw whack (cue=five). However, when I hold my hand out for either of these cues, it looks relatively the same. How does Tanner know what I want? He learned to wait for the cue!

I wanted Tanner to have excellent stimulus control (I only want him to offer the behavior in the presence of the cue) on these two behaviors for a couple reasons:

  1. It can be annoying for him to constantly paw at me or try to put his nose in my hand every time I hold it out.
  2. Teaching him to wait for the cue also teaches him self control.
  3. It was challenging for me to teach.
  4. It makes him use his brain. (watch for the steam towards the end of the video)
I started putting in sub headings in the pertinent points but then faded them out. A few things to point out; I often click Tanner for not responding to the hand alone, I want him to wait for the cue! When he makes a mistake, I take my hand back, pause a beat, then try again. If he does not respond at all, I take my hand back thus ending the possibility of getting a reward, pause a beat, then try again.

I do not tell him "No" when he does the wrong thing. I don't want to punish him for trying. Why? Because a dog that is not afraid to try things is easier to train. Besides, he "gets it" without the aversives!

Another thing to note is that both of these behaviors were trained pretty fluently at home. We have taken them "on the road" and used them in other situations as well. However, this is the first time I have asked him to discriminate outside the house. We are at our local dog training gym, a place very familiar to him. Although he does not hesitate or make mistakes at home, you can see that this environment is a bit distracting and he has to work a bit harder to concentrate.

Hey, I created a thinking dog! How about that?!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Darby Learns to Track

Darby on one of his first tracks. He is still learning what scent means. Typically at this stage of learning three short tracks are laid. The tracks are double laid and with lots of food drops. In the beginning the dog is of course following the food drops. At first they are wandering along the track looking for food drops and wondering what is going on. The handler is keeping them on the track on a short leash. Somewhere along the line the dog recognizes scent and their behavior changes. As the transistion is made they are following the footsteps and often time skipping some of the food drops. It helps dogs to learn tracking by starting in tall vegetation. The tracking conditions/learning conditions are quite poor this year. This year the rains have been late and sparse so the vegetation is quite low.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Agility Marathon

Every weekend the month of February had agility trials. After a month I am glad to take a break. Our last weekend was a good one, we earned another QQ. She is running fast and happy. Our trainer, Nancy Gyes, suggestion to play play play outside the ring with her, run into the ring at the last minute, then quickly get into position and release her has made Whisper run better. She is more focused and faster. The Jumpers run had a tricky weavepole entry. When the dog comes blasting out of the tunnel they are faced with the second weavepole and many dogs were NQ by entering incorrectly. Although our handling of the weaves was not graceful, we managed it and Qed.

The Standard run was fairly straight forward but I often can't get ahead in time to front cross and end up rear crossing. The tunnel to the jump is an excellent example, I meant to front cross before the jump but couldn't get there in time. One of the fun things about agility is thinking on your feet. No matter how many times you walk the course to plan your strategy, you have to be prepared to change tactics in a millisecond.