Archive for November, 2014

Cedar’s Training 17th Week

November 26, 2014

I’m afraid that some of the directional training I’ve put directly on Facebook (Cedar has her own page: .) Consequently you can’t step back through my blog and put the pieces together nicely. I’ve resolved to make sure I publish each in the blog.

Here is a recording of Cedar’s “Right” directional training with only about 10 days of work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMJg5SUVq80

I’m well pleased with her willingness to work and learn. The Right command developed nicely into a full turn on nothing but a verbal command (little or no physical help or support).

Shortly after making the recording above, I introduced Cedar to a “Left” directional.  Of course this made her brain explode because she’d pretty much decided that offering a Right turn was the magic. She might as well get used to the idea that there’ll be a lot of new magic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akPPBuqqxxs

It feels a bit like I’ve skipped over the intro. Even in this recording Cedar has already figured out that if she just turns her head slightly to the left she’ll get my praise and a tasty treat reward. Making the intro requires a bit of patience. I believe in free-shaping. That means little more than waiting for a dog to offer a performance or behavior that I want to build on. So, after giving the “Left” command (in the intro)… I just wait for her to serendipitously look to the left. And when she does, I’ll praise and reward. After a bit she’ll be able to focus on what thing she has to do to earn the reward. It’s really quite as simple as that.

The next step will be to get her to make a full turn when I give a “Left” command. Initially I may lure at this step to enhance the performance that she’s already offering. Then gradually I will minimize and make smaller the physical cues until there is nothing left but the verbal.

Next week, hopefully, I’ll publish an update on the Left directional training.

Growing like a Shetland Weed

I had to take the week 17 measurement a couple days early. I’m going to be judging a USDAA trial in Milwaukee this weekend and I’ll be on the road on her official measuring day.

NobelWeek17

At any rate, I’m impressed that Cedar is growing like a Sheltie, the breed that the Nobel was intended to chart. Our measurements fit neatly on the top of the curve. So if her growth remains true, she should come in right at about 16″, which is top of the standard for a Shetland Sheepdog.

In case you missed the story, Cedar’s dam is a feral sheltie. A dog rescue angel over in West Virginia manages to scoop up the dam’s occasional litters, though the dog herself has managed to escape capture. We have no idea what is the sire. I’m thinking it must be something like a Rat Terrier. She does have a hard-headed “what’s in it for me” kind of mind-set, which is consistent with the nature of a terrier.

Cedar is now 4 months old, and weighs roughly 10 pounds.

Blog957

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Training with Games

November 26, 2014

It’s a relatively simple matter to cleverly disguise training objectives within the context of a simple agility game. Playing a “game” has certain benefits for the agility instructor. The game can be used to measure skills and analytical abilities for each student. And, of course, by putting a stopwatch on the dog and scoring his performance puts the special pressure competition on the handler.

Below I’ve adapted a very old agility game called “Power and Speed” to work on very specific training objectives. In case it’s not obvious, we’re working on a nice stable finish on the dogwalk in the Power section and pose a nice handling riddle to test analytical skills in the Speed section.

Power and Speed

BLOG956

Briefing

Each handler and dog runs a course that is split into two sections: Power and Speed.

Power – The Power section is occupied only by the dogwalk on this course. It is performed back-to-back-to-back.

The Power section is un-timed. Consequently the start-line is positioned between the last obstacle of the Power section and the first obstacle of the Speed section.

Any faults earned by the dog will be added to the dog’s score. For example, if the dog misses a contact or earns a refusal on a contact obstacle, his score would be 5 for the Power section. Obviously, the ideal score for the Power section is 0.

Speed – The Speed section contains a straightforward Jumpers sequence. The goal is for the dog to run the course as fast as possible, preferably with no faults.

Scoring

Scoring for Power and Speed is Time, Plus Faults: faults from the Power section plus time from the Speed section plus faults from the Speed section. The dog with the lowest score wins.

Catching Up

Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve written to my blog. You’ll have to forgive me for finding priorities that are higher. It’s kind of a perfect storm of circumstances. I have of chores and work to do; and I don’t have the stamina I used to have for working all day. There was a time I could work a full-day… then flip a switch, and work well into the evening. I just don’t have that switch working much anymore.

I have to ramp up for our month of Top Dog. And so I’m going to do a training series that features a new game or course each week.

Blog956

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.

Cedar Shakes the Woof!

November 7, 2014

This week we’ve introduced Cedar to the pipe tunnel. It’s kind of fun to have 16″ diameter teacup tunnels. They’re lightweight and so very portable. They are also of an appropriate size for a young puppy!

Here’s a video of the introduction:

http://youtu.be/dIOeyyb2MN8

We used the same methodology that we might use in mixed group classes. One person manages the dog’s leash, while the other makes the presentation of the tunnel… and goes to the other side calling the dog in excited fashion (maybe even making contact through the foreshortened tunnel!)

The leash manager will see to it that if the dog tries to go right or left around the entry to the tunnel, she’ll come to the end of her leash. If she volunteers to go through the tunnel, then the leash will slip through the trainer’s hand, rewarding the dog for her choice.

Over time, you add length to the tunnel, and gradually bend it, to the extent that the dog cannot see the exit from the entry.

This is a simple methodology and subscribes to a training philosophy that as much as possible the dog should choose every footstep. We don’t push or pull the dog through any performance.

By the third day, Cedar has a pretty impressive command of the pipe tunnel:

http://youtu.be/mFgm2iKRcwg

If there is a down-side to this introduction to the tunnel it is that the handler is considerably embedded in the context of the presentation. So our next step is to emphasize the verb or command for the performance of the tunnel, and begin working at greater and greater distance so that she has to go away to offer the performance without her handler hovering over, or flapping arms.

A Growing Dog

We’ve been carefully tracking Cedar’s growth on the Nobel Growth Chart:

NobelWeek14

Cedar appears to be following the growth pattern of a Sheltie and should come in very neatly just under 16″. Whether she remains true to the predictable growth pattern of a Shetland Sheepdog remains to be seen. We don’t know what kind of beast was her sire, after all.

At 7 weeks Cedar weighed 3-1/3 lbs. She was weighed yesterday at the vet’s office at 10 lbs. Clearly, she’s getting enough to eat.

Cedar’s FB page.

Blog955

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. The web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.