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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kirby Bow

I sat down with Kirby last night with my clicker and bait bag. I didn't have a goal in mind, I just wanted to start dinking around and seeing what he would offer.

We started with a belly crawl. That was fun, but seemed uninteresting at the time. At one point his butt remained in the air briefly while he was on his way to a down and it sparked the 'bow' work. That and Laura's explaination of 'Be a Table Top' sounds like soooo much fun!

Kirby picked this up pretty quickly. I apologize for the camera angle. I'm not so much the videographer...

And sorry about the cat constantly walking across the screen. That Orange Dude just does what he wants.

I did begin adding the command here, but I don't know if I'm supposed to yet or not. This is not even close to solid yet, so maybe I need to wait longer?  *shrug*

Two things that I noticed that I need to work on:
*Not being so quick to pull the trigger- I notice that I click when his ass comes all the way down. Whoops.
*Sometimes my 'YES' marker word jumps in there along with the click. That might take some time to cure.

Share your thoughts!

ps~ If you ever hear me 'growling' at Kirby when I'm 'YESing' him (as in this video after the paw), it's because he likes it. It's weird and it's hard to explain. Kirby seems to react better to men and men's deeper, husky voices then he does to most female voices. This has been questioned both at disc comps and in agility class. He runs better for my male agility instructor, and he plays frisbee better with my non-frisbee playing hubby when they 'growl' at him. And I was told that the person who adopted Kirby from the rescue previously was a male. He likes being spoken to roughly. If you don't like or approve of my growling at my dog, don't watch his videos. Thank you and have a nice day.  :o)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Never Get Bored!

I am never going to get bored with this trick training!  It's simply not possible!  I've got 4 dogs and a cat at home, and there are different things to teach each one of them. Here's what they have been working on this week.

Kirby: "Fetching a beer from fridge'.
We began with having Kirby target a tug toy that is hanging from the fridge handle. I've also been asking him to pick up empty soda cans to get familiar with the material of the can. I do wonder how he will fit a full one though. Can coolie maybe?  Or bottles with the coolie on it?  Not sure, haven't gotten that far yet. I certainly don't want him getting hurt and will scrap the trick if the cans become a safety hazard.

Maggie: 'Clicker Comfort'.
I have no goals with Maggie yet except to get her comfortable with the clicker sound. She is offering downs and sits though!

Jake: 'Spins, Targeting & Belly Crawling'.
Jake is the most fun to work with, possibility-wise, but also the most frustrating. Frustrating because for one, he has one of those mammoth-vacuum-Labrador mouths, so every time I offer him a treat, he is inhaling with a super wide open mouth. So 75% of the time he misses the treat (it falls out of the gaping hole of course!) and the treat will roll under something and then his attention is lost until he finds the food. And for two, he's already got an arsenal of tricks that he knows so if I attempt to shape something, he's launching through the entire arsenal thinking that one of the tricks is going to get him what he wants.  Usually it looks like this; sit-laydown-play dead-launch into a couple of vertical jumps-sit pretty-left paw-right paw-left paw-sit-playdead-verticle jump, all the while whining and barking.
We've begun working on his treat taking. I'm holding the treats in my hand until he nicely nibbles them from my hand, which gets a click and another treat.  We also started trying the above 3 tricks!  He will spin counter clockwise with little luring, but he seems determined not to turn clockwise. He did it twice with some serious luring, but it has me thinking maybe it's uncomfortable him to do so.

Frankie: I haven't tried anything with her yet. But think I will use her to work more Frisbee tricks, like dog catch without a disc, hoop, etc. All can be done using a clicker.

Sylvester: 'Sit, Stand, Laydown'.
Syl seems to enjoy the clicker training!  Probably mostly because of the food involved. Syl is very greedy. He's got a nice sit, but I think it's a fluke. He won't sit on command unless he knows I have food. Fluke. I can lure a stand and a down, but haven't put any words to it yet.

I wonder if I should try clicker training Red...

Clicker Maggie

A couple of years ago, I dropped my clicker. Not literally, but figuratively. I absolutely love the click/treat method of training, but I hate dealing with the clicker itself. I'm not skilled in the multi-tasking department anyways, and trying to click on time, dealing with my bait bag and treats, keeping the leash under control, etc got to be a little much.  So I took the theory and I replaced my clicker with the word 'YES'.

The marker word works well in most situations for us. It keeps confusion to a minimum and the dogs know it. All of them have been introduced to a clicker and all of them except for Maggie have a good foundation in it's meaning.

Maggie has always been noise reactive. If you set your coffee mug down on the table too hard, she runs for cover. She doesn't appreciate cans opening or people suddenly farting near her. I've made attempts with Maggie on the clicker before, but quickly stopped after seeing the world of terror it sent her in to.

My recently renewed interest in trick training had me trying again. I didn't think to get the first couple-minute session recorded and I should have. It would have shown you what I meant. I first tried clicking and then tossing a very high value treat out for her. But she didn't see the treat because she was already hightailing it in another direction. I called her back and gave her a few treats to show her what I had, then began clicking as she was just taking the treat. She spooked a couple of times, but her Corgi stomach won out over the fear and she stayed with me. We called it quits on a good note and Red and I took her for a walk.

After the walk, we came back to it. I did record this one! You can see in the beginning she's kind of hiding behind the chair. She knows I have food and she wants it.
After I watched the playback, I can see I'm not clicking nearly as fast as I should be. About halfway through when I feel good about her association of clicker and food, I start waiting for her to offer something. On one hand it's a little heartbreaking to see her become stressed enough that she thinks about simply running away. But on the other hand, she's so cute and so determined to stay!  I'm incredibly proud of her for being so brave for me. You can see her actively making decisions throughout the process.

I wait for a couple of sits, then I begin waiting for the down. Check it out and critique what you think I should change or tell me what I'm doing right. Cuz I'm not always certain!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kookamunga Kitty Weed

Hey, the cat has to have some fun too!

Enter, the Kookamunga Kitty Weed. I mean catnip.

His reactions are varied. Sometimes he gets the zoomies, sometimes he rolls around on it and acts like an idiot, and sometimes he just eats it.

On this particular day, he choose to go the idiot route. 


Monday, August 20, 2012


I had the privilage of hanging out with Laura and Lance-A-Lot over the weekend at our disc dog club's Star Jam!  It was a fun night... until the sky turned blood red and the lightening started showing it's ugly head.

Laura is a gifted dog trainer, and Lance is a DOLL FACE who knows a gazillion tricks. This is where Laura will pipe up and say that it's not a gazillion. But I'm here to tell you that if it's not a gazillion, it's at least like a million. Or somewhere in that range.  He's so smart and he's got huge ears and everything he does is way too adorable.

Anyways, Andrew Han was visiting here in the land of ten thousand (15,000+) lakes and we got a front row seat to view some of Lance's tricks! It got me thinking and asking about how to train some of them.

Today, I recieved a list of awesome dog tricks to play with (thank you, Laura!) and I'm so excited to start working on some of them! Hopefully I won't be a total sandbagger and I'll remember to video some of the stuff. Or at least take photos?  But I'm making no promises.

Friday, August 3, 2012


It's already been nearly a month since I brought Frankie to a surgeon to have acl surgery, to then (thank you God!) find out that she didn't need it!  In that time I've completely changed the way my dogs do things. Everybody is on joint suppliments now. Jake already was, Maggie because she's a Corgi and she's that age where backs and limbs might start giving her grief. Frankie and Kirby are also on the stuff now. Both of them are under five years old, so I hadn't put them on it initially. It's for older dogs, I thought. But then the acl scare happened and with the Aussies being sport dogs, regardless of age, they are going to require it to keep them comfortable down the road.

I'm doing a lot more hands on stuff with them too these days. Massage, stretching, lots more 'grooming' time, I call it. Mostly its just me petting and hugging my dogs all the time. Lol!  But the Furminator is right there so why not brush more fur away.

But most importantly, for my piece of mind, I've been walking Frankie differently. Frankie's natural speed is usually a gallop of sorts. She doesn't do anything slowly or calmly. When she's galloping or loping or cantering, I can't gauge her gait very well. Everytime I'm outside with Frankie, I'm watching her movement like a hawk.

I might be the slightest bit paranoid.

I've always walked multiple dogs at a time. It made more sense, there are four of them and I can hold on to two leashes. But this also makes for more work, less focus and shorter leashes to keep from getting all tangled up.
Now, after I work with Frankie on disc dog stuff, we cool down with a walk by ourselves on a flexi. Frankie can go out ahead of me, I can watch her walk and most importantly, I can control her speed. I can watch for any hitches in her step, limping, favoring, weight distribution, anything that could tip me off about her comfort.

And then afterwards, she's just the right amount of tired that I can brush on her some more.
Last night's fur load.