Finally a video!

December 31, 2009

Summit chewed through my video camera cords, lap top charger, and cell phone charger a while ago (that is his only weakness when it comes to chewing ūüôā ) but we got a brand new camera for Christmas!! ¬†Here is a video of some training we did last night:

Summit is still a very perfect puppy with a such a great attitude and temperment, he is just so much fun to train – he even makes circle work fun ūüôā


It All Goes Back To…..

December 29, 2009

Bet you thought I was gonna say “foundation”…wrong! ¬†“relationship”…nope! ¬†“desire?”…closer. ¬†Wanna know what I believe is the biggest hole in most folks foundation training? ¬†REINFORCEMENT, there you have it, the answer to all your problems. ¬†The biggest most important component of a good foundation is establishing rewards your dog goes crazy for. ¬†Rewards that we trainers can fit in our pockets such as food and toys are the main tools we have as positive dog trainers. ¬†When you bring your new puppy home you will discover there are plenty of things they will value and find reinforcing but likely very few of them will be as easy to control as a game of tug or a morsel of food. ¬†It could be things in the environment, other dogs, people, places or events, our job as dog trainers is to build value for interactive rewards like tug of war and food rewards such as puppy kibble.

When you start to think about all the places that you can go wrong in agility training, all the dogs struggling whether it be with motivational issues, dogs shutting down, dogs who stress over failure, dogs with no start lines, contacts, wide turns, off courses, dogs who are just plain slow or dogs who are distracted while working.  If the tug toy in your pocket where that million dollar reward the only thing that would stand between you and greatness would be timing and criteria.  The trouble comes when we are not patient in building up those reinforcers before moving forward onto the actual agility training.

I would have to say this is the biggest thing I have learned this year with regards to dog training. ¬†To have Summit be able to walk into any environment and give me his 110% focus from 3 months old was not much to do with having a naturally focused puppy, it was the fact that he is so crazy about toys, tugging, fetching, playing, you name it. ¬†I will admit that he has this drive for toys the day I brought him home but we have played and tugged and played and tugged to the point where he would choose tug over just about anything. ¬†This lesson was then re-affirmed at the Greg Derrett seminar I attended last month. ¬†It seemed that when working Preston and Riot all my training issues lead back to the same place…not enough value for the reinforcement. ¬†Preston not driving off the start line fast enough when I am stationary, well I can’t tell you how many recalls I have done trying to build speed while standing stationary, not much has helped. ¬†All my shelties tug and I use it as a reward in agility but they are not CRAZY over the tug the way Summit is. ¬†If Preston was CRAZY about his tug reward he would have more of a reason to get to me quickly. ¬†Then there is Riot who finds chasing and watching the other dogs running far more reinforcing than anything I have to offer her, she still will suck to equipment easily and ignore handling cues because she is not too concerned whether she gets the reward at the end, the chase is enough for her.

If you build lots and lots of value for a toy you will have a good head start with your foundation training and on your way to a good agility dog. ¬†Of course just ask Summit about building value for food ūüôā We have been working on increasing the value for kibble as food rewards are important for certain behaviors. ¬†Summit has been learning to gobble up a handful of food as fast as he can to star a game of tug. ¬†When Summit is really high and excited such as while being restrained for a recall or in his crate just before being released to run with all the dog I take that as an oppertunity to build value for food. ¬†He now gets that the faster he eats the food reward the faster he gets whatever it is that he wants. ¬†I am pretty sure he would swallow a penny if I offered it to him now ūüôā

So our winter training project for all dogs has been and will be raising the value of tug and food, it is not enough that they just tug or just take food, its gotta be worth a million bucks!


December 27, 2009

Some recent shots of Summit

7 months

7 months

photo by Dulcie Knee

6 months

Photo by Dulcie Knee

6 months

6 months

December 1, 2009

Not sure where the time has gone but Summit is not over 6 months old!  We have been very busy doing lots of training, here is a quick update:

Socializing: ¬†Although Summit has shown no fears of new people, dogs or places we continue to try and go to new places a couple times a week. ¬†Whether it is a new park, new arena, pet store or parking lot we try to set 20 minutes aside and work lots of tugging mixed in with some loose leash walking and the odd recall if someone offers to hold. ¬†Summit has been doing lots of flying lately and since this will be a big part of his life I have made an effort to go to the airport early each time and play tug games, socialize and build value for his kennel in that environment. ¬†So far he doesn’t mind air travel one bit. ¬†Summit has had lots of opertunity to socialize with all sorts of dogs and puppies after class and at most seminars I have been at, he is great with the shelties now as long as there is room to run.

Agility Training: ¬†Although Summit and I are addicted to training our training plans have not changed much since I brought him home at 9 weeks. ¬†We are still working on tugging like a mad man everywhere we go with any distraction possible. ¬†PLaying lots of motivational games, recalls, bringing out as much craziness as possible. ¬†Every session we have he blasts out of the kennel and gives %110 speed, attitude, desire, you name it, he is so much fun to train. ¬†We are mostly still working on start line and control positions. ¬†Sit, stand and down with that crazy look in his eye. ¬†We have upped the distraction level to environmental distractions like te sheltie chasing a toy, ringside of an agility trial, children running and screaming, dogs tugging around him. ¬†We have not put the start line in front of an obsticle yet but it’s just about there. ¬†The other thing we have been working on is our flat work, he is a true herding dog and very since he learned to outrun me our flat work has been a major focus in our training. ¬†He is very good now and we have started proofing understanding by decelling and front crossing off toys. ¬†That is about all we have been focussing on for agility training, just perfecting the essentials before moving onto anything else.

Pet Training: ¬†A big portion of our training time is spent working on things like walking on a leash, being quite in the kennel, sharing toys and food with the other four dogs in the house, recalls, control positions at a distance, basically anything to make living with 5 dogs as easy as possible. ¬†Most nights Chase and Bounder get to help me train Summit to be quiet in the kennel, I work and play with the shelties and reward Summit with his kibble for not loosing his mind. ¬†This is a great oppertunity to work start lines after Summit’s eyes have been popping out and he is vibrating with excitement. ¬†Summit’s recall is good enough to run with other dogs and he is good about sitting and downing if I give the cue when he is out playing which is a very helpful skill to have. ¬†Our loose leash walking was going well until we went to california and forgot our gentle leader so we are back to basics for a bit then re-fading the head halter is at the top of our list.

So there you have it, nothing too fancy or exciting just focussing on making tugging with me the most reinforcing thing in his environment, start lines, flat work and everyday pet skills.

At 6 months Summit was 20″ and 34 lbs.