Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition: January 2012

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Wally Still Remembers, and Loves, Home

Went by the house today to take care of stuff and brought Wally along, figuring he'd enjoy the chance to sniff the old grass and stuff.

Boy did he ever. He immediately wanted to go sit on the porch that I've taught him to do so many times. And then I took him to the fields we ran on and practiced our ball catching and looooong distance recall and retrieving and he was just so intense. Charging at me like he loves to do when I call for a front from 90 feet away and just seeing how BIG his eyes were - like he just got done eating 50 raw steaks. He would literally jump up from the sit when I cued finish like we used to practice when doing this.

He was having so much fun and so excited. He remembered all his pee-mail spots and was checking out the grounds and re-marking his spots. So funny he remembered them all like we came there yesterday.

Was so great to see him cutting loose and giving me his full speed outside since there's OPEN GRASS to actually run around on. For a small dog, he needs a lot of space now because of all the walking and running he's done. He eats up ground almost like he's big and two strides and he's through the strips of grass around here.

It was amazing that he remembered all our tricks and stuff we did. Our route, where he sniffs and pees, that we usually stop at the mail box to get the mail. The go-arounds too. He remembered how he can go around the light posts. It's been months since we did it, and he called it up through all that excitement.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Object Discrimination 6 - Ball (Pelota) and Star (Estrella)

Getting back into the groove with object discrimination and it's a review process for now, assuming he still remembered anything from when we tried this last. Of course, I don't have all the old objects (though he still has the bone) - so that brings up a new object I bought for him, his fuzzy star-shaped toy.

He loves that toy, so that's always a plus. For the ball, I'm using one of the balls we were using to practice catching with.

I put the ball and star on the ground and said "pelota". Of course, he had no idea so I kept saying it, ready to give him a click and treat when he touched the ball. He eventually touched the ball and got the reward. I kept doing it, and he went consistently straight to the ball and we were getting into a rhythm.

Then I moved the ball and the star and tried it again. Didn't go so well. He went to the star again, but after not rewarding that, he looked around for something else to touch/grab. He didn't appear to see the ball, or perhaps he didn't think he was supposed to get it.

So I picked the star up and cued "pelota" again. He still was at something of a loss, but then eventually touched the ball for the reward. After repeating it with just the ball done a few times to get him going to the ball directly, I put the star back down. He looked at the star but went away from it to touch the ball. Good.

Did a few of those and then gave him a little break before introducing "estrella", the star. Having been going away from the star, it was harder to now get him to go TO the star. So I picked it up for a few seconds, then put the star down while saying "estrella". He went up to the star and that got him rewarded. I said "estrella" again and he went back to the star.

I didn't put the ball back in, but played a game of fetch with the star, but said "estrella" as he went after it and brought it back. I rewarded when he brought it back to me. Did that for about ten minutes then called it a session.

At least we got some progress going and maybe it will "re-activate" that info in his brain. Of course, if he forgot it all - well, we are still on the right foot...er...paw.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mom Gets In On The Action

My mom was making Wally do some of the stuff I had him do, and caught a video of her getting Wally to walk/hop on his back legs. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

PE For Wally 4: Balancing And Walking With a Ball

Alrighty then, back to training. This is what I'm talking about.

While still trying to get all the stuff we had or at least something similar, there is still that medicine ball - it survived. So might as well use it.

So that was the idea for this. I wanted him to put his front paws on the ball and walk. Of course, he looks at me like I'm some psycho alien dog. "How do you come up with this stuff to make me do?" kind of look.

But, all resistance is cast aside when a bread ball or a piece of ham enters the picture. Food is king in his world.

With that, I put the ball in front of him. Since I choose shaping first and foremost I wait to see what he'll do with it. Well, he remembers the times I had him pushing the ball and that's what he started doing. That nose kept hitting the ball, moving it around. When that didn't work, he put his paw on it. Oh, that's progress (pawgress?) so he got a click and treat. He did it again - okay, I'll give you one for that too. No, not the third time.

So, reluctantly, I went to a bit of luring. I held the food high over the ball. That was all the help he was getting, he had to figure out how to get it. If he tried to go around the ball, the food disappeared. After a few tries of that, he saw going around was not a winning strategy.

After a bit, he put one paw on the ball and tried to lean on it. The ball moved, and he backed up, but I gave him the food anyway for the effort (it's a step in the right direction). He tried the going around thing again, but then he put his front paw again. He did keep it on the ball and was leaning on it.

I waited and he finally put the other paw on the ball. That got him more food. Now we're getting somewhere. At this point, the lure went away. He knows he can make his body do it. So now it's time for him to...just do it.

After some thinking (he was like, "what's up with that?") he put his paws on the ball. That made the food appear, BUT not get it. He was like "now what?"

I didn't say anything, just held the food up there. If he got off the ball, the food disappeared. He learned quick not to do that - so he started whining. Like THAT would work. I just turned away with the food in the same spot, so he put an end to that. He then gathered up his nerve and reached up for the food by standing up. His back legs were standing and his front paws were on the ball. YES! I quickly all but threw the food in his mouth.

But now I want duration. I want him to walk after all. So once he figured out how to get the food, I held out a bit to delay the reward and get him used to standing in that pose. Then gave him the treat.

Next step was the walking. This was interesting. I moved the food further away. He looked at it like it was evil for moving. I left it at this distance and he looked at me. I just turned away again and left him to figure it out. He started moving the ball with his paws - that got rewarded. Now we're cooking. He kept it up and took a step with his back legs. Another reward.

Now that he did it twice - I moved the food farther away. He slipped off the ball - and the food went away. Tough. Get back on that ball and figure it out.

He popped back up on the ball (that part he's figured out already) and tried again. He took a step, but I want more steps. I moved the food to trigger that "get back here" mode in him and he took more steps. Shoved the reward in his mouth.

Now he had to do it with no lure at all. Instead, I used my hand as a target and called for "touch" on my hand. He had to walk with the ball to touch my hand. When he did, I got a reward out of my pocket. A couple of those, and then I called it a session. As usual, he was jumping up and down and acting like he conquered the world!

I don't know about the world, but at least you're a step closer to conquering walking with a ball. I will try to capture some photos of this or maybe even a *gasp* video (maybe - I'm an amateur dog trainer, not amateur video producer!)