Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A good day for Knightley, something new!

Knightley, all happy again. Very happy to see it. Love that doggy grin. He'd
just been doing door closing practice, very successfully I might add, and was
very pleased with himself!
5 months 2 weeks 2 days old

So I think the pup is back to his normal dynamic self. He has his frustrated bark back, he is slightly less food obsessed, and is very quick in the grey matter upstairs - which is nice to see.

We did all sorts of training throughout the day, and he was totally In The Game.

His cupboard door closing skills are GREAT now! Two days ago, when he started recovering, we started working on him closing other cupboard doors, and he was fine closing other doors that opened in the same direction that the door I taught him on. Any doors that opened in the opposite direction he just barked in frustration. So I just him to paw my hand whilst standing next to the open cupboard door I wanted him to close, then my leg (good dog! that's it! rake my leg with those nails! excellent! do it again!!) in order to get him pawing a vertical surface right next to where I wanted him to target a slightly different vertical surface, then my hand again, and again, and again..... as I slowly moved my hand closer to the door. Then I had my hand resting on the cupboard door whilst he was pawing it, of course I was click/treating every time he was doing this right. Then the next time he pawed my hand, I pushed the cupboard door closed with the back of my palm and made a HUGE fuss of Knightley with a jackpot of treats and lots of praise. That was all it took. I risked a 'paw' cue without my hand there, and SLAM, the door closed first time. We then went around the kitchen and he closed every door... although one of the cupboard doors is significantly bigger than all the rest, and it took a bit of extra training to get him through his frustration of being unable to close it easily.

My husband was talking about listening to our late night training sessions whilst he is getting ready for bed... and said they sound like "twitter twitter twitter" at the beginning, which is me talking.... then "bark bark" then "bang! click! bang! click! bang! click! twitter twitter twitter! bang! click! bang! click! twitter! bark! bark! bang! click! TWITTER TWITTER!!!!". So that's a cupboard door closing session for me and Knightley heard from half a house away! I found it amusing at least, if somewhat insulting to have my voice described as a twitter.

A 'come' cue in action, doggy on a mission.
Just a bit dream like I thought. The best I
could do whilst actually training without
setting up my tripod and waiting until
We did a HEAP of recalls (come) during the day, often calling him away from things he didn't want to leave, which was great practice. Still need a lot more practice of course, but it was a good start to my come focus from now on.

We also started something completely NEW! I've always been interested in the idea of doing a little nose work with him. Nose work is basically a new dog sport based around scenting games. It has brought the ideas behind drug, quarantine and bomb detection to the average dog owner interested in training their dog to use their nose on command. So we started a few scenting games, mostly just relying upon his sight on this early stage, only a tiny bit on scent. The idea is trying to get the idea in his head that I have hidden something for him and he needs to use his nose to find it - something we haven't done before. We'll do more of it later.

The website I was getting my inspiration from (although I did modify their directions when I saw fit) told you to put a cue/command to the searching behaviour immediately, and I tell you what, Knightley understood that part right away! lol ... Firstly you just throw some treats on the floor and tell him "find it!" and repeat that step several times.... and then have him avert his eyes while you do it and again you say "find it!", repeat step.... and then you start putting the treats in funny spots and avert his eyes and tell him "find it!" and so on until you have treats wrapped up in clothing, under magazines, in boxes and so on. At that stage I would probably teach an alert 'I've found it!' behaviour and plug it into the sequence to make a behaviour chain. Every time I said 'find it' Knightley absolutely raced off to find the treats he knew were somewhere to be found. He really enjoyed that part, it was great to see. Intensive nose work is very tiring to a dog, owners report after 20 minutes of structured scenting they are often as tired out as they would be from an hour long walk. It is a good idea to give your dog mental stimulation like this, physical is great of course, but both keeps your dog balanced and not bored! Which in turn leads to a satisfied dog who is less likely to indulge in problem behaviours.

Knightley following a 'relax' cue. He is pretty good with this
one, will follow it promptly, but gets bored on his side
easily. He is happier to stay in a down where he can see what
is going on, than a relax where he can't see a thing. I am going
to focus on really making him sleepy every time I get him into
a relax, with music, massage, and shaping.
We also did more of our normal training today. We focused a lot on Relax, as I would like that one on cue for when I start taking him out more to cafes and anywhere that allows dogs. I can't believe he isn't much off 6 months! His relax is pretty good, he does fully relax, we just need to work on duration now. I plan to use Through A Dogs Ear, a CD of classical music arranged in order to calm and relax dogs, and in the past has worked on Knightley. So whenever we do a relax session, I'll put that on. I'll also do a little doggy massage when Knightley is in his relax position. I would really love the DVD and books for the TTouch method by Linda Tellington Jones, but until then I massage Knightley as best I know how - down his sides in circles, his ears, the sides of his muzzle which can carry a lot of tension. I am not talking about stroking either.... I am talking about a deliberate more clinical touch. Knightley definitely enjoys it, and when I get it right, he almost drops off to sleep then and there.

In addition to the music and massage, I will also quietly say 'yes' and give him treats when his eyes blink/droop, when he yawns, when his breathing slows, when he does that big sudden dog sigh release of tension we all love..... and so on. Shaping can be very effective at deepening the relaxation of a dog, and thereby increasing the likelihood of duration. I will also train duration the normal way, first clicking and treating after 10 seconds of relax (about where we are up to), then 11, 12, 13 and so on. If he breaks, I go back to 10 because he is very solid at 10 at the moment. If he breaks at 10! Well, I can go back to 1 second if I have to. When I start getting up to 30 seconds, I can try increasing by 2 seconds at a time. When increasing from 1 minute, I could increase by 5 seconds at a time. So that will be my multi-pronged approach on relax.

There is so much material in Level 2 of the Training Levels, it is almost wearying to make sure we pass it all before moving on!

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