Thursday, August 26, 2010

Good Dogs

My dogs have the best eyes
Billy did a full height dog walk with the stop tonight!! WOOOO HOO! He is such a smarty pants and so confident! It only took 2 tries for him to put the racing over the dog walk together with the target behavior.  I was so impressed!  I've never trained a dog a dog walk before so maybe how quickly he picked it up was normal, but I doubt it.  He is so smart and SO confident! I'm having so much fun with him.  I think he is going to love agility.  Once he realizes that it's all about running fast (his favorite thing) I think we will be good to go.  He did really good with the full height aframe too, but without the end behavior.  We will add that next week!  The one thing that didn't go as well was the teeter.  We haven't done nearly as much with the teeter as we have the dog walk so he wasn't ready to try the real thing.  He did good with the bang game but when we tried the full teeter he was a little freaked out.  So a lot more work to do there.

I brought Goose with me to Billy's class and he hung out in a crate again.  He was a little whiney and barked a little bit but nothing too crazy.  Afterwards we stayed to watch flyball practice and I was so happy with the way Goose behaved with all the people and dogs he saw.  He seemed much more relaxed then usual and was happy and wiggly meeting both people and dogs.  It is definitely new environments combined with scary things that cause him to sometimes react.  He is usually a lot more comfortable in places that he's somewhat used to.  I've taken him a ton of places but he still hasn't generalized new people, dogs, and things to all environments.   Although last night while we were at Layla's house making a video I think there as a neighborhood twilight bark going on because so many dogs were barking and Billy and Layla were on edge and barking here and there.  Goose was definitely feeding off of  them and was doing some alarm barking himself.  

ANYWAY tonight he did great.  He also got to do some foundation flyball work chasing a ball and bringing it back for a tug.  He did pretty well.  He was a little bit fixated on the ball at times but it wasn't too hard to get him back into the tug.  This was all until he suddenly lost focus...and peed all over.  OOOPSIE! Not sure why I didn't think to take him out to pee before playing.  Silly me.  

Tuesday Goose had puppy agility.  The best part of the class is getting to play with the adorable black and white BC girlie who was born the day after him, afterwards.  They had so much fun! 
Goose loves the paw in the face
Still loving frisbee! 

Playing with one of his best friends Rook

Billy tested positive for Lymes last summer.  I treated him but was doing some research and realized he needs to be retested so we are going in tomorrow morning.   I really hope he tests negative.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Crossing over

I love positive dog training, but it is hard. After taking it personally for so long when my dogs didn't listen to me and having it ground into me that my dogs wouldn't respect me if I didn't make them do everything I asked, I struggle when I don't get the response I was looking or hoping for. The biggest mistake I make is asking for something when I'm not that sure if my dog will give me the response I want. Basically, testing their response at the wrong times. For example: Goose doesn't like getting into the car for some reason. He doesn't seem to mind being in the car, but for the longest time wouldn't get in on his own and would sort of avoid the car when Billy and I were getting into it. Recently he did start getting into the car on his own, so I starting to try to call him to the car instead of going to get him and putting him in the car. I wouldn't call with his actual recall 'here' but I use an informal come if you want to cue 'comere.' When Goose turns and goes the other way, I take it personally. It makes me mad and it takes a lot for me not to start yelling for him, which sometimes I even try for a second (never works). I need to NOT do this. If Goose doesn't come on 'comere' I need to realize it's nothing personal, he just is feeling unsure about the car right now and I should just go get him. Better yet, I should bring him out on a lead and just lead him to the car and in the mean time work on him learning to love getting in the car. That way we could avoid the whole issue all together. I don't know why I feel the need to do things like that. I also do this with cue's like 'leave it' and 'drop it'. Goose will have something he shouldn't and I will want to see if he will drop/leave it when I ask. When he doesn't I get mad and don't want to let him get away with not doing what I ask, even though I haven't worked on it nearly enough for him to respond with any random object. These feelings and reactions are like hardwired into me. I mean I have gotten much better about it but I still make these mistake way too often and don't respond the right way when I do make them. This leads me to my biggest mistake number 2. Management. I'm too lazy about managing Goose's environment. Which is why I have all these opportunities to "test" him, when I know he is not ready. I need to get better about that. Also, the more stressed I am the more likely I am to get mad at my dogs. All these things are tied together and I am realizing this as I type this. I would be less stressed if I was better about not getting into situations where my dogs don't respond and in turn would be mad less often.

I am feeling like a very poor trainer at the moment. I think because I have been one.

Sorry Gooey, I will try harder!

AND Billy wandered away yesterday. For the first time in over a year. I don't know if anyone knows Billy's background, but he has a LONG history of running away. When Billy was about a year old or so he learned that he could get through the electric fence if he ran through it FAST. After he learned this, he began running away and running FAST and in a straight line. He would be gone in literally five seconds. I didn't help that he is a genius and could open doors in our house and let himself out. It got out of control and that's when I took him to a training school that claimed they could help me solve the problem. After Billy and I went though the program, which included a week board and train, they offered me a job. The training school used all traditional methods, starting with just choke chains and NO positive reinforcement at all, not even praise for the correct response. After I had been there for a year we progressed to using more tools including, prong and remote collars. last summer after contuniing to struggle with Billy's bolting problem I started training him with a remote collar. I hated using it but felt it was my only choice for keeping Billy safe. The constant worry and stress when Billy would disappear was getting too much. The remote training all but culminated when I experienced something horrible (and Billy something more horrible.) I was given the advice of setting Billy up to run away on the path he always took, which was out the sliding glass door and through the side yard. I was told to set him up so I knew he would run, turn up the collar, call his name, and if he didn't respond (which I knew he wouldn't cause he never did in that instance) hold it down on continuous stim until he stopped running. Everything went exactly as planned. I went upstairs to watch from a window and I had my Mom "forget" to close the door. Sure enough there went Billy. I called "BILLY!" and when he continued running I pressed down the button. Billy started screaming like I had never heard before, but kept running. Frantically, I turned the collar all the way up. Billy continued screaming and also continued running, running, running, and was gone. It was a truly awful moment, and thinking about it makes me sick. Not only had I scared the hell out of my dog and caused him extreme pain, he was also now missing. As I was driving around calling for him, I was seriously doubting this training. What was I doing to my dog???? Ironically, around the same time as we started using remote collars at my work, I discovered clicker training. My friend (and then co-worker) and I started researching positive reinforcement and realizing that there WAS another way. A humane and fun way of training. After a summer of research I made the switch. I don't know if it was the remote training that pushed me other the edge or if I would have found this training either way, but I am so thankful that I did.

Anyway, the point of this whole story is after I trained Billy with the remote collar I went back to school and he got to come for the first time (my senior year of college). I stopped using positive punishment (as best as I could and it is HARD when it's such a habit), and began retraining Billy. I retrained his recall and watched as he began to actually enjoy being with me. He was now actually able to choose to be with me, rather than being forced. So, back the the point... after that transition, Billy stopped running away. I never knew if it was due to the remote training, the positive training, or a combination of both, but he stopped bolting. I slowly gave him more and more freedom and really began to trust him off leash around my house. He would always choose to come back inside after being let out. I'd even let him wander into the woods for a minute and he would always come back. That is until yesterday. We had family over for my sisters birthday, and my uncle brought their new rescue puppy to learn some manners from Billy and my parents dogs, I was distracted by giving him advice and watching the pup with my parents dogs and Billy slipped off. At first I thought nothing of it. I figured he was going into the wood for a minute to do his business and would be back. After a few minutes someone asked where Billy was, I looked around and my heart sank. Where was Billy? I started calling him and he was not coming. I knew he was gone. I couldn't believe it. It had been over a year since this had happened. Although wandering off is not the same as making a wild break for it, it was still very disheartening. I got in my car and starting driving around calling for him. It didn't take long for me to find him, trotting along the road (thank god we live in a pretty rural area). It's going to take a long time before I can trust him again. I realize it was my fault and I should have never taken my eye off him. If I had kept him partially engaged, even with a name call here and there, I know he would have stuck around. I'm guessing he was sniffing around and saw an animal and it was just the call of the wild. Billy is half Husky and almost everything I have read about Huskies says they can never be trusted off leash, I think even if Billy is 99% trustworthy there will always be a risk of things like this happening. He just loves to run and explore than anything else in the world.

He has been such a challenge and I am proud of how far he has come. (especially after having a vet recommend we put him down when he was a puppy) I have learned so much from him and am grateful for all the challenges he has given me even though the stress probably will cut a few years off my life. Being able to share my life with a dog like him makes it all worth it in the end.

truly my heart dog

Doing what he does best!

Friday, August 20, 2010

No puppy love

Billy and Goose still haven't played together:( I don't understand why they can't be friends. I am dog sitting this week and the family has a puppy a little older than Goose but right now he and Billy are wildly playing! It only took him four days to warm up to this guy. I have had Goose for over 2 months now and still no playing! I've sort of figured out the problem I think... Goose is pretty sound sensitive and especially other dogs barking and Billy often initiates play with barking (and other body postures) but I think it overwhelms Goose and he just rolls over onto his back. On the other hand when Goose initiates play Billy just won't be in the mood. I think the time is coming soon though!! They have has a few seconds here and there so that makes me hopeful.

We had our first agility private yesterday! It was so much fun! and I was so confused by handing haha. Hopefully it will become more natural to me soon! I'm also bad at aerobics and dancing and other sort of things where you have to be aware of what your arms and legs are doing. I am athletic but things like that I just can't do! Maybe I'm just over thinking it all. The doggies did good though! Both boys did their first tunnels and had no problems with them at all. Billy also did a few jumps to a tunnel and and tunnel to jumps. The instructor let me practice handling with her dog and it was so fun!!! I can't wait until my dogs are that good:) Hopefully they will be one day.

Goose has 4.5 big boy teethies:) he has now lost 6 teeth altogether!! WOOO growing up!! I can't wait to see how handsome he is when he's full grown. He is in quite an awkward stage now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Flying Pit Bulls and Candadian Dogs

The doggies and I had an awesome trip to Canada last week. We have a cabin on a lake in Ontario that we visit every summer and it is doggy heaven. I was really excited to see if Goose would jump off the dock and swim. The first day we were there he was all about it, but the second day he was not so much. I think all the diving overwhelmed him. His technique at jumping off the dock for a toy is pretty bad. He usually doesn't want to jump unless the stick or toy is so close to the dock that he can grab it as he lands. This results in his head being submerged under the water, which scares him, yet he still does it. He hasn't quite realized that there are other more enjoyable ways of doing it. It was so funny because after the first day any time I got a toy he would get really excited and run to the area that he was jumping from and then when I'd throw it he'd just go to the edge and stare at it. A few times I picked him up and placed him in the water, which I think he actually liked. If he didn't I don't think he would stand at the edge and allow me to do it. Plus he got to get the toy with out going under or choking on water. Win-Win! Billy had a blast as always jumping into the water. He likes to chase balls and toys but LOVES to chase sticks. Especially BIG sticks. The bigger the stick the more excited he gets about going after it. The dogs really have a blast there. I even got to take Billy on a run off leash through a trail, which was the first time we have done that. After running with him off leash though, it makes running with him on leash seem just cruel. He had so much fun and actually got to go at a comfortable pace for his Husky self and not at my super slow pace. He also recalled nicely for the reward of being able to continue exploring so that was also really good. Goose was too little to come for a big boy run so he took a nappy during that time.

I got to work on some stuff with the dogs while I was there too. Billy is learning to paint and I have been working a lot on Gooses heel. I used a pedestal to teach Goose a contact heel. I believe its Siliva Trkman's method or at least that's where I saw it on youtube as someone who attended her class made a video of using it to teach her own puppy. Goose finds heel position on the left and right so well now. He is getting better at adjusting his position when I move as well. The biggest issue is that he's trying to make contact with my leg with his bum more than his shoulder, since that he where he had been bumping me on the pedestal. I've just been rewarding the shoulder contact a ton and hes really getting it. Its so cute and fun to train! Billy picked up targeting with something in his mouth really quickly. We started with him holding a pen and targeting my hand then I shaped a nose touch to a board then a nose touch to the board with a pen in his mouth. Finally, I added the paint brush and he can now target the board while holding the paint brush. We are working on him not letting go of the paint brush until I mark as he is dropping it the moment it touches. I never thought I'd be able to do this trick with Billy because I really never thought I'd be able to teach him to hold things but we finally got a hold and so many other tricks have come from it.

So the latest fiasco was the flying Pit Bull at the vet today. Goose was going in for his last round of shots and Billy has been chewing on his backend so I took them both. I brought them in separately as the last time they were at the vet together was a disaster. So I left the car on with Billy inside and took Goose in to get his shots. He barked on the way in and in the lobby so I'm thinking he remembers the last time when he and Billy had a bark fest or else he was just having a nervous day and there was a dog barking at him from behind a door. After that he was fine though and walking out he was fine too. I'm still trying to figure out what types of things make him nervous. Anyway, the appointment was really quick and I ran out so that I could trade Goose and Billy really quick. I put Goose in the car and grabbed Billy and literally the second the door shut a black dog came flying at us from an open window of a truck. The dog went toward Billy and I'm not sure what exactly her intent was because I grabbed her before she could really get to him. I had the dog which was a black female Pit in one hand and a growling Billy in the other. Luckily her owner got out quickly and ran over and took her from me. He apologized profusely saying that that has never happened before. I asked him if she was dog aggressive and he game me a sideways answer that made me think that she was. Plus the fact that she flung herself out of a moving car to get to Billy completely ignoring me and the noises she was making at the same dog that was barking at Goose were just wild. I'm so thankful that it didn't happen two seconds earlier or it could have been Goose she went after. He is much less intimidating looking than Billy and since he is already a bit worried about other dogs, one flying out of a window after him would not have helped.

Goose had agility class tonight and it went so well. No one was there for some reason so I basically had a private class. Goose did great on get outs and recalling past food. I learned a lot about handling which is what I really want to learn at this point. I need to know what I'm doing so that I don't end up having to train them all over again in the future. Plus, there's only so much you can do when you don't know what your doing.

Goose Dock "diving"
Go Billy GO!

Head first!
In heaven

Go Gooey Go!
We put a life jacket on Goose for a canoe ride. He didn't seem to mind.
Best Skies here!
Another cool sky!
Boatin' Dogs
Boatin' Bill

He's so cute! and somewhat growing into his body
Licking the boat
And howling!

Billy loves the one ear up one ear down look. Does that mean anything?
Sailor puppy!