Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Disorganized Organization

I am the queen of plan making. But when it comes to accomplishing those plans I seem to be somewhere in the league of wicked step-sister.

But really, I can make a beautiful, detailed, well thought out plan. And I do, make many many plans. This is true of the four legged lessons too. But, alas, the plans so often fall by the wayside in the face of so many interruptions. So I thought I would try to put together a few tips for organizing regular dog training.


Recently on the Training Levels Yahoo Group (a wealth of info everyone should tap into) there has been some discussion of journaling about Levels Training. There is a great on-line tracker specifically designed for this by someone is not only skilled at making plans, but very skilled at accomplishing them. (Unlike certain other two legged people(me) who shall remain nameless.) I fall into the category of making my journaling way too detailed so that it always gets left undone. So application of tip #1: I am going to pull up their journals and see where we are at.


I tend to be the all or nothing thinker, and try not to let that apply to working the pups. But, ahhh. . . .the fallacy of beautiful, complicated detailed plans: if I can't do the whole plan perfect its not to encouraging to even try. Here enters another thought from the wisdom of the Training Levels group members: even 30 seconds of work with their dinner is "daily work". Which is something both girls do nearly every day, so two wags for us! Another not-original-from-me (unfortunately) thought was to train a different behavior on each commercial break. Not sure that works for us as if its not on the DVR I don't watch it. But the principle is sound. 2-3 minutes of work on a particular behavior w/ a longer break in between and each session is a new behavior. Application of tip #2:start the laundry. . .do a short session. etc. . . etc. . .etc. . .

Real life work and lessons get done every day, all day in our house, but it is the regular, more structured sessions that I have been neglecting the past bit so hopefully this will help us get back on track. And now in the spirit of applying these useful organization tips I'm going to go start the laundry and work a go to mat session and then I am going to track it, so if you're interested in how we did hop over to Maizey's journal and check it out!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sometimes Old Toys Are The Most Motivating Toys

Since the middle of March we have been working on building Maizey's toy drive. (A bit of the hodgepodge we are working on)

Having appropriate rewards as reinforcement is vital in clicker training. The right reward, and a variety of the right rewards will really motivate your pup to work harder and offer more behaviors. Humans are the same as our four legged friends in this manner, the higher the paycheck the more motivated we are to work. While food is usually the easiest thing to use toys are a very important part of this. Because of Maizey's knee's we couldn't play tug, so I really neglected encouraging her toy drive. But with a couple of weeks of playing the games mentioned in the "Hodgepodge" post problem solved!

She is now enthusiastic and excited to work for her tug goody.

At first she was a little confused to not work for treats. She offered me less behaviors at first and would do as I asked and then run to the kitchen and look at the counter w/ her eager, "where's my goody?" look. 

"Comeon mom I did good lets go getta goody"
"Where is it? Where's my goody?"

But that was a learning experience for me too, because it showed me she was learning to work at a distance from the treats, but also I need to vary where we go to get her treat. Quickly though she got the idea that the tug game was her "goody". It has been a lot of fun to watch this develop. 

One of the recommendations is to have a toy you use only for rewards so I dug in the toy box and pulled out one of her oldest and most revered tug toys. Made by the famous Zoe and Dare's mom for my pups years ago it's still going strong, although now missing the tennis ball (thanks Maizey:)) and one of its strings, it remains her favorite tug.

"Yeah I know this tug is twice my length and girth! I killed it and its goin' with me!"

"I'm gonna get it!"
 "I GOT IT!"
"And I'm not letting go!"

Friday, March 26, 2010

The End Of An Era

warning: this post does not contain useful information about dog training. Unless you count the down-stay Maizey did on the hood of the Jeep. Hmmm. . .that may be stretching a bit though.LOL

I try to avoid clichés, and "they says" and I realize this is both, I apologize in advance. But, 'they say' "All good things must come to an end." I suppose that is true tonight.

Once upon a time in a land not so distant from here, in my younger and more adventurous days I bought a Jeep Wrangler. It had all of  7 miles on the odometer when I drove it off the lot. Then I met mehusbandy and were were married. Not long after the big event he undertook to build my "Little Jeep" into a rock crawling machine. Needless to say I was overjoyed. For many years growing the jeep was our hobby, it got bigger tires, stronger axles, better gears, more even bigger tires, lift kits, short shaft kits, K&N filters, Borla exhaust manifold with catback exhaust. . .ahh but I could go on and on and this is a dog training blog not a rock crawling one. And as we grew the Little Jeep we climbed bigger rocks, and harder trails and generally "a good time was had by all." (sorry another cliché-two in one story what is the matter w/ me?)

Sadly we must sell the Not-So-Little-Jeep. Thus as  this is the is the end the "Little Jeep" era of our lives tonight the Jeep officially went up for sale. In case any of you dog-folk out there reading are also Jeep-folk like us and would like to see the add we posted feel free to message me and I'll send you the link.

So in memoriam here are a couple of shots of the fun we had.

I guess I will just have to continue on in the 4 legged lessons era of my life, and in the spirit of that I promise next time to have some actual training information for you!LOL

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mugged By A Herd Of Small Children

We went for a walk this evening. In 25 minutes we made it four houses away.

Not an auspicious start to our "walk X number of miles in 30 days plan." It's X number of miles because I haven't got that far in the plan yet to decide how many miles we'll Apparently our walking log will look like: Day 1: 400'

Oh well, it was all for a good 4 legged lesson.

So what happened four houses down? We were mugged by herd of children! No, don't be alarmed no one was injured or too permanently traumatized, they were a very nice herd of children. It started with two, then another little girl came out with her mom. That was interesting because the mom says to me, "Can she pet your dog with out getting her face chewed off?" By that point the first two kids were giving the girls treats and pets so I 'm thinking, "I hope so or these two little kids are in some serious trouble!"

Slowly three more little kids trickled out and joined the party. So here is me, Meeka, Maizey and FIVE kids all kneeling down on the side walk. Did I mention I don't have any kids? Yeah, me:no kids. I find when I'm by myself kids really aren't interested in me, apparently I'm pretty boring. But me and my girls? Now that's quality kid entertainment!

It went like this: us walking, Meeka perfect loose leash, Maizey on her new harness being a maniac because we are walking toward a scruffy black dog in a fence. Here comes two little kids, running, of course! I see them, I stop, put Meeka in a sit-stay and the kids of course run right up into the girls space, waving their hands and shouting, "Can we pet your dogs? Can we pet your dogs?"

Now here's is where it get's interesting. Maizey is still boinging  around and shouting at the scruffy black dog, the scruffy black dog is boinging around and shouting back, the kids are boinging around and shouting at me, Meeka is sitting, but wiggling, a lot. Cute girl.

I answer the kids, "You can pet them, but you all have to be nice." I don't think they realized I meant them and the So I told them to ball up their fists, hold them out and put them under the girls noses, then they could pet under their chins. I had to keep reminding Meeka to sit, but she would. Meanwhile. . . Maizey continues her crazy act.(sigh)

So I told the kids to back up two big steps, think "Mother-May-I-" in reverse. It worked! The kids backed up and then I told them to stand still (is that a stand-stay for kids?) and I backed up until Maizey was under threshold and could sit and do a glance "watch". Then I told the kids to come forward very slowly. I kept cuing the girls to sit and marking it w/ a yes/treat. Soon enough the kids were giving the girls the treats and, thank goodness, everyone was a LOT calmer.

By this time the other kids had trickled in so I asked every one to squat down and we played a crazy game of "hand zen". Picture the girls in a sit, and 5 little hands held out palm up just out reach above their heads. I place one treat in each little palm and tell them to immediately close their hand. Then I had them sit still with hands closed and when the girls sat and were calm, not nosing towards the treats, one of the little kids would open their hand and the girls could take the treat. If things started getting too wild (of course they were wild! Five kids, two dogs and a me is not a recipe for calm!lol) but if they started getting too wild I just told every one to close their hand and cued a "leave it" to my girls. They did so good! And they had a blast.

Then the kids wanted to see some tricks so I put Maizey on a sit in the grass and showed them Meeka's wave, and hand shake. That really got them going because then they all wanted to "shake her hand." So I told them to all get in a single-file line and one at a time they came up and put out their hand for a Meeka hand shake and gave her a treat. It was adorable. Meanwhile I was able to keep working Maizey on being calm and maintaining her sit-stay. The kids kept saying, "Can Maizey do tricks?" Little did they know she was learning the hardest trick of all-self control!

All in all we didn't get our walk, but their truly was too many great 4 legged lessons to list. For the pups and kids!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Airplanes Beware! This Rotti's Gonna Getcha!

So we deal quite a lot w/ the prejudice that is so often directed towards Rotti's. I admit it often hurts my feelings for my big girl when someone crosses the street to avoid her. (Yes I know I'm quite silly since it doesn't hurt her feelings.) The cynic in me wants to shout, "You don't have to toss yourself into traffic! She's not going to go crazy and chew your leg off!!" I never have, but you never know. . .lol

It is particularly funny to me since there is only one thing she is protective of, in a sense anyway. She is the best guard dog when it comes to chasing off airplanes. Yes, airplanes, and not low flying little planes but the big time jets that we can barely see. It is very funny to see her placidly laying in the front yard scanning, not the street, not the crazy dogs next door, not the kids on their bikes, but always the sky! Then she will explode barking, jump up and race around the back yard, and to the back of the house as she faithfully chases those vicious, dangerous airplanes out of her space. She is very diligent about it's and a good thing cause what if those crazy jets just decided to stay in her space?  I truly fear for the life of the airplanes!

The first time this quirk manifested itself we were in the car traveling across Nevada, we thought she was a asleep in the back seat when she explodes barking her "big dog" bark. I hollered and mehusbandy just about swerved off the road we were so surprised! Then what do I see when I whirl around? 80 pounds of Rottweiler trying to climb out the back window of our car to get to the jet way high up in the sky. Oh funny funny girl!

So, the four legged lesson? Beware of airplanes they are dangerous and unpredictable creatures!

"don't worry mom I'm on the lookout"

"Oh-Oh I see the enemy!"

"I'll get it! I'll get it!"

"YUM! Now that was a good airplane!"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lumpers V. Splitters

In clicker training, particularly in shaping there is a concept called "lumping" and "splitting". I think most humans by habit are lumpers. I know I am.

Lumping is a term in clicker training that refers too asking for a complete finished behavior before your dog knows how to do that behavior.

So it goes like this: we want to teach a dog to lay down. We tell the dog, very earnestly and lovingly, "Down!" Pup looks at us and is thinking, "I know you want me to do something Mom, but what is it?" While they are thinking they stand there patiently waiting for more information, for a better explanation. Which to us looks "stubborn" when really we just haven't given enough explanation.

Meanwhile as they stand there thinking, we as humans stand there thinking impatiently, "Why won't this dog lay down? I have told her 25 times and she won't lay down!" Come on admit it, we've all been

Enter the beauty of splitting. Splitting is exactly what it sounds like. You picture the finished behavior and split it into many smaller behaviors. And with the right timing of the clicker you are able to reward any behavior in the right direction to the finished behavior you want. This is a wonderfully fun way to teach something because, really, who doesn't like to get paid for being successful? We all do, and so do our dogs.

As an example in L2 Tricks it states: Dog performs a trick of the partners choice. It may be very simple. L3 Tricks is much the same, but it has to be a shaped trick. So I chose to start shaping Maizey to ring a bell that sits on the floor.

Now think of this in lumping. I imagine it would go something like this, "Maizey here's a bell ring it!" At which point she looks at me as if I'm nuts and offers me 5 things she already knows all of which have nothing to do with ringing the bell.

But picture this w/ splitting, there are plethora of behaviors she can offer me that are in the right direction of actually ringing the bell. She looks at this strange shiny thing, click/treat!(c/t) she walks closer to it one step c/t! Two steps c/t! Sniffs it c/t! nudges it w/ her nose (can you hear me cheering?) c/t! and so on until she accidentally hits the little button and "DING!" c/t! and a huge cheer from me! She is excited and I am excited, I mean just look at all the things she did right! Do I care that the actual ringing of the bell was an accident? NOT AT ALL! It gave me the chance to reinforce the final behavior I want and then in the next session I can just go back to splitting. Gradually you can ask for more behaviors in the right direction before you c/t. But in the beginning if is important to have a high rate of reinforcement to encourage the dog to keep offering behaviors.

Here are two video's that show her third session.

You can notice in this clip we end on a successful "ding" of the bell.

Obviously I'm not a pro at this (yet;)) but hopefully this shows the basic concept. And please forgive the goofy 'dog talk' and probably just get used to it. The more enthusiastic I sound the more enthusiastic she is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cats have 4 legs too

Obviously most of what I write is geared toward lessons from our K9 four legged friends. But felines have four legs too ya know. I have two, cats that is. . .well and legs too, thank goodness! But back to the cats. I have two, both rescue kitties and complete opposites.

We have Edie, the scaredy cat and Nellie, the meanest cat alive. Ironically Nellie came home with me at four weeks old to be my 'cuddly kitten.' That lasted about 3 days before her true personality came out. The first time she went to the vet for shots he came in and said, "have you ever had a tortoiseshell cat before?"

"No." I innocently and ignorantly responded.

"You might find she can be slightly moody." he replied, with I'm sure no malice intended. Can anyone say: understatement of the year? I can!

This 'cuddly kitten' quickly ceased to be called Nellie and is most often referred to simply as, "Mean" or if we feel charitable, "The Mean." It's not intended to be malicious we just tend to call things as they are around here.

So now to the point, for all her quirks she is quite simply the smartest cat I've ever known. Not that  I don't think cats are smart, sometimes I think their intelligence quota outranks some humans I've known. Really I think she spends so much time with the dogs that she thinks she is a dog, just a far superior one of course!

Why do I think that? Well, we have bells on the back door that the dogs ring when they need to go out. The dogs and 'The Mean' that is. I never knew cats could learn stuff like that. I'm not one of those cool people who has ever trained a cat before although I know a lot of cool people who clicker train cats I just never have. And I think I would be seriously taking my life in my hands if I tried to interact too much with her. We have developed a 'don't mess with me and I won't claw your eyes out while you sleep' pact. But evidently she doesn't need me to train her cause she's got that covered all on her own.

Thus the bell ringing trick, which admittedly I think is pretty cool even if she does still hate me.

And now: "The Mean"

"But mo-om I don't wanna go potty here!"

Since I have to take Maizey out on a leash right now anyways, I thought we would jump ahead a bit to the L3 handling. The levels explain:

Dog eliminates on cue. Tester should allow no more than two minutes for elimination to begin after the first cue is given. This is an optional behavior.

In the eyes of me this has never been an optional behavior.  If you have ever had to take a dog out on a leash at one o-clock in the morning in a blizzard you quickly come to appreciate a pup who will do her business in two minutes or less! Or how 'bout standing on the side of the road in . . .say. . .I don't know. . .the middle of Nevada? Yes, stand in the middle of anywhere w/ cars screaming past you and again two minutes or less? That is looking mighty fine!

So we have always trained our girls to go while on the leash and the two minutes part is not usually a problem. However I have always been lazy about training them to use a specific part of the yard, so L3 handling-perfect opportunity right?

Sure, except my idea of the perfect spot for them to use and Maizey's idea? Apparently not compatible. Every time we went out today she stood at the end of her leash and looked at me clearly thinking the whole time, "are you kidding me? I am not going here! I want to go over there, or over there, or how 'bout over there?" (Can you hear me sighing?)

 But persist we will and maybe by the time the new grass comes up they will know new grass is not for puppy business!

Who said Rottweilers weren't lap dogs? 
Not Meeka!

P.S.S. While we are on the subject of standing out in the yard at random times, am I the only one who thinks it odd that the neighbor who hardly ever says hello in normal daylight hours chooses one o-clock in the morning while I am standing outside in my p.j.'s and coat telling the dog, "go potty" to holler over the fence, "Have a good night!"?

Maybe it's just odd to me, but the four legged lesson?

Humans are so weird!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A bit of the hodgepodge we are working on

Looking back it seems I haven't covered much of the 'how to' of the behaviors we are currently working on. So here is a brief break down of a couple behaviors we hope to work on  in the next while.

The dog must play the Come Game between the handler and a friend or stranger standing 20’ apart. An actual cue to come is desirable but not necessary. 
Maizey has not been working on the Come Game due to her knee surgery.But we have done some very brief sessions before she got sick. At this level we will be working to strengthen both her informal recall cue's, we use "comecome" the most. Also I want to build reliability in her formal cue's, "here", "Maizey" and "Maizey here" I also need to start a hand cue for recall, but I'm not sure what or if it is appropriate at this level. This is slightly different than how L1 come game is played.

Dog enters crate with no more than two cues (vocal, body language, or hand signals), remains in crate while handler closes/opens door, no vocalizing or pawing.
Maizey loves her crate and often goes in to sleep voluntarily. She could test out of this level now, but we are going to follow the direction to work through each level. I am going to focus more on the continued education part by using her crate in the bedroom, also we will use a spare crate in the living area of the house. I'm going to focus a lot of attention on using her car seats in the house to build her comfort level of using them in the car.

A quick note on car seats, or restraints for smaller dogs: having a car seat is undoubtedly the safest way for them to travel, but w/ the neat seats they have now they can also serve as a crate, or safe place, to keep the pups confined when not in the car. Maizey's red car seat is also a backpack, has wheels and a handle and lays down to be a bed. It works well in the car and out of the car.

One thing not in the levels that we are working on is building toy drive. Now that Maizey is feeling better we are anxious to get back into training, but she is still on a bland diet of rice and chicken the consistency of baby food. A bit messy for treats! lol But not being able to use food for reinforcement did show me how important toy drive is. She is not toy motivated, mostly because I haven't taught her to be. So we are starting some toy games today. 

The first is from a Susan Garrett article from Say Yes Dog Training. It has a very fun game that is sure to make me laugh and anyone who sees me laugh at me-if not w/ me! The link is

The second game is a controlled tug game from Aiden Bindoff. It was printed on Karen Pryors Interestingly we played this w/ both girls last night. Maizey loved it, but Meeka was not so sure. Meeka tugs good already, but the structured way of playing was unfamiliar to her. The link for the game is:

These games should be fun for us all. Which is really all dog training is-a fun way of playing w/ your four legged friends!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

sick puppies don't work for treats

Sick puppies don't work for treats, and sick puppies don't have too much fun!

We have not done too much of anything the last three days, except run for the back door and outside every half hour that is. Maizey has a sick belly. A very sick belly. So it has been sleeping, in between the back door running, for her.

I had a poodle, Little Man, for 16 years. He got bit through his nose and top palette when he was a few weeks old consequently he snorted when he breathed. I listened to him snort and snore from the time he was three months old until he died last year. I listened to him breath for more than half my life. I would wake up and listen to him in the night and I would know he was okay from the rhythm of his breath. After he died I spent nights listening for his breath. I couldn't sleep w/ out his sounds.

Maizey is a silent sleeper, I still listen for her. She is a sound sleeper, I should know I have been holding her for two days while she sleeps. And she settles down good back into her silent sleeping after she wakes me up in the night to make the mad dash outside. I, however, don't settle right back down. I listen for her. The same way I hear Meeka get up after about an hour in her crate and come sleep next to my bed. The same way I hear her make the move to the living room chair (how such a big girl curls up so small I'll never know:)). I hear them because they are mine. I hear them and it doesn't seem like it bothers my sleep.

Is there a four legged lesson?

I guess its a heavy one, but I think its that you aren't bothered by what you love most. Because it's yours. . .
 . . .so you love them, even when they stick out their tongue at you and give you the evil eye.:))

Monday, March 8, 2010

Early Morning Walks

If there is one good thing about not sleeping its that being awake does give you more time w/ the four legged ones. Whether its the little one snoozing on my lap, or taking my big girl for an early morning walk to the park, you're never alone with a four legged friend around!

That being said here are a couple pics from the stroll to the park Meeka and I took this morning.

So many good sniffs!

And lots of space to run-
makes chasing me when we are practicing recalls the best!

 This series represents my favorite thing about rotti's in general and one of my many favorite things about my Meeka:
Its called the, "don't worry I'm on the 'wait and see' lookout."

A very balanced and healthy Rottweiler is one who will keep a watchful eye out, while always waiting to react until given direction.

sit-stays are so hard when mom keeps moving out of your field of vision and you believe a sit-stay means don't even turn your head. 
What a good girl I have!

And finally:
Rotti rears are so cute!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sometimes Real Life Gets In The Way

One thing I have noticed, but still need to learn, is that "real life" often gets in the way when it comes to dog training.

So a short rant:

Life is busy. That is not news to anyone alive. And so often in the times we live in life is busy with things we just don't want to be busy with. So was the case today.

But the 4 legged lesson?

Well on my list of training goals today we had:
L2 zen test
L1 come
Barking zen @ petco
L2 Watch
L2 Mat--check on adding cue
L2 Sit, Down-"YEP" (My work)
L2 Sit-stay, Down-stay--check on adding cue

What was accomplished was. . .well not any where near that much. Thus at the end of day I am left feeling like I didn't do anywhere near good enough today. My girlies? Oh they are great! Snoozing away contentedly in their crates with the doors open. And why not? Maizey passed her L2 zen test, and while I had a hard time at Petco, and probably stressed her out, for the most part it was okay. Meeka got to go for a ride in the truck, and has learned to swing the bucket, so of course she's really happy. So again the 4 legged lesson?

Humans (i.e. ME) often expect too much of themselves and others. Our brilliant 4 legged friends on the other hand know to be content w/ what is, and sleep the sleep of the happy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Full 4 Legged Day

Today was a full day of training fun stuff!

Maizey tested her L1 target and passed. When a dog tests a behavior it must be tested "cold". Meaning w/ no practice on that day. Some behaviors must be tested w/ no treats and clicker in the room. The L1 target test is as follows, "The dog must deliberately Touch the handler’s hand with her nose on only one voice cue. The hand in position is, naturally, a second, allowable cue." So Maizey's voice cue for a nose touch is simply "touch". Today she gets an A+ on her L1 touch! Tomorrow: L2 here we come.

Today was also bath day, which we usually combine w/ swimming. The tub isn't deep enough to actually doggy paddle(no pun intended;)). But she can wade around and it is the best exercise for her knees. Today we started working on helping her put her face in the water. Turns out cheerios are perfect for this, as they float and gradually sink. I throw a handful in the water and from there it's a simple matter of capturing when she dunks her face to go after the cheerio w/ a click/treat.

Along w/bath day we naturally worked on L2 handling since you should never bathe a dog w/ out brushing her out first. The handling test is, "Dog allows the handler to handle his ears, tail, and feet. This may be done on a table or on the floor. There must be minimal fussing." Maizey handles well, she should after 3 surgeries in a year! But this level builds a better association with being handled as a groomer, or vet would handle her. It also introduces grooming on a table, which we haven't done and is an interesting dynamic.

She also went for a ride w/ me so she worked on sitting nice in her seat, and being calm in the car otherwise known as "car zen." We also did our first barking/hush session at the dog park. But more to come on both "car zen" and "tell me/hush" later. 

Car zen:
"This "car seat zen" is no sweat!"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A tired puppy is a happy puppy!

Today I was reminded, again:), just how much happier the dogs are when we work for just a few minutes a day.

We always hear the vital importance of physical exercise for our 4 legged friends, but often neglected is the vital importance of mental exercise, or stimulation. Of course regular physical exercise can't be underestimated, but the truth is I see them just as tired from a few sessions of positive reenforcement training as from a good walk. Combine the two and they'll sack out for hours!LOL

That certainly showed tonight. Today we were in and out much of the day and the girlies entertained themselves (aka snoozed;)). They are fine to be left, never destructive or noisy. But when we got home in the afternoon they were full of energy. Normally this would be a great time for a walk, but that wasn't possible today. So with their dinner I did 3 ten minute sessions w/ Maizey, and basically a longer "play" session w/ Meeka.

Maizey did one session of L2 'down-stay'. She did excellent! Then a while later, as in after I put the dishes away, we worked one session of L2 'go to mat'. It was her first session working that and she really had to think, even though it is something she is familiar with. Then a few minutes later we did one session to practice for her L2 'zen' test. She has this down pat so its more like a fun game, less thinking.

It really just took about 30 minutes total, we both had fun and after that this is what we got:
Translation: A tired puppy is happy puppy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I thought it would be good to do a brief intro to the Training Levels program we are using for training. All detailed information can always be linked to at the Sue Ailsby's Training Levels link in the "Links Of Interest" sidebar.  There will be an index of terms that may be new or unfamiliar in the "Labels" sidebar under "Training Terms"

This is completely positive reenforcement training. I decided when we got Maizey to cross over from traditional training and am sold on this method. There are so many benefits, but one of the greatest to me is that this is FUN! And not just for me, but for the dogs too. Shaping, capturing, and luring with clicker training teach a dog to think. And it teaches the handler to think too. Trust me I have spent many hours scratching my head trying to figure it out!LOL

Another benefit of using positive reenforcement and the  Levels is how adaptable the skills are to each dog. Meeka, being the eminently teachable girl she is, certainly doesn't need to work the same skills, or the same order, as Maizey. But once you and the dogs have a good handle on the basic concepts you can customize the training to be exactly what each one needs.

Maizey is our main student, but Meeka's work is ongoing and will be peppered in here and there as I learn areas she needs work in. Maizey has tested and passed three of the five level 1 behaviors: sit, down, and zen. So she is working on level 2 behaviors except for target and come.

More later on what these behaviors are and what they involve for her, and for me!

Monday, March 1, 2010

maizey does punk rock

Today was toenail day for Maizey, so I thought we would work in some L2 Handling.

To pass the L2 Handling test the levels explain: "Dog allows the handler to handle his ears, tail, and feet. This may be done on a table or on the floor. There must be minimal fussing."
She really has no problem with having her toenails done. Generally I'm the one who is flinching and wimpy about it;)LOL But I usually trim her never ending feet hair, and her toenails wherever I am sitting down. Usually on the couch etc. So it was new to put her on the table. She did very well, although it is always interesting how adding one new element, such as the table, really changes the dynamic. 

One great thing about the  Training Levels is they expose holes in your training by adding in the details I would never think of. It is great (and greatly humbling) to see spots we need to work on in areas I thought we were pretty solid. There is always so much to learn.

Enter Maizey the punk rocker:

When Maizey was younger I used to despair that her ears would ever grow out and become real "Cavalier ears." Now that they have grown I find them continually in our way. So for toenail clipping we give her the 'punk rock' look. She doesn't mind too much since I always make sure its loose enough for her to shake out if she needs to. I certainly did get the evil eye today but it was more of the "Why are you STILL taking my picture?" variety.:)
Don't worry after a good role on the carpet the princess was back!

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!