Friday, May 18, 2012

Dog Training!

Finally!  I feel like I haven't done any training outside of club practice or agility lessons for months!  I haven't tracked since work started getting busy for our inspection.  But that will be over next week so hopefully I can start that back up.

I just joined a Facebook Group abut cross training dogs.  Mostly dedicated to dogs who do bitesports and other sports, but any cross training talk is allowed.  I was having trouble with Dottie not understanding the utility articles, and I thought perhaps the tracking articles confused her.  This is what I wrote:

Here is a cross-over problem I'd love help with. Scent articles in utility vs tracking articles. Dottie goes to the article pile in utility and lays down either at the first article she sees, or amongst them, and indicates a random article. We indicate the articles in tracking, so that is where the laying down is from. I don't mind that she isn't retrieving it, if it was the correct one, I'd just tell her "yes, bring." I think the problem is my scent is all over the ground since I stood there putting the articles out. So even though the article she is indicating isn't scented, the ground under it is. However, she does not give false indications on items found while on a track, including trash that has blown into a footstep after I laid the track, or a piece of hose stepped on while laying the track, so she understand (in tracking) the difference between a scented article and an unscented one found on the track. So perhaps the problem isn't that the ground under the article pile is scented. In teaching the utility articles I've tried the retrieve method which did not work (it worked amazing with my Tibetan Terrier, but not with my other Malinois) and also the method of putting food in Altoids type containers. With more than one container out, she picks one at random and indicates it. Help!

End post.

After posting that, I decided to get it on video so other people can see the problems, and maybe offer help.  Since I've already worked food in just one container, I started off with three.  Much to my surprise, she did much better!  I eventually progressed to 5 containers, then sending to the pile, then even once or twice with no food, and just my scent.  She messed up a few times, but that is fine, she seems to be "getting" it much better.  She seems a little stressed, which isn't good.  Not only do I want her to be having fun, but also a stressed dog is more likely to make mistakes.  Hopefully as she understands better, her confidence will build and the stress will diminish.

One reason she could have been doing better is previously I only tried it inside.  Perhaps my scent is too strong inside and it was washing over everything, including the food smell.  Also, this time I used really stinky treats.  Usually I don't have such smelly treats, but by good luck I did.

Here is the video.

PS- It is never fun to hear how annoying you sound while training dogs.  I bet the dogs find it annoying also.

I'm happy with where we are!  I think we will continue to progress.  Now I must work on signals.  So far not so good.  But as I tell my student every time we practice signals with her dog, it takes a lot of time and training.  Unless you are Fancy, then it happens magically.

Drill tomorrow, for the second time this month.  But then we don't drill in June, so I can show every weekend!  And I might do that, since I showed so little in May, and IPO has been taking up other weekends and I just haven't been doing as much agility as I'd like.  Dottie needs more than just ONE lonely MX leg.


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