Crate Games are a very effective way to (re)introduce a dog to its crate (after we have stayed at home for months in a pandemic, for example). Crate Game are also an excellent means to finesse obedience skills, practice impulse and boundary control, and sending dogs to a "Place".
Hexe's first training session at 11 weeks old. She learns to follow food, stays attentive to me, discovers how her body can move, works on lateral movements, experiences continuous engagement and basic skills in a playful fashion. I encourage all owners with young puppies to do a similar immersion to obedience training.
Obedience with Rufus the Westy
Rufus in action about 5 days after arrival in my in kennel training program. He came to me on Prozac, biting at free will when his mood struck him so. At first, he refused all interactions with me including the taking of food from my hand for about 4-5 days until we made some break through progress. In this session, Rufus is blossoming and getting very excited with the skills I am asking him to do for me. He was fully weaned of Prozac in this video.
Rufus Obedience continued
Sir "Carrot Tail" Rufus reloaded! This video marks 24 days post arrival. 20 of these days Prozac free. The transformation is A-MAZING!!! Showing off his off leash confidence (which was a big hurdle), some novelty bravery and some magic 3s, as I call them...3 repetitions before you get paid. If you fail mid-chain, we start from rep1. I insist on fast sits and downs. I want effort and commitment. He's GOT it. Enjoy!
Speed Through Tricks
Dogs love tricks. We can leverage the dog's desire to do tricks in obedience training as a motivator to do behaviors quickly and correctly, which then can lead to doing a trick as a reward. Tricks may have to be taught first before they can be incorporated into obedience training. Hexe shows the tricks she knows.
Thick dowel hold with my GSD Hexe, 17 mts old. The “hold” is an important piece to any retrieve. Once the “hold” is great and proofed, you can continue to back chain the rest of the retrieve, ie pickup, running out, coming back fast etc. The taking and dropping of the dowel on command is very important. So is the calm grip without chewing while holding the object. Object Retrieval is a beast of a behavior chain to teach. There are many small pieces to it and some of it is easy to miss.
Puppy Track Crew 4 months old
Tracking is a rewarding exercise which may be a great alternative or addition to any pet's training. Tracking is very hard physical work for a dog. Crew shows a beginner puppy track. It is a 2 meter diameter circle, wherein I layed a single file track (heel to toe) with my footprints. There is a piece of kibble in every footprint. Assuming my boot length is about 7", this means there is a piece of kibble every 7" along this track. Crew finds every piece of food and thus learns to discriminate and become rewarded for the scent of disturbed grass (which I stepped on), and undisturbed grass (which should remain uninteresting to the dog). Every piece of food needs to get found to teach the dog early that missing (the next) important scent cue could lead you on the wrong path. You notice Crew wanting to pull ahead at times to get the food ahead of him when he hasn't found the one right under him yet. I block him via leash to promote the correct response of taking EVERY piece of food. Dogs who are not as carefully detecting every footprint will later miss path changes (turns) and important cues along the way (articles). Hence, the urgency to take every piece of food is taught early.
Foundation with Husky
Adak is a 6 months old Husky who was with me for basic training and especially manners. Adak showed a spectacular amount of dominance when he first came and tried to be in charge about everything. It is amazing how quickly dogs learn to be top notch manipulators to stay in control. The really clever ones make it look like it’s cute or something WE wanted anyway. He would sit in front of me, but with his butt to me, on my feet. He’d lean into me so forcefully, I had to watch my footing. He obviously jumped on me and pawed me to get his way especially when the leash first came on. If he was not pulling on leash, he just laid down- mid walk. He, the extremely food oriented dog that he is, also turned his head away from the reward treats I tried to give him. “If I don’t take this food, this person will quit working with me and leave me alone”. He, ultimately, tried to pee on me outside. He determined through various tricks when to stop working and how to stay in control of me or the interaction. I had 11 days to turn this around. The clip here is lose leash walking, Sit, down, stay. He is on a flat collar, working for his dinner kibble.
Finding Heel Position
"Heel" is often thought of as the motion of walking mannerly next to us, but in reality, it is a position and gets taught as such. The dog's chest should be aligned with the left (or right) knee. If taught as a position in a stationary fashion first, the dog should find the correct position regardless where you are as the handler. Young Hexe practices finding Heel position from different angles. She performs a trick after she correctly finds heel.
Instant Position Changes
Instant response to position changes. Grand prize (ball) is in front of the dog and serves as a boundary. In order to practice no forward creeping in positions (point deduction in sports), the dog is not allowed to get beyond the ball until released to it. Of course, I’m also practicing speaking the command softly and not offering any body cues to test the dog’s listening skills.
Toy Trading Game
You must share with your younger sister, we say...Dogs can learn early to share so possession and guarding does not become a problem later. Hexe (5 months) learning to share with a very simple trading game. Note that I move very little and let her do all the work. I pair the letting go of one ball with my Out command before she gets the other ball. It's a simple way to work on sharing. No conflict, no chase, no yelling, no bribery. Just back and forth. Dogs need a few sessions for this but they will learn conflict-free.
Barking Endurance - who knew we WANT our dogs to bark at times. Teaching your dog to bark on command can be benefitial, for many reasons. There are 3 qualities to barking which define the mindset of the dog: Pitch, Cadence, Rhythm. In IPO, dogs are expected to guard the decoy by barking. We expect medium pitch, steady cadence, and rhythm (no stuttering). We can teach this away from the helper/decoy by working on barking on command for a toy and building the much needed endurance for the guard phase (dogs have to bark at the helper for a long time and need the conditioning for it). The box defines the boundary beyond which the dog mustn't step. We also want the dog to bark at us instead of the toy. Hexe barks 100 times on one command in this video. The goal is to get to 200 perfect barks with only one command. If she stutters, or her pitch changes, I have to start over. Although I pay Hexe with the ball afterwards, barking is in itself self-rewarding.