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Thread: Some Dog training questions

  1. #1

    Default Some Dog training questions

    Hi, first post here, so I'm hoping I'm doing everything right.

    I've got myself a very friendly, snuggly and extremely active Johnson Bulldog X Staffy. He's turning into a fantastic dog and I've had no issues other than him contracting Parvo a few weeks back (after being vaccinated). But he's perfectly healthy now, and probably even fitter than before.

    He (Boris) is a smart dog, smart enough to make training a little difficult at times. He's definitely strong willed! But, in the confines of the backyard, we've got him sitting and dropping instantly (He practically dives down into the drop position) and can stay, when he's not too distracted, for about 30 seconds, or until I go out of eyesight (I can't quite do a circle around him yet) but we're improving daily. His recall still needs some work. Especially when we're out in the bush by the river and he's got a shoe or a sock in his mouth. Then it's time for a game of tag. We're beginning to play some nose games (hiding treats, picking the hand with a treat, etc) and I plan on starting to teach him location based commands over the holidays.

    Now, he's got more stamina than I could ever dream of having, and an hour long walk seems to barely get him warmed up, so I'm slowly starting to teach him to pull me on a skateboard, and the commands that follow. He's still a bit young, so he doesn't get to pull me along yet, but he's running on a lose leash reasonably well after only a few sessions. I've taught him to slow down, and to not turn down a path from our daily walks, but I'm at a complete loss as to how to teach him left and right, any ideas on how to accomplish this?

    He really loves to work hard, and seems to really want to please me, so I was thinking, along with the skateboarding, that I should involve him in another doggy sport. There's some dry land sled dog(well, they use scooters) events a few hours drive away, which I'll look into doing when he's fully trained up and fully grown, but I think we need another discipline. What are your thoughts on training a dog to do Schutzhund, as an amateur dog trainer? It seems like a very good goal to work towards, albeit a very difficult one. I've got plans to build some agility equipment, but I don't think that's something I'd be interested in for us to compete at. The only issue I have with Schutzhund is the protection work section, it seems like you'd have to be very sure of your training abilities, and your dogs temperament, before starting down that path.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this all. Doubly thanks for any potential help anyone can offer.

  2. #2
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    I think you'd wear him out more if you taught him to ride the skateboard instead.

    The more you exercise a dog - the fitter it gets - you've already worked that out, but if you spent 15 minutes of each exercise session - just trick training - new tricks (one a week is good) - you'd wear his brain out too. And then he'd sleep.

    picking the hand with a treat
    this one isn't much of a challenge. My dog can pick who is carrying treats along the beach at distances of over 100m and then behave like a bushranger - your treats - all of them or your ear drums - your choice...

    "it's yer choice" is probably a better game and requires a lot more work than find the food game...

    ie you have food in your hand - can you hold your hand open and your dog not try to steal the treats - eg impulse control - makes dog brain work really hard.

    Similar to stays with distractions eg can your puppy hold a stay while you run past... and instant drop is great, but can you get your dog to drop and hold that while you keep running... (mine can't). We also practice recall and then a drop on the way back - and she doesn't get any treat if she does a 3-step drop ie I call her, she's coming, I tell her to drop and she takes another three steps before she does even when she's not going flat out.

    Missing out really works her brain too. What do I have to do to get that treat - so exciting...

    google "it's yer choice", "collar grab" (very handy game that one - helps stop the victory laps with the sock if the dog will put their neck into your hand when you reach out. and google "shaping tricks".

    You don't need a clicker unless you're trying to get something very precise like a head tilt or ear flick and then you need really really good timing... just use the word "yes" or "beer".

  3. #3

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    Yeah, we do a fair bit of training. I've mostly been working on refining what he already knows, but I'm going to branch out into some cool tricks for him. He spins around with a fairly solid hand signal, and he'll place his pay into my hand if I hold it out for him. He already stands on the skateboard. I'll teach him how to ride it after we've got the skatejoring stuff down first. I don't want it to become a toy for him until he's very sure on what I want him to do.

    I can't hold my hand out, with a treat in it, without him madly diving for it. I'm working on a 'gentle' command, and we're getting much better. I still end up with very slobery hands after a few minutes tho. I'll google up some more nose games. He seems to really enjoy them. Right from his first walk down the river, he was very keen to sniff things out. Usually he'll find something too, much to my disappointment - it's almost always something gross.

    Boris can stay still if I run backwards, but it's a bit much for him if I've turned my back and start running off. I try and do training sessions with my nephew playing in the backyard, that seems to be working well. He's getting much better at listening to me when distracted.

    I'll be working on things like the recall to drop. That one will be difficult. i've been attempting to do commands from a distance, but he'll just run up to me before sitting. Which would probably be easier than going to a drop from a run.

    I've been using a clicker. I thought it was a bit of new-age hogwash when I first heard about it, but chatting with someone changed my mind. It seems to be working out well for us. He reacts a lot quicker now, and his movements into position are very fast now, too. I'll definitely have a look at the collar grab and its yer choice. Anything to stop the pesky running about with my shoes.

    Shaping is just breaking down a trick into small pieces so they dog can readily understand them, right? There's a trick I saw a dog do on TV that I'm desperately wanting to teach Boris. Now might be a perfect time. It's a play dead on steroids. You make a shooting noise at the dog, and it limps about for a moment, then lies down and whimpers, before rolling on his back. I don't think it'd be hard to break it down into its components and then put it together.

    Or I might do something a little more practical. Teaching the dog to shake out water when I want him too. Nearly every time he does it i'm sitting down trying to roll a smoke. Really not funny.

    Thanks for the help.

  4. #4
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    Teaching the dog to shake out water when I want him too.
    There's two kinds of shaping but you can overlap them a bit...

    one is you "capture" something the dog does of it's own accord and put that on cue - like barking and shaking hands (pawing you).

    the second sort is by controlling the environment - ie setting everything up so the dog does what you want and you can mark and reward that.

    I think I've just about got shake shake (the water off) on cue... I know when she's about to do it, so I say "shake shake" and I move like I'm doing the twist (dance)... and she shakes... so I have been able to get her to "shake" - early ie not all over me.

    But it's funny cos she will shake when she's still chest deep in water (uncued). And I just laugh at her - that's not going to work.

    I think "luring" where you use a treat or dog's fave toy/reward to get the dog to move in the way you want for a trick. This can teach a dog fast what you want but sometimes it's blindly following the treat - the brain never engages and no learning is done.

    For getting certain tricks - targeting is very useful - you train the dog to aim for a spot and sit on it, or follow your hand or a stick with a small ball (with peanut paste on it aka target stick) - then you can get the dog to do all sorts of "dance moves".

    You're right about the bang bang you're dead. It's a bit like the dog "skidboot" who will approach a toy, then back up off it, then approach again until he finally gets permission to geddit. The owner uses the words "geddit" quite a lot so the actual cue is very subtle - like I can't tell how the dog knows when he can finally get the toy.

    Limping is tricky... but I've seen it done from perch work and very controlled environment ie teaching the dog to put his paws on things or keep one paw up on something then just up... all different paws.

    I got as far as my dog will put all her feet in a stand on my bathroom scales... which is helpful.

    I started with her putting all her feet on a mat, then on a phone book wrapped in a bath towel ("perch").

    You have to be careful about where the treats are and getting the dog to work when it doesn't know where the treats are... or in front of the treats but without trying to steal them...

    So I was trying to teach fetch - not real reliable without treats. So I got one of her fave treats (and mine) - vegemite on toast in little thumb sized pieces.. and put that on a plate on a milk crate by way of a table. There was another milk crate - so the first trick she "offers up" for a treat - was to climb on top of the second milk crate - wasn't easy or comfy and I had to pay that - it was too cute not to.

    And then I got her working on the fetch. And I have to pay attention to rewarding "average or better" performance and not below standard performance. When it's a brand new trick - you reward lots and often almost everything, but when the dog has successfully performed the trick most of the time (4 times out of 5 attempts at least) - don't be rewarding victory laps as part of the "fetch".

    And things your dog likes to nick off with - like shoes and sox - play the fetch game with those. Ie have something better than a shoe to reward with - like some vegemite on toast (or whatever your dog loves)...

    Now when my dog wants a walk - she fetches my shoes... if I don't take her for a walk (or fail to pay attention) - she eats the shoes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick1990 View Post
    Hi, first post here, so I'm hoping I'm doing everything right.

    I've taught him to slow down, and to not turn down a path from our daily walks, but I'm at a complete loss as to how to teach him left and right, any ideas on how to accomplish this?

    .
    You could get those witches hats or a pole you can stick in the ground and teach him to go left or right around them, that is how I get directionals for agility. Then you could start putting it in the context of pulling you on the skateboard. Perhaps throw a reward out in front to shape his path once he turns the correct way. He sounds pretty keen to work so he should pick it up.

    It didnt take me long to put directional commands on my sheep dogs either. They will change direction immediately I give the word for left or right. They never get the direction wrong unlike me LOL
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 12-22-2014 at 11:46 PM.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalacreek View Post
    You could get those witches hats or a pole you can stick in the ground and teach him to go left or right around them, that is how I get directionals for agility. Then you could start putting it in the context of pulling you on the skateboard. Perhaps throw a reward out in front to shape his path once he turns the correct way. He sounds pretty keen to work so he should pick it up.

    It didnt take me long to put directional commands on my sheep dogs either. They will change direction immediately I give the word for left or right. They never get the direction wrong unlike me LOL
    Ah, yeah. He's very keen to work. It's funny, I was out with a friend last night at the river and he commented that he keeps forgetting Boris is a puppy still. You give him a job and he's completely focused on it. Soon as you're just sitting around, he goes back to being an evil puppy intent on stealing something or spilling your beer!

    I'll give the witches hat a go. I was planning on making a little focus stick today. They seem like a handy training tool, so I'll try that out with some directional commands. He's such a spoiled dog, he's got a Kong and some grooming gear coming for him, i'm building a little a-frame for him to jump over (Still won't jump into the boot of the wagon), some sticks to build a slalom course and a proper pulling harness, and a spring pole and flirt pole as well. For a dog that was free, it sure is easy to spend well over $1400 in a just few months.

    Hyacinth, thanks for a lot more useful info! I'll definitely be working on his release from fetching things a lot more in the future. He's getting better, but it's still a bit annoying when he doesn't want to give it back.

    As far as capturing and shaping goes, I roughly understand it. I managed to capture him digging in the sand by the river, and when he was doing it, I'd dig with my foot. Now, whenever I dig with my foot he goes and digs on that exact spot. Which is fantastic, there haven't been any more holes magically showing up in the backyard.

    Boris seems to be a quick study. We were swimming in the river a few days ago, and I was splashing him (Trying to get him completely comfortable in the water, we also were playing toss the doggy - Boris loves that!). After a few minutes, he started lifting his paws out of the water and splashing too. It was just coincidence, but the laughter and praise from my friend (I'd got the brunt of the splashing) seemed to have been enough, Boris now does it whenever we're close in the water. Maybe he's just trying to stand on the water, or maybe he really is the devil's dog and has worked out how to splash back.

  7. #7
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    splashing in the water, hmm...

    Fortunately my dog hasn't really learned about that. She does move through the water like Pepe le Piyew (bugs bunny)... likes to be able to touch the bottom. But will swim.

    But the horse I used to own... if he got into a decent sized puddle (dam) and started making splash - the next thing he was going to do - was roll over - so if you were crossing a creek and he started splashing - better get him moving so you can save the saddle...

    But other times - we'd go in bare back and you'd just step off then on as he rolled and got back up... smell of wet horse.

    Most staffies I've known have been very slow learners (or extremely good at training their humans). But will work for laughs and praise and pats - that makes an easy dog to train. And you always have the roast chicken treats as back up for new tricks or if he's being a bit "slow".

  8. #8

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    Well, I've been doing the 'it's yer choice' game and it's really disgusting! Haha. But it seems to be working well. Took him about a minute to start ignoring the hand the first time, and less each subsequent time. I saw a youtube video that built upon the hand holding one, so i'll give them a crack in a few days time.

    I also built him a flirt pole today. I've had a few very short sessions with him and he loves it. Best game ever, according to him! Been keeping it pretty slow, and have been trying to avoid as many twists, turns and jumps as possible. He's still not fully grown, and I'd hate to injure him - but I think this will be a good game for when long walks aren't possible.

    We haven't done any work on tricks or new commands the last few days. Just working on stay mostly, and give it. He's staying still with the flirtpole dancing about him, for a little while at least, but I think that's just because he's more focused on the hot dog chunks in my hand. But I figured it's probably a good time to begin working on him listening to commands whilst he's hyped up.

  9. #9
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    It's yer choice - upping the game...

    So the main deal is to reward using the opposite hand to the one holding the treats - either from those treats or from somewhere else...

    Open hand is the first reward, getting a treat for not stealing is the second, and you can gradually build duration.

    and then up the game...

    all training can be about offering your dog (limited) choices and rewarding the right one.

    so variations on...
    treats on the ground - cover with your hand if dog tries to steal
    treats on the coffee table - same.
    one treat on dog paw...
    treat all round dog, and on dog's head (tho my dog knows she can shake the treat off and that finishes the game - she gets a treat)...

    Flirt pole or fetch "its yer choice"
    dog has to sit before you throw the ball, and wait before you say "go fetch" and then dog can go. Eg you have a wait cue or the sit/drop/stand is a control position and dog must hold it until you give the release cue...

    It's yer choice for dinner... dog has to wait on mat without stealing dinner until given permission to eat...
    dog must recall past dinner without trying to steal it. successful recall - gets permission to eat...

    I taught most of the more difficult things for my dog like stays and recalls and now fetches - in front of her dinner.
    It's called "premack principle" - first you do something for me, then you get to do something you want.

    More IYC in more places eg roast chicken on the ground at the park.
    And the give-geddit-give- geddit - with something high value like a chewy treat.

    I can get her to give and get and give the rawhide treat.
    not sure I can get her to do it with a bit of roo jerky but I reckon if I can get that in a controlled environment eg home - then I will get her to give up the takeway trash at the park and the beach.

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